Maasai Girls Rescue Center’s ecoVillage is founded on the premise that the only lasting way to help people is to teach them how to help themselves.
Maasai girls who come to the Center are alone, struggling for survival, suffering physical and emotional trauma from endemic poverty and cultural mores. Though female genital mutilation has been banned by the Tanzanian government, it is still practiced by many Maasai people, as is arranged marriage for young girls to much older men. Without intervention, these girls likely would die or endure scarred lives.
MGRC’s ecoVillage, a living and learning center in Karatu, would break this seemingly inevitable cycle by offering a stable, loving and healthy environment – and a fulfilling future – to these deserving girls.
Rather than becoming fateful victims, Maasai girls could assume control of their destiny.
This vision of the Maasai Girls Rescue Center’s permanent home is fast becoming reality, with construction of the ecoFarm (Phase 1) completed.
“For me, it’s a dream come true,” said Rick Morro, a retired Scottsdale businessman who founded MGRC after travelling to Tanzania in 2012. “We’re building on what has worked in the past – for us and for others – to create a self-sustaining community.”
Imagine it: 120 girls and 30 buildings on a 15-acre ecoVillage in Karatu, gateway to the nearby Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park.
On one end of the property sits an ecoFarm with a barn for cows, chickens, pigs, rabbits, a hydroponics fodder system, and a bio-gas fuel system. On a hilltop, an ecoLodge overlooks the Rift Valley, offering expansive views for visiting tourists, many who have come on safari. Other elements of the children’s village include a job training center; a preschool; a kitchen and dining hall; and living quarters for long-term volunteers.
The ecoVillage masterplan (pdf) was designed without charge by ClarkeHopkinsClarke, a globally renowned architectural firm in Australia.
Raising girls as our own daughters
Our girls come to us alone, struggling for survival, many suffering physical and emotional trauma.
We want to raise them as we would our own daughters.
In a home, not a dormitory. With consistency and love from caring adults – Tanzanian house mothers, social workers and a paternal presence in their lives. Nutritious food and adequate healthcare. School and homework. Playtime and sports.
Currently more than 50 girls are staying temporarily in a rental property MGRC is leasing in Karatu less than a mile away from the eco-Village site. It’s an ideal location and facility for the time being.
We plan to construct five homes on the permanent site, eventually expanding to ten homes for 120 girls, with a playing field. Each home will shelter 12 girls and two house mothers. Girls will be grouped by age so they can help each other with schoolwork and learning life skills.
A vocational training center also will be built for learning life skills, business managment, and finance. Some girls will continue their education to secondary school and university, with ever-expanding career options.
Their paths will lead the girls and their community up and out of poverty.
EcoFarm feeds village residents
Eco-Farming combines modern science and innovation with respect for nature and biodiversity. Our vision of sustainabilityand food security is one in which food is grown with health and safety first.
The ecoFarm will feature a barn for six zero-grazing dairy cows, 200 layer and broiler chickens, pigs, rabbits, hydrophonics fodder system, aquaponics, gardens, a greenhouse and nursery, bio-gas fuel system, storage and two farm caretakers’ homes.
The cows are zero-grazing, meaning food is brought to them rather than turning them out to graze in fields. The hydroponics system uses recycled water, about 90 percent less than traditional farming.
MGRC has always been committed to growing our own food in harmony with the surroundings. Our founder Rick Morro began his work in Tanzania by developing a drip irrigation farm for two schools at a different location. Later, in Longido, he developed a small farm and raised livestock at the compound that served as the center for five years prior to the move this year to Karatu.
“Purpose-driven travel” and “impact travel” are terms for a growing sector within the tourism industry that caters to people who want to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.
MGRC’s ecoLodges will offer that experience to socially conscious tourists visiting Tanzania’s wild game preserves. By interacting with the girls, staff and local community members, visitors can observe and learn first-hand about the Maasai people and the region.
At a 40 percent guest occupancy rate, income generated by the lodge will cover the annual operations of MGRC.
Tanzania’s tourism sector has long been one of the nation’s largest industries. More than one million people typically visit each year, most coming for a wildlife safari.
Of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, three are located in Tanzania: the Ngorongoro Crater (just 50 kilometers away from the MGRC site), Serengeti National Park and Mt. Kilimanjaro. Tanzania has six World Heritage Sites.
Though the pandemic reduced international tourism, travel is picking up again and expected to flourish by 2022, just in time for the ecoLodge opening.
“The ecoLodge for visitors will produce enough revenue to cover our annual operating expenses so we no longer have to rely on donations.” ~Rick Morro, MGRC founder
MAKE AN IMPACT
Your contribution will generate a positive, measurable social and environmental impact.
PHASE 1: Funded. Acquired 15 acres of land in Karatu, Tanzania, built access roads, and fully-operational ecoFarm with bio-gas fuel system, hydroponic fodder system, aquaponics, gardens, and livestock. View ecoFarm
PHASE 2: Construction of ecoVillage property fencing for 12 acres, a security gate, night watchman shelter – Funded. Raising Funds for multi-purpose hall, main kitchen, and the girls’ ecoHomes (10).
PHASE 3: Build the ecoLodges (4), pre-school, vocational training center, sports field and running track, and administration buildings.