A bit about the Maasai Girls Education Fund, from the daughter of MGEF Founder, Barbara Lee Shaw The Maasai Girls Education Fund works to raise the status of Maasai women in Kenya and end poverty by educating girls, women, and the Maasai community. Our Scholarship Program sponsors Maasai girls from primary school through university who otherwise would not be in school. Our Community Education Program holds workshops for Maasai girls, boys, women, and men to focus on the cultural practices and beliefs that keep girls out of school. We work in partnership with a Community Based Organization that we co-founded and fund. It is managed by Maasai women, and includes a network of 43 women and 14 chiefs who volunteer throughout the area where we work. Scholarships Program: Since 2000, our Scholarships Program has sponsored 179 girls from pre-school to university. Many were rescued from child marriages as young as nine years old, and one from child labor. Three key policies: NUMBER 1: Our scholarships are based on need, not merit. They go to girls like: Jane Tulasha who was discovered when she was 8 years old selling food to construction workers to earn money for her family. She had never enrolled in school. Her sisters were married off at ages 12 and 14. She is now in the eighth grade. And Emily Namunyene, whose mother died when she was ten years old. She had just completed the second grade. Her father was so old that he was unable to take care of her so she was left in the care of an older sister and her husband. Her uncle refused to send her to school and had planned to marry her off when one of the Kajiado volunteers asked MGEF to save her. She has now graduated from the University of Nairobi with a certificate in International Studies. And Reson Mpatinae who was actually married off at 9 years old. With the help of women activists, she was rescued and brought to the Kajiado Adventist School which has a shelter for girls. Reson cannot go home. She is supported by MGEF, safely enrolled in boarding school. These are just a few stories of many, many more MGEF-supported girls whose parents simply cannot afford school fees. NUMBER 2: We do not drop students for any reason. Since our scholarships are based on need, we don’t know how our students will perform in school. Many of our students struggle throughout primary and secondary school. When they are having trouble, we mentor them, we encourage them, we stay with them, and they graduate and go on to vocational schools. Some even go to colleges and universities. Without exception, every single poor-performing student has excelled in post-secondary school, and all who have graduated are employed and self-sustaining. MGEF's graduation rate from primary school is 95% (compared to 29% of Kenya's general Maasai population); MGEF's transition rate from primary to secondary school is 98% (compared to 18%); MGEF's graduation rate from secondary school is 87% (versus 8%); MGEF's transition rate from secondary to postsecondary education is 95% (versus 3%); and MGEF's graduation rate from postsecondary enrollment is 97% (compared with
I am writing this as a relative of one of the beneficiary. Through them many girls from our community get to have the chance to go to school which is not usually a priority for most parents in our community. Having being orphaned at a young age, MGEF came through with my sister's education till she graduated with a university degree.
Keep up with the good work of empowering the Masai girl child.
Great cause that changes people's perceptions and lives.
The work of Maasai Girls Education Fund is most impressive. I am grateful for their efforts to educate girls and to keep them from getting married until they are adults. The stories I've heard about the accomplishments of these girls is so inspiring. The work MGEF is doing to eradicate female genital mutilation is extremely important. I can't say enough about Maasai Girls Education Fund and I plan to continue to support this exemplary organization.
Maasai Girls Education Fund does great things for both the individual girls of the Maasai and their surrounding communities. By giving young women the option to learn rather than get married, they are bringing more knowledge to the community, which leads to improvements in their economy, family planning, educational values and civil rights. This is one of the best non-profits out there.
When I travelled with Barbara about ten years ago to see the schools where the Maasai girls are educated and to visit some of the villages that the girls come from, I was struck by the daunting task that Barbara had before her. Barbara was in this for the long haul. I was also struck by the enthusiasm the Maasai girls in the schools had for this project, they knew exactly what they wanted. They and their stories speak for themselves. Barbara has given every ounce of her energy to this project since then. She is unwavering in her determination to not only help individual girls but to enable Maasai women to run the organisation and continue the work. She guides this relatively small organisation with all the professionalism and integrity of a major operator, whilst retaining 'hands on' interest in all its workings and each and every girl. Barbara regularly visits the schools and lives amongst the Maasai in their villages. She trains and mentors the women who administer the organisation in Kenya. No money is wasted and she tolerates no corruption or mis-dealings. Many involved are volunteers inspired by Barbara and the work of the MGEF. This work is not only of significance to the girls she is helping to educate and the communities they will be returning to, but to the world in general. The Maasai live in an important eco-system, where so much depends on future management and interaction with land, resources and wild life. Sustainability and true progress are at the heart of what Barbara is doing. Progress means that we are able to understand, revere and retain all that is useful and important from our past whilst leaving behind ideas and practices that have lost their relevance. Alongside this, progress implies that we embrace innovative ideas and practices that help us preserve ourselves, our cultures and the world systems we share with all living things. 'Progress' also implies that the rate at which we both learn from the past and prepare for the future increases, keeping pace with the changes we experience, The medium through which this is enabled is 'education' and the role of women in the community is especially significant. The girls that are being educated with the help of the MGEF represent their culture and are the future of that culture. A flourishing future culture depends on a balance in the power, influence and knowledge of both men and women. I believe that Barbara has established a blueprint that can provide a model for others. The work she is doing is superb. One can only imagine what more can be done with greater resources and support. I hope in the future to encourage schools in the uK to become involved in the MGEF as I believe that young people here can learn from what the fund is accomplishing and from the Maasai girls who are now being educated. The girls can now speak for themselves and communicate their rich experiences and hopes for the future.