Our involvement with the people of Engong Narok began in 2012 when we visited the small village located in Amboseli National Park while on safari.
There, our stunned eyes beheld hardscrabble living conditions unlike any we had ever seen before: No plumbing or sanitation, no power, no lighting, and a brutal draught to boot. Despite these harsh conditions, we found Chief Benson Kelembu, and teacher Moses Saruni, to be cordial, intelligent, and honest. In the years since, we've experienced their reliability, honesty and trustworthiness over and over.
Back home, in a surprising co-incidence, we were later introduced to a visiting Maasai leader: Joseph Ole Tipanko and his wife Cecilia, who were speaking at the UN against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Child Marriage.
Cecilia educated us about the realities of life for Maasai women who are considered the property of men, and often akin to livestock. We learned that girls as young as 8 years suffered FGM - genital cutting - so that they could be traded as "child brides" in exchange for 3 or 4 cows.
We asked Joseph to speak to local chief Benson, who agreed to try Joseph's technique by talking to girls. Benson found 5 brave girls who were willing to go to school instead of being cut and married. Moses and Benson found an accredited school for the girls, and Paul and I agreed to cover school costs. My Pequannock Valley Rotary Club, and a few friends, pitched in to help.
When the 5 came home on their first break, the change in them was so positive that every girl in the village soon wanted to go to school! Since we personally couldn't afford to send them all, we formed the The Maasai Girls Fund, a US 501 (c)(3) public charity.
We – including our friends in Engong Narok village with whom we are in close touch - are grateful for any help you can offer. Please share this site with others who may be interested as well. Thank you
Sincerely, Avery (Irene) and Paul Mantell