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 volunteered for MGEF in the past and fell in love with its mission, and with the passion exuded by the women and men that carry out its mission. The impact that this organization directly has on girls and women in Kenya, and indirectly on their families and greater communities, is real and truly inspiring. I am now proudly serving as a member of the Board, and am excited to do what I can to further its mission.
Fantastic organization. I've traveled to Kenya with MGEF on many occasions, and I'm always amazed by the great work we do.
I'm proud to serve on the board of an organization committed to helping Maasai girls and their families achieve financial security. Building on a 15-year track record of success, we now have many students who are ready to further their education beyond high school pursuing degrees in medicine, teaching, and law. I hope you will consider sponsoring a young Maasai woman who would like to continue her studies. With your help we can make dreams come true.
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.
A development professional once told me that the most effective way to achieve development in an African country is to educate the girls. And that is exactly what MGEF does. When you educate a girl, she develops the skills to earn a living and help support her family. Her knowledge and industry also brings economic benefits as well as new ideas to her village. And the educated young woman herself becomes a role model for the girls who follow her. I believe MGEF does wonderful work. Its work is "on the ground" -- it is culturally sensitive in its dealing with parents, village elders, gender issues, etc. -- and it provides Maasai girls in Kenya an alternative to marriage at the age of eleven or twelve and a life of poverty.
I have been associated with this charity for more than 10 years. I have listened and watched as Barbara Shaw, the driving force for this organization, dealt with governmental obstacles, cultural differences, prejudice against girls and women to ensure an organization that would support girls to obtain education and/or training that would provide the skills needed to earn money, return to their community to provided needed services, thereby increasing the economic, health, and education opportunities in their own community. The girls receive scholarships with the expectation that they will help other girls to realize they do not have to marry at age 13, but have other options. I have seen one girl return to her community as a nurse, providing needed health care, and raising the standard of living for her parents and other relatives. This organization works hard to keep the girls in school and find the best educational or vocational training that will lead to economic independence.
Our family has been supporting the Maasai Girls Education Fund (MGEF) since its inception by sponsoring the education fees for several of its participants, girls who would otherwise not have the opportunity to go to school. MGEF, and its director, Barbara Shaw, have not only enabled the education of dozens of girls, including several who have now graduated from school and have productive jobs in their communities, but have also successfully made inroads into changing the mindset of the Maasai to support women's education and to recognize the positive ramifications of women's education on families and community welfare. We highly recommend supporting this organization.