The Maasai Girls Rescue Center (MGRC) was born of an idea Rick Morro had after being introduced to the Maasai on a church short term mission trip in 2012. He was introduced to the poverty and the ever-smiling faces of the children. Initially Rick started by feeding the children who lived in the vicinity of his house on the border of Tanzania and Kenya. The children who did attend school would walk 10 kilometres one way through the bush to school. Many days not having anything to eat prior to their journey. The children started coming to his house as early as 6 am to get a few pieces of bread or whatever he had to start their day. The children some a young as 2 years old would come to his house for lunch, where Rick would cook for himself and share what was cooked with up to 20 children at a time. Rick was determined to try and help as many of these children as he could.
Rick was introduced to a community based organization named LOOCIP, a local non profit, in Longido Tanzania in early 2017. LOOCIP was a project of World Vision International which has been in existence since 2004. The advantage for our MGRC project was that there was water, electricity, and existing structures that could be converted for housing, feeding and educating the rescued girls. The buildings consist of a 20 room hostel that could house 40 girls, several rooms for cooking and classrooms, toilets and showers were also available. The facilities were in disrepair and with help from volunteers, they rolled up their sleeves and refurbish the facilities, including a new fence around the 20 acre property. The hostel repairs and updates included painting everything, 18 new doors, a clothes washing station, tile in the showers, toilets, and pavers in the court yard were added.
During this transitional period, Rick was supporting 4 girls in a private school in Namanga, and paying their room and board at a grandmothers’ boma close to the private school. In July of 2017, he officially opened and welcomed 4 girls to MGRC from Namanga school, he even transported them to Longido. His goal was to take the poorest of the poor, most at-risk girls running away from FGM and early forced child-marriage. His next girl came to the Center from the local social services. She was 8 years old and was being forced to marry a man almost 50 years old. It’s illegal in Tanzania to be forced to marry but not always enforced. Luckily this girl was saved and brought to the Center. She never attended school prior to joining MGRC, and only spoke Ma, the Maasai language. She’s in school, speaking Kiswahili, learning English, and doing well. It was while she attended school that we discovered she had vision problems, we provided her with corrective glasses and is excelling in her studies.
By the end of the first year, there were 21 girls living at the Center. Rick sponsored two others at a vocational boarding school, both of whom ran away from forced marriages. They live at the Center during their school breaks.
The MGRC’s positive impact has spread through the tribe. Rick has mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and even fathers that ask him – almost daily – to take their girls. Longido district is a very harsh and poor district. Families recognize that the girls at MGRC are healthy and are also getting a quality education. Our issue is we cannot afford to take them all. We do take severe cases and pray for a donor to come and support them. We only take the poorest girls who are starving, abused, or being forced to marry before they get their education.
Currently, we rent the facilities at LOOCIP. Our goal is to acquire land of our own so we can build newer facilities and develop sustainable projects – this helps cover some of the operational costs at the Center. Our plans include housing for 100 girls, dairy cattle to provide milk for the girls (extra milk would be sold to cover caring for the cows), a garden to grow vegetables for the girls and fodder for the cattle, chickens, and a goat farm for extra income.
These are ambitious plans, but if anyone told Rick 7 years ago that he would be living in Africa and currently raising 44 girls, he would have thought that improbable. God has His plan and Rick knows He has a plan for the MGRC girls.
Rick Morro, Founder
I feel grateful for this opportunity to use my blessings to help people I never even knew existed a few years ago. I had a somewhat comfortable life. I had a nice house in the suburbs of Phoenix Arizona. I had a nice vehicle and many very good friends. I enjoyed golf and when I thought I needed to escape and relax more than a retired man already was experiencing I would go fishing. Where I lived had very good lakes for bass fishing and I really enjoyed fly fishing in New Mexico.
Before I retired I thought that I would spend the rest of my life enjoying doing these hobbies and attending the various Men’s Groups I was involved in. It didn’t take long after retirement for me to be totally restless. I could not understand exactly why as I had no desire to go back into the work force even though I considered it as a way to try to fill the void. I was constantly feeling empty and restless to do something with the rest of my life. I prayed and asked God for direction. God answers prayers but not always in the time frame we seek. It took a year of my looking at various volunteer organizations. I did not find anything that pulled me to join any of the organizations I looked into or I was not even contacted after applying on-line for international volunteer opportunities.
As with all of God’s plans He knows how and when it is the right opportunity and the right time.
Early in 2012 I voiced my frustration about the lack of response to my efforts and he directed me to the outreach pastor at a church I attended when I was up in the area to play golf or have lunch with friends after church. I was not a regular attendee but many of my men’s group members were. Long story short, if that is possible with me, I called the outreach pastor that day and told him I was a retired business man who wanted to volunteer for a long-term assignment in either Asia (my first choice), or Africa. He told me he was leaving to go to Tanzania the next day, for me to send my resume to him and we would talk when he returned. I have to admit I did not think Tanzania was a hardship assignment or that the people were in such great need. In the summer of 2012 I made my first short-term mission trip to Tanzania with the church group. All my presumptions of exotic animals and safaris to beautiful national parks were confirmed but the poverty and hardship I saw was overwhelming. I know this is where God wanted me to be.
I have been in Tanzania over 7 years now. It has not been smooth sailing and it is usually because I try to get ahead of the real plan, which of course if God’s. I have been totally fulfilled during the entire time I have been in Tanzania. I am tired many nights from driving on rough roads and trying to find material we need for improving our girls lives. In all of my days here and all of the efforts I and my colleagues have made there is a real joy in what has been happening.