The Story of my Sister Helen:
My name is Helen. I was born in 1985, as the 6th child in a polygamous family which counted my father and his 6 wifes.
My village where I grew up is called Osupuko. It is located near Kilgoris in the Transmara West District.
I completed primary school 8 years in Osupuko.
My education ended at the age of 14 when my parents decided that it was time for me to get married. According to the Maasai tradition, a girl can only be seen as a woman once she has undergone the traditional passage to adulthood during a celebration whereby each girl undergoes female genital mutilation (FGM).
Shortly after, I was married to a young man whose parents became increasingly negative about our union for the fact that we were both very young. At one point, he was sent back to school and I was left alone at home with 3 small children, all girls. First I thought I could manage but the job was too hard on me so after a while I decided to go back to my parents even though I knew there would be little support from their side. At least, I had more peace of mind.
FGM has been a traumatic experience which impacted on me and my children. I often felt rejected, stigmatized and isolated by others of my age or my former schoolmates. We didn´t have always food, we couldn´t afford clothes and during the most critical times we had no place to stay.
My sister Gladys called me when she started Tareto Maa, to assist her with her new project. I liked the idea to be working to help other children escape the devastating consequences caused by FGM and forced marriage. Today, I am very happy to be working for Tareto Maa and to see that my children have enough food, a home, clothes and most important for us Maasai that they are going to school.
Tareto Maa is a blessing for our community. More than ever, I want to continue protecting the new generation of young girls from FGM and see that what was done to me will finally cease. It is through education that we can bring FGM to an end. For this, I dedicate all my time and energy.
I take this opportunity to thank Gladys enormously for giving me the chance to
work for Tareto Maa and also all the sponsors from all over the world who are
supporting this wonderful project.
In our previous report we mentioned that Tareto Maa was having so many visitors as never before, and we promised to publish photos and testimonials of the visits. Here we go. :-)
Tareto Maa is very grateful to have received health services and education from the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) students who visited Tareto Maa.
These are the testimonials from the UNR students sharing thoughts on their visit to Tareto Maa.
We would like to thank
- Professor Gerold Dermid Gray and to the entire crew of UNR for visiting and supporting Tareto Maa!
- Think Kindness for their generous donation of 200 shoes for the girls at Tareto Maa!
- Happy Feet in Tampa Bay for over 50 soccer balls!
Never before Tareto Maa had so many visitors as in the previous days! The University of Nevada in Reno (UNR) is supporting us, and a Professor of UNR’s Public Health Course and 12 of his students visited Tareto Maa after Christmas. They brought presents for the children (first and foremost: shoes for school), celebrated New Year’s Eve together with the girls, and provided health services and education to Tareto Maa. The president of Tareto Maa USA, Jackie Adams, was granted a fellowship by UNR to help lead the students on this course to Kenya. Tareto Maa is very grateful for this cooperation with the UNR and looks forward to working together for the well-being of the girls in the Tareto Maa Refuge. (We will publish photos and testimonials of the visitors as soon as we received them.)
In the last three months there were some more good news to be celebrated.
Dining Hall completed – Tareto Maa’s first motorized member – A launch party in Cleveland
The Dining Hall stands complete now. Despite delays due to heavy rainfall from September to November, the floors of the dining hall are now finished. The dining hall is a great improvement for the refuge’s infrastructure. Many thanks to the Kenyan team for overseeing this construction!
Furthermore we welcomed the first motorized member of the Tareto Maa community: a motorcycle. A supporter from Germany (who also provided us with bicycles last year) fundraised for this together with family and friends in Berlin. The new motorcycle allows us to transport supplies and, when needed, make sure our girls have quick access to healthcare facilities.
Last not least, Tareto Maa USA celebrated its tax exemption status by throwing a Launch Party at Dante’s Next Door in Cleveland, Ohio. The party included a fundraiser to support the children of Tareto Maa.
A successful Christmas campaign to support the newest members of the Tareto Maa Center
In the course of 2014, an additional 22 girls took refuge at Tareto Maa. Most of the newest members of our community are orphans who were severely malnourished and had dropped out of school. To meet the challenge of financing the education of our newest members, we asked our supporters for help. In our December campaign, we raised 6,000 Euro / $7,500 to fund the education of our girls. Once again, the Tareto Maa community has risen to meet the challenges of running a refuge!
A nice view – Welcome to the neighborhood of Tareto Maa
Very often people assume that nearly all land in East Africa is aridly and dry. But the area in which Tareto Maa is located is very green! To show how Tareto Maa’s environment looks like we published a video which was taken after a walk with the girls to the top of nearby Mount Pirrar: www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1sSUzNsa5M&feature=youtu.be
Isn’t it a beautiful rural countryside? :-)
We wish a happy New Year to everyone!
Thank you for your support in 2014.
We would be very happy if you accompany us also on our path in 2015.
Last August, all supporting teams’ leaders from the USA, Germany and Austria met together with the Kenyan team at Tareto Maa. This was the moment to get to know each other better and to make great progress so we all leapt at this rare opportunity.
Highlights of the time we spent with the children
We were incredibly happy to meet with the children who seem to be doing really well. We were hoping to take them on a safari but the weather conditions did not allow it. Instead we went hiking on the nearest mountain called Pirrar. It took us two hours to reach the top before we could enjoy the amazing panoramic view.
Sigfrid, the treasurer of the German team organised an athletic event including running, jumping and throwing. It was great fun!
We brought lots of new games and some music instruments for the children.
We also managed to repair the seesaw on the playground.
In exchange for dancing the Macarena with the children (see the video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1Kyz86HPmc), we had raised money which we spent buying fruit baskets for the children. We also cooked Mexican food for everyone and provided fresh popcorn one evening with a movie in the new dining hall.
Many of the older children jumped in to assist the younger ones with the letters they were writing to their respective sponsors.
New road map with a stepwise approach
There were many points on our agenda so we shared the work whenever we could. For instance, 10 children were sent to the city of Kisii for medical check-up.
We also met with another NGO representative and agreed to stay in contact as we are both serving the same cause of eradicating FGM.
We had reserved the last days of our visit to discuss about the current projects and tasks and to agree on what the priorities are for the future.
One of the greatest challenges is the rapid growth of Tareto Maa since the project started five years ago. Given the circumstances, we have managed extraordinary well until now. Fighting FGM and forced marriages remains our priority. There are also young orphans who have found a new home at Tareto Maa.
We are confident that many people are willing to support Tareto Maa, once they know about it. It is essential to continue promoting the project to recruit more sponsors.
Also, it is clear that the team in Kenya is doing a wonderful job. Just think about Helen, Sarah and Lilian who cook every day breakfast, lunch and dinner for so many children! Pastor Daniel, Joel, Tonje, David and many others are all contributing to the well-being of the children and the success of Tareto Maa.
We gained a much better understanding for the many challenges they face on a daily basis. We look forward to find adequate solutions to strengthen their situation.
The neighbouring community is still very enthusiastic about Tareto Maa and people have reaffirmed their support to the project. The idea that Tareto Maa can generate one day its own resources and gradually gain more independence from the help from abroad is not too far-fetched. The training centre which we spoke about in our previous report will start very soon with the sewing school. We also plan a vegetable garden and an orchard soon after.
Thank you for helping us promoting Tareto Maa and for your generous support!
Celebrations – Our first volunteer – Construction of the dining hall
Tareto Maa welcomed its first external volunteer: Nate Demers from Michigan. He arrived at Tareto Maa early in April, and the first thing he had to do was: to celebrate! On April 9, 2014, we celebrated Tareto Maa’s 5 Year Anniversary. Five years ago Gladys Kiranto started to shelter orphans from the local community and girls escaping FGM. In the beginning, 7 children were sheltered in the houses of Gladys and her family and friends. Five years later, the Tareto Maa Girls’ Refuge provides for the needs and the well-being of 106 children who have sought out our assistance.
To celebrate this anniversary, the Tareto Maa teams in the USA, Germany and Austria sent a thank-you letter and small personal presents for each team member in Kenya. The presents were manually recharging “dynamo flashlights” (a hot commodity in a village without power).
On the occasion of the anniversary, Philippe and Fynn from Austria started a charity run at the Vienna City Marathon. Thanks to many supporters’ contributions they raised around $2,500 which will be used to pay for the school fees of six girls.
After the anniversary celebrations, it was time for our first volunteer, Nate, to share his practical skills and to join some hard works. The construction of the dining hall started! This building is one of the major projects at Tareto Maa this year. We are happy and proud that this project successfully started, and after 3 months it is nearly completed now. At the moment, we are building the roof.
A current food crisis
While we mastered one challenge with building the dining hall, unfortunately another huge challenge emerged. It saddens us to report that the corn crops in the community of Kilgoris, Kenya were once again destroyed this season by a plant disease (a viral infection named “Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease”). After last year’s destruction, we thought we had the problem resolved via a harvest of a new breed of corn. Now, we see this was not a final solution. Tareto Maa leaders are reaching out to agricultural experts to gain insight on possible causes of this issue. Subsidiary farming is how we help mediate our expenses and losing our entire crop is a great loss. Due to the support of many people worldwide we were able to buy food for the children now to provide sufficient meals in the months to come. However, this food crisis is a severe setback for Tareto Maa, and any support to buy further food would be greatly appreciated.
Send us your pics – A Photobook of the Tareto Maa Community
We are creating a photobook to “introduce” the members of the Tareto Maa community to the girls of the Rescue Center. When the presidents of the Tareto Maa groups from the USA, Germany and Austria will meet in Kenya this August, they want to hand over the booklet to the children.
Please send pictures of yourself (at work, with your family, with your favorite pet, lounging at home or partaking in your favorite hobby) along with a brief description to email@example.com by Friday, July 22.
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