Changing lives for the better
Visit to Amboseli - May 2022
1. We are grateful!! Thank you, NVC Tours and Travel Agency, run by former "Mrs. Kenya", Caroline Verkaik and her husband David. They are organizing annual Kenyan tours that included days of service, and after meeting us decided to focus on the people, village and schools we help! The tour occurred in May, and was a wonderful time for everyone involved.
2. On our visit we met with a Dutch Reformed church Bishop and water experts to see if we might be able to get clean water access for the surrounding villages. Access to clean water is transformational. Please keep your fingers crossed!
3. June 2022: PAID! Thanks to our donors: Costs for 2022 tuition, room, board and uniforms for 8 high school girls have been fully paid and we are up to date paying for our 37 elementary students.
4. The women's goat herd continues to grow, and the animals have been vaccinated, thanks to our donors. The widows and single mothers of the village now have more food security, thanks to the yogurt and cheese the goats provide.
OCT. 2021 6 unacceptable toilets at Naramatisho elementary school ("the nurturing place") have been re-tiled. See Before and After pix in photos)
MAY 2021 saw our 1st two TEACHER COLLEGE GRADUATES: Both are over 21, and now married to young men of their choice! With the blessing of the local chief. Both are certified in Early Education!
May 2021 to March 2022 The MADISON, NJ Rotary/Interact initiatives keep coming! In May, Rotarian John Hogan, teacher Carol Rawding, student leaders, Nina Kornchangal and Owen Weller and other Madison NJ high school students raised enough to sponsor Leah Malano, a Maasai student for 4 years of HS! • The American students also made inter-cultured videos of themselves to share with the Maasai students, and composed 35+ Letters of Encouragement for individual elementary students •
2021 VILLAGE PROJECTS
In Spring, we purchased 13 female goats and 3 billygoats to give one each to the 13 village widows. (Alas, in the patriarchal world of the Maasai, single women and widows have no traditional means of support. ) The HERD has grown to 22. Each goat provides cheese and yogurt, defending against food insecurity.
SUMMER 2021 The village women, through our program director, Moses Saruni, purchased COVID MASKS at 10 cents each in the city, which village women sold at a profit in Amboseli. They used profits to purchase goat feed during the dry season.
June-Sept. Paid 3 months advance of salary ($100 per month) for the village nursery teacher, so in order retain her services during covid.
STRING LIGHTS Sent replacements to Engong-Narok; Awaiting 2022 opportunity to transport for 2 more villages. (Solar string lights keep hyenas and lions away in the middle of the night!
TRANSPORTATION Since Moses since he travels to several schools on behalf of our program. The car will also be available to transport supplies and for medical emergencies.
NEW ISSUES 1. Getting water to near-by villages: Well or borehole.... 2. Travel possibilities 3. Fund-raising Efforts/Opportunities 4. Enhancing social media presence
5. Reaching out for Private Foundation support
At Last - Clean Water!
Before the Maasai Girls Fund, the villagers had no access to clean water. Maasai Girls Fund paid for pipes covered with concrete that connect the village to a nearby borehole. We then installed two 10,000 liter water tanks of clean water inside the thorn fence - enough for people, livestock, and even nearby wildlife.
NOW we're preparing a grant proposal for Rotary International with the aim of digging a solar-powered well to serve up to 5 of the 7 local villages. The Maasai have told us that clean water access is the single most transformative thing our funhas done there.
Sun Flair Solar Cookers
We brought 2 "Sun Flair" solar cookers on our 2019 visit, and the Rotary Club of Newark, NJ, has funded two more, The women share the cookers, whch have proven to be time-saving, effective, and safer for lungs, eyes, and the environment!
We hope to provide one for each household in future. Donations have already come in for 5 more!
Solar cookers mean:
1. No more long distance walk, foraging for scarce wood. Every tree and bush that is not cut for cooking fires continues to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere;
2. Less smoke pollution inside villagers' huts, avoiding injuries to eyes and lungs.
Solar panels save time and provide light. We supplied the village with four, freeing hours spent walking to charge one of the few village cell phones.
In typical Maasai fashion, the villagers donated 2 of their panels to the local public school which had a single bulb for an entire dormitory.
String Lights to the Rescue!
We intended these solar lights for our friends' dark homes. But the community told us the lights were more useful when placed on the outer thorn fence, to keep hyenas and lions away at night. Since then, there have been NO incursions by predators for over two years!
Thanks to members of the Montclair, NJ Rotary Club, we provided a new set for the entire village. And we hope to soon provide lights for six neighboring villages as well.
The village asked for sanitation, so we funded materials for four outhouses -- their first ever. Outhouses cost $650 to build, and the Maasai villagers can always use more.
In 2018, when the Kenyan government forced Ngong'Narok village to relocate two miles away to a safer location, further from a wildlife corridor, we paid for the outhouses to be rebuilt, and their foundations relaid.
We moved the village kindergarten too, and the water tanks, which required re-laying the pipes to connect them back to the wellhead.
But at least our friends are in a safer location now.
Maasai are herders by tradition, with little experience growing crops. But with mega-droughts and floods made worse by climate change, herding has become a precarious lifestyle.
While preparing for our 2019 trip, the West Milford, NJ 4-H club (now Seed Solutions) gave us a large suitcase full of seeds.
Moses then found seven acres of farmland for rent at $170 per acre per year. By following the instructions on the packets, and with help from a water truck, the seeds grew, and the resulting crops provided food for the village for eight months!
We sent funds to grind and store the crops, and now our friends have a more varied diet and a stable food supply. They also have now inherited ownership of 20 acres, so no more rentals will be needed.
Lastly, we set up a program for all seven local villages, in which each family sells one goat when times are good, and puts the money into a joint bank account that can be used for food in times of need.
Since these initiatives were put into place, we've had no calls for donations for emergency food.
Small business for the Unmarried Women of the Village
Thanks to the Hanover, NJ Rotary Club, we bought 16 goats (13 females and 3 breeding males) for the widows and single women of Ngong’Narok. That total has now grown to 21 through other donations.
Goats provide food, and hopefully will become a business to build upon.
The women-owned herd is a first, but welcomed by everyone.
Each woman has pledged, a la Heifer Project, to donate the first female offspring of their goat to another single woman.
One goat costs $50, and vastly improves a single woman's life.
The women are now launching a second business, buying N95 masks in bulk in town, and selling them locally as singles.
They are happy with the results so far!
Repairing the Damage
When floods or stray elephants damage village infrastructure, our fund helps with repairs. The picture at left shows damage to the wellhead from the flooding of Dec. 2019.
Female Genital Mutilation often causes physical (as well as emotional) harm to girls. Among the worst outcomes are fistulae, which form when infection causes ulcers in the private parts. As pus from the ulcers drains, an unpleasant smell results, and these women are often shunned by the rest of the community.
Fortunately, fistulae can be fully repaired with a simple, safe surgery, provided free by the Fistula Foundation.
We are aware that several women in the villages we serve suffer from this condition. At the moment we've encountered some obstacles in the form of embarrassment over admitting the problem to others, in addition to fear of traveling and/or medical procedures. But we are working hard to help end this scourge of shame and harm.
We currently sponsor 48 girls in highly-rated boarding schools: 8 in high school ($600), the rest in elementary ($400).
They live in sex-segregated dorms watched over by matrons, eat three healthy meals a day, and learn English and Swahili, the main languages of Kenya, which Maasai normally do not speak.
Going forward, all Maasai Girls Fund elementary school graduates will attend Kimana High School, an excellent place to learn. This clip shows part of the campus, including the garden where students grow a large portion of food served.
Menstrual Pads Make A Difference
Many girls worldwide miss up to 25% of school days during menses, due to lack of underwear or pads, fear of bleeding and being shamed in school, and old taboos.
But thanks to a grant from the Denville, NJ Sunrise Rotary Club, our students - and their classmates - were provided with re-usable, washable menses kits containing 2 pairs of panties and 5 bio-degradeable pads.
The kits were handed out at a special "Girls Empowerment" event. Led by our representative Joyce Oletiptip, each girl had a the chance to voice her feelings, beliefs, and experiences about the monthly cycle.
We also bought the schools NIA "Girl Empowerment" comics, created by African women supported by the Gates Foundation.
About the boys
The boys in the village attend the local public school, which is walking distance from Ngong'Narok.
The problem is, there are 10 classrooms at the school, but the government only pays for 4 teachers! So the boys mostly sit in empty classrooms, and generally do not score well enough on standardized tests to attend high school.
We decided to do something for them until we are able to do more. So Moses organized an "END FGM" soccer tournament, and we got them nets, balls, and uniforms.
Now it's become a popular annual event with all the local villages.
COVID lockdown help
With no warning, the girls were sent home from school, upset about COVID and afraid of falling behind academically.
We helped provide PPE and educational materials, and gave our college students small stipends to tutor the younger children of the village - both boys and girls.