Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
–Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher, 4th century, BC
What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.”
― Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood, 2016
The Maasai Girls Rescue Center (MGRC) ecoVillage masterplancombines the wisdom of the ancients with down-to-earth practicality.
Teaching our girls to “fish” will require meeting their basic needs, plus some tools: a roof over their heads; a farm and barn to cultivate livestock and plants; a vocational center to learn skills; caregivers, staff and volunteers; and an ecolodge for tourists that will generate enough money to keep everything going.
For me, this is a long-time dream fulfilled.
When I came here nine years ago – a retired businessman on a church trip – I saw the poverty and living conditions of the Maasai people. I saw their girls were at the bottom of the food chain in a tribe that still practiced genital cutting. I was looking for a way to make a difference and decided to stay.
Initially I provided refuge for a few. Word spread and government child welfare authorities and families asked me to shelter more girls. Before long I realized the best way to help is to teach them to help themselves. We found a place to rent in Longido, built a drip irrigation system, planted a garden, raised livestock, enrolled the girls in school, hired staff. By 2020, we had outgrown our facility and needed a new place and a larger vision.
We wanted to create an ecoVillage in the natural splendor of Tanzania that would be ecologically and financially sustainable and self sufficient. MGRC bought 15 acres of land in Karatu, near national parks and tourist destinations such as the Ngorongoro Crater.
To help us create a masterplan, we sought assistance from Architects Without Frontiers which set up a pro bono partnership with ClarkeHopkinsClarke, a globally renowned architectural firm in Australia. Dean Landy, a partner in the firm, has experience leading One Heart Foundation to support vulnerable and orphaned children in sustainable foster care villages in neighboring Kenya and Uganda.
The firm designed a plan for MGRC that eventually will include homes for about 100 girls, a preschool, a vocational training area, dining hall, volunteer living quarters, and a farm. An ecoLodge for visiting tourists will produce revenue to cover MGRC’s annual operating expenses so we no longer have to rely on donations. The girls will learn hospitality industry skills to work at the lodge, which also will employ local people.
Though the pandemic has brought tourism to a temporary halt, the hiatus gave us an opportunity to find temporary living quarters for our girls at an empty hotel less than a mile away from our permanent site. Perfect location and timing.
We moved on Jan. 30, 2021. The 52 girls are settled and enrolled in the local school.
Phase One of our ecoVillage is now underway! We’re building the farm, which includes fencing, gates, a storeroom, and a barn for six cows and many chickens. This will take three to five months. Then on to the rest!
We couldn’t do this without you, our supporters. I am overwhelmed by the positive response we’ve received.
Help give our Maasai girls the “fishing rod” that will sustain them – and their community – for life.
Thank you for your confidence. Keep spreading the word!
— MGRC Town Hall – March 20, 2021 – 12pm – 1:30pm EST We will be discussing the ecoVillage masterplan, ecoFarm, and sustainable projects. Everyone is welcome to attend. ➡️ Save to Calendar.
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An entrepreneurial approach transforming African aid
[…] Rescue Center (MGRC) in Tanzania is putting that proverb into action, but with an addition. Beyond teaching its students to “fish,” it’s providing them with a “fishing pole”; the tools, skills and environment to become […]