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 were in Africa 2005 and experienced the need in the schools there. I knew I wanted to contribute something towards education, the need was so great. Looking online, I found the Maasai Girls Education Fund. I was inspired by how the founder, Barbara Lee Shaw, responded to the need she saw while there as a photographer. I choose one of the students to sponsor, and if I have any question about her needs or progress, Ms Shaw answers me immediately and fully. She knows her students and has such fondness for all their welfare.
For the past five years we have had the pleasure of sponsoring the education of a young Maasai girl. She is now in high school. MGEF has done an exceptional job of changing the lives of many young Maasai girls through education. These girls, when educated, are worth far more than the five cows they bring to their families when they are married off at a young age. With their education, they bring help to their villages, their families and their country. We are proud to be a part of this stellar effort by MGEF to help so many girls and their families.
About 7 years ago I went Kenya on Safari and upon my return I wanted to give something back to that wonderful country and it's woman. I contacted Maasai Girls Education Fund and they found Miriam for me. She was about 8 years old at the time. Her mother had just died from Aids and her family was about to have her circumcised and married off to receive the bride price of cows. Miriam is now a happy young woman going to school with a much brighter future ahead of her. Barbara Shaw is tireless in her work to help these young woman have a better life. I can't imagine a better use of my money than to improve the life of a child.
We found MGEF on the web, while looking for help in supporting a girl we knew in Kenya. Barbara Shaw and the MGEF is without a doubt one of the most effective organizations for the empowerment of women and girls I have ever encountered. The positive social changes that have come about and will continue as these young women are educated and return to their communities cannot be overestimated. The MGEF website tells the story well, but there is so much more to it.
I have had the privilege of seeing Barbara create the MGEF according to the vision that came to her that first time she went back to Kenya. I have known her since our school days and knew immediately how uniquely qualified she is to make a non-profit like this work and how completely scrupulously she would see to the administration of it for the benefit of the girls, the culture and the future. I chose to support the general fund to give Barbara as much leeway as possible to take care of needs as they arose.
I found out about MGEF and was thrilled to have the opportunity to support girls trying to get an education. Barbara has provided a safe and direct way to help young women in Kenya go to school instead of being married off at ages 10 or 11. I was honored to meet the first girl I supported at an International Girls conference in Minnesota two years ago. Then I met her again in NYC when she participated in the UN Commission on the Status of Women. I know she will go far in life in part due to having the chance to go to school.
MGEF is a fantastic organization that provides young Maasai girls with the opportunity to attend school in Kenya. MGEF is blessed with a core of very dedicated, hard-working individuals, and with relatively low overhead costs, they are able to achieve impressive results. We receive regular updates from the young Maasai girl that we sponsor, and have watched her grow over the years. She often tells us about how meaningful the sponsorship of MGEF has been in her life, and we look forward to sponsoring more students in the future. This is a truly unique organization, and I highly encourage others to get involved!
The Maasai Girls Education Fund run by Barbara Shaw is empowering young women in Kenya with scholarships so that they can lift themselves and their families out of poverty. The MGEF graduates are working in fields like teaching, nursing, and hospitality. They are grateful for their educations and committed to ensuring their own children, especially their daughters receive an education. MGEF is well-run and well-organized. Every single penny raised is used to supply what the students need to attend school - pencils, paper, shoes, etc. Having personally met many of the students I can tell you they are wonderful young women who are the future of their country and our world!
I recently returned from a two week trip to Kenya visiting various non-profits working there to empower women. The group I traveled with had the opportunity to meet with Barbara Shaw, the founder of Maasai Girls Education Fund,a member of her staff, and an amazing young woman the organization is educating named Caroline. I was so impressed with their presentation and the organization. What makes them different as a sponsorship program is that once they begin to educate a Maasai girl, they commit to support her year after year from primary school through university. Caroline, the young women rescued by MGEF, who will begin her university education in the next term, ended her talk by saying, "You cannot sell me for cows, you cannot touch my body, I am entitled to an education and my life is mine to determine!". That is an empowered young woman!
On my first trip to Nairobi, I met these two young girls at a well dedication in the upcountry. When I returned to the US, my heart was burdened for these two young girls and I did not know why. I had a friend returning a few months later and I begged him to find "my girls" and see what they needed. I gave him a photo and told him the general area of where I saw them. And he found them--my friend met with the chief and the parents of the girls and the mother and the chief agreed that if I send the girls to boarding school, that the father would not be permitted to give the oldest in marriage when she turned 12--she was 11 at the time and the younger one who was 10, alomst 11. I agreed. On my next visit to Nairobi, I visited the girls in the school and became VERY concerned because the amount of money that I was sending for school was more than I paid for my nephews private school fees and tuition, but the school my girls were in was very "unkept" and had very few books/supplies. Discouraged, I returned to the US and was searching online and found Barbara and the Maasai Girls Education Fund. I called Barbara and spoke with her at lengths about my situation and she investigated the matter on her next trip to Nairobi and informed me that the school that my girls were attending was "known" to take advantage of American donors. She recommended some schools in Kajiado District that she deals with on a regular basis. I spoke the the mother of my girls and Barbara's liaison in Kenya (Lucy) and we picked a school that was more suitable for my girls. On my next trip to Nairobi, I visited with my girls in their new school and met with the headmaster and Lucy. I was very pleased with the progress that my girls were making in school and the appearance of the facility. I was VERY BLESSED to have found Barbara and Maasai Girls Education Fund. I know that every dollar that I send for the education and welfare of my two girls is spent directly for their education and welfare. And, when I have overpaid due to favorable currency exchange rates, Barbara notifies me and modifies the next year's fees to account for the overpayment. The Maasai Girls Education Fund works on the principles of INTEGRITY and ACCOUNTABILITY. Not to mention that they are very knowledgable of the issues directly affecting the Maasai girls: lack of education, early marriage, and female genital mutilation--it is this knowledge that creates a GENUINE concern to help the young girls--AND THAT ATTRACTED ME TO THIS ORGANIZATION. Thank you for helping me help educate and empower my girls. You are truly and God-send.