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
My mother, Barbara Lee Shaw, founded the Maasai Girls Education Fund (MGEF) in 2000. She died of cancer in 2013, and I, an Emergency Physician in the Washington, DC area, am proud to inherit the honor of her legacy.
MGEF primarily puts Maasai girls and young women through school who would otherwise not have a chance at education. Most would instead be forced into early marriage (we have rescued girls as young as nine years old from marriage). Our mission is to improve the literacy, health, and economic well-being of Maasai women in Kenya and their families through the education of girls and their communities. To this end, we also conduct Maasai Community and Women's Business Training Workshops (which include start-up loans), but our first commitment is to sponsoring Maasai girls in school. We support our students in all ways, and we see them through to the highest level of achievement their abilities and ambition allow.
All MGEF scholarships are purely need based, and we currently have more than 100 girls in school. Since 2000, we have graduated nearly 50 more--strong, young Maasai women now, and role models for others as they return to their communities to work as teachers, nurses, and business owners, to name a few of their chosen professions. Many more scholarship students are on the verge of their own graduations and success. One MGEF scholarship recipient for the last 9 years, for example, is about to enter her final year of medical school at the University of Nairobi School of Medicine. Another young Maasai woman, supported by MGEF since 2002, has just started law school, also in Nairobi, Kenya.
I am proud of my mother, her life's work, and all she created in MGEF that inspires and helps others become all they can be and that they deserve the chance to become. Barbara Shaw loved her Maasai sisters, her daughters, her friends--and, in making her vision my own, I am committed to keeping MGEF the personal, just, efficient, culturally respectful, and incredibly effective organization she created it to be. MaasaiGirlsEducation.org
I have been involved with MGEF as a donor since it started more than a decade ago, and never has money been better spent. I have met the girls who benefit from MGEF sponsorship, and seen them change from shy, deferential girls into strong, confident, self-empowered young women who believe in themselves. Thanks to MGEF's efforts, Maasai mothers are seeing their daughters respected and admired for their abilities, their independence, their education--for qualities they themselves never believed possible for a woman in their society. Younger sisters and neighbors have role models in the young women MGEF has supported. Even fathers who once refused to speak to daughters who ran away and were sheltered in schools paid for by MGEF are now seeing the benefits of educating their daughters, as their daughters return to their Maasai communities and provide for their families financially in amounts never previously equaled. These same fathers who once were ashamed of their daughters for seeking an education are now commanding their sons to educate their daughters! Because of the Maasai Girls Education Fund's vision and commitment, many, many lives are changing for the better. I will continue to support the MGEF's mission without question, and recommend it to anyone wanting to help make a real difference in the world.
The MGEF is a great example of directly empowering "the change (we) wish to see in the world." The young women educated through MGEF will be catalysts for change in their families, communities, and country. It is a privilege to have participated in this work, and I look forward to hearing of the continued efforts and growth of MGEF, and the success of its scholars.
I came across MGEF by chance, looking for a sanitary pad charity to support in Africa. Having found their website, and started reading about the girls who needed sponsorship, I immediately knew that I had found a charity which could truly turn my donation into life-changing support for girls. I started off by supporting Nashipae in her final year of university to become a teacher, and also this year have started supporting Janet through school. This charity is run on a very small shoestring. There are no gimmicks. You don't get fancy mailings asking you to send a Christmas card to your chosen student. There are no offices full of marketeers and HR people. It's about as close as you can get to 100% of your money going to the people and the community you are looking to help. Do check out their Facebook page, and the wonderful photos of the MGEF girls. You will, I am sure, have your heart strings tugged by the joy they show at the opportunity they now have to learn. An amazing charity, please support it in whatever way you can.
MGEF is quite simply a model non-profit. It is small, efficient and has a sustainable model involving local people. We have been delighted to be supporters of the organization and to introduce it to others. Supporting students is a life changing, not only for the students, but for their families and villages. This organization is truly a tribute to the vision and drive of their founder, Barbara Shaw.
MGEF is so amazing. I first learned of them in 2011 when I was asked if my foundation, Reverse The Course, could provide immediate help for a young girl who had been married at age 12. Two years have passed, and we now have funded 5 Maasai girls. I think one of the things that makes Maasai Girls' Education Fund stand out is that they work on several fronts to help the girls in need, and just as importantly, they also do a lot of work building relationships with the village elders. They do not come in and try to impose their values, but they work to help village elders see the community benefit of educating girls. The village elders then play a role in helping families understand the value of sending their daughters' to school. That joint approach helps MGEF to be really successful and gives the girls not just much-needed financial commitment but also community support. - Thanks for all you do! MG, Reverse The Course
The MGEF is doing an outstanding job providing an education for girls in the Maasai tribe. We have funded a student for years and it has been an honor to do so. The staff is small, organized and devoted to their task. If you are looking to make a difference, think about funding a MGEF student.
Over the years we have made donations to various organizations but none have made the positive impact MGEF had made on the lives of Maasai girls and their homeland. Barbara Shaw is outstanding in her leadership of MGEF and it is an honor to contribute to her mission.
This non-profit is awesome for what they do with a minute staff and a limited budget. The work they do truly benefits on an immediate and long term basis the lives of girls and young women of the Maasai people of Kenya. Helping these girls and young women, many of whom are orphans, to gain an education and escape child marriage are the goals of MGEF and one that they pursue with dedication and grace.
MFEG is an amazing organization. I truly believe that the answer to many of the world's greatest challenges is to educate women. When you educate a girl, you give her the opportunity to make a better life for herself, her family, and her community. As a donor, I know that giving to MGEF is a excellent investment and one that will make a difference in lives of their students.
Maasai Girls Education Fund is, without a doubt, the most effective small nonprofit I support. As a donor, I know that my contribution is positively impacting young Kenyan girls and their communities. What a gift to know that as little as $10 can send several children to a Life Skills workshop. When the President, Barbara Lee Shaw, sends updates, I learn exactly how MGEF is changing lives, and how I am a part of that change. I wholeheartedly encourage others to join the cause.
I learned of the Maasai Girls Education fun through my church. I realized that while it only takes $250 to fund one year of schooling for one child, I was wearing a pair of $100 shoes and had at least two more pairs at home that cost that much. I was ashamed that I was not doing more for people like the Maasai girls. I further looked at the organization and realized how committed the leaders were and knew I could make a difference - a small difference but yet a difference. People ask me why I choose to fund this organization when there are many need within the United States. I answer, "Yes, there are many needy in the United States and many outstretched hands to help them. The Maasai girls deserve this chance also so I have extended what I can to them. Not only my parents but community members helped me to get a bachelor's and master's degree - it's now my turn to pay it forward."