USA 501-3C- IRS tax-deductible foundation:# 81-2456558
Kelembu Angiri Lamirro, known as Benson, is the Chief of Engong'Narok. He's a native Maa speaker with limited English, so we edited his statement (written in 2015) slightly for clarity. Without his full support, our work would not be possible, as local chiefs are very powerful in their communities. When he first agreed to eliminate FGM in the village he wrote:
"My name is Benson Kelembu. I am chief of one of the Amboseli national park Maasai villages. I am married and have 7 children.
I love my young girls, and I decided to find a way of making their life bright in the future, like I am wishing for my sons. I am on the race of stopping girls' genital mutilation and early marriage.
I want our girls to go to school and get knowledge like other children. We have wasted many great ladies as a culture and society. I will not rest until all is done or stopped against them.
MOSES SARUNI, our Kenya Project Director and resident of Engong'Narok - written in 2015:
I am a Kenyan resident, a Maasai by tribe, living in Amboseli national park, the first born of 5 children. I have two sisters whom I have always loved.
We are sure that educating our girls will help end poverty, and bring happiness to our mothers and new knowledge to our daddies. Maasai women are very intelligent, hardworking and human. The few who are already in school, you can easily tell they are the best people you would ever like to meet or have in your life.
Until girls are educated, women have no say; they cannot make any decisions. Many families strive to send boy children to school by forcing the girl children for circumcision and early forced marriage. This must change.
Many are beaten and mistreated by their husbands, developing health problems at a young age. They give birth to too many children, and suffer from poor diet and stress.
One's own safety is every human's concern. We feel better for having people who value us and our human potential. Girls and women are treated harshly, and that must change. There is need to make life shine and better for our people. By having even a little bit improved life, many changes will follow. My heart and soul only sees potential in our girls.
Child marriage occurs when girls as young as 8 years are cut and traded for livestock -which is the long-time measure of wealth in Maasai culture.
The girls are forced to marry men, who are older and possess more livestock.
Once purchased,a girl “bride” becomes a 3rd, 4th, or 5th wife - low-status servant with little freedom to make any of her own personal choices.
She’ll bear as many children as possible, whatever her state of health or feelings about motherhood.
FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (FGM)
FGM was introduced to the Maasai of Africa by Arab raiders and traders, hundreds of years ago. FGM is unnecessary surgery, performed on girls, aged 8 to 12. The girl’s female anatomy is cut away with a sharpened stone or razor, while the girl is fully conscious.
FGM has absolutely no medical benefits, but many harmful effects. A small portion of girls will die from the procedure. Many develop acute and/or ongoing problems, such as chronic infection. Girls who have been cut become women devoid of sexual feeling.
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Maasai Girls Fund Officers
Molly McKaughan, W. Orange, NJ
Amanda George, NY NY
Deb Maclean, Bloomfield, NJ
Benjamin Tabor, Washington, DC
Leonard Klein, West Orange, NJ
Stephanie Forest, Ringwood, NJ
Ryan Forest, Ringwood, NJ
with the help of our generous donors.
We are delighted and proud that Stephanie and Ryan Forest have joined us as board officers, and are actively helping us to expand our services to other vulnerable Maasai girls.
Working with Kenyan village teacher Luka Sante, Stephanie and Ryan have taken full responsibility for sponsoring 10 girls from a second Amboseli village, adding to our roster of sponsored students.
Nine of the 10 now attend Kimana Naramatisho Academy. The 10th is a high school student at South Kimana Girls High School, where all Maasai Girls Fund students will go from now on.
That's 10 more girls who are safe from harm and child marriage - 10 more who will be valued and respected for their abilities to do math and communicate in the national languages of Kenya (Swahili and English) - 10 more who will be free to make their own life choices.
Thank you, Stephanie and Ryan!