52 girls. 14 adults. 6 cows. 70 mattresses and 30 bunkbeds. Furniture, hundreds of boxes of clothing, kitchen goods and other belongings.
On January 30, the precious people, animals and cargo of the Maasai Girls Rescue Center made our way over rutted, muddy roads and steep mountain passes on a seven-hour journey from our old home in Longido to our new home Karatu.
I drove my car with some of my personal belongings and four of the MGRC girls. They were begging to stop in Arusha to eat pizza, which I introduced them to over the past few years. Youngsters never seem to tire and took this move as the adventure it was. Old people like me were worn out but extremely happy at the end of the day.
Months of preparation preceded the trek across Maasai land in Tanzania.
We were bursting at the seams of our Longido facility. Too many people for the buildings, not enough security, and land that did not support our sustainable food projects. A severe storm wiped out the toilets and plumbing, so there were no bathrooms or warm water, just outhouses which forced us to make this decision so quickly. Power outages were intermittent. The landlord wasn’t helpful about repairs. It was time to go!
I explored many possible sites before settling on an empty hotel with a restaurant that was available to rent – a flipside blessing to the Covid pandemic that stopped tourism.
Our rental hotel in Karatu has 15 rooms for the girls, showers, toilets, warm water – a palace! An empty courtyard gives them a place to play ball, ride bikes and have fun, all within a safely walled and gated perimeter. The house moms stay on site 24/7, and I’ve got my own place just outside their gate.
Before we landed there, I met with many of the local officials, including the district education officer and the headmaster of the school, to help make preparations for the coming surge in students. They welcomed us, and we in turn will help support the school, which is within walking distance of our new home. Already the girls are enrolled and enjoying their classes. Our cows are being cared for nearby by the lawyer who serviced the land transaction.
Best of all, our temporary quarters are less than a mile away from our new permanent site.
Our future plans are to build a sustainable ecoVillage on our own land. We bought 15 acres in Karatu to build new facilities that not only will house our girls but also give them skills to create better lives for themselves and their community for many years to come.