The Need: Breaking the cycle of poverty and oppression
The Maasai culture is strongly patriarchal, with a man’s wealth measured in terms of cattle and children.
Girls are at the bottom of the social hierarchy. In childhood girls as young as 7 or 8 are matched with much older men, with multiple wives, in exchange for livestock. Many girls are forced to undergo the traditional rite of female genital mutilation (FGM) to be considered marriageable, despite the practice being outlawed by the governments of Tanzania and Kenya. These child brides – who suffer lifetimes of health issues and trauma – become little more than breeders for their husbands.
Fewer than 20 percent of Maasai girls enroll in school. Even fewer complete primary school and go on to secondary school or university. But those who become educated are respected by their tribe, which is struggling with how to integrate its centuries-old, semi-nomadic lifestyle into the modern world.
Two-thirds of the population in Tanzania lives in poverty on Maasailand known internationally for spectacular natural resources and game reserves.
The Maasai girls who come to the Maasai Girls Rescue Center are the most at-risk – orphans, runaways or abandoned. They are brought to us by social welfare government officials.
We meet their basic needs with shelter, food, clothing and nurturing adult care. We enroll them in local schools. Then we help them develop personal confidence and occupational skills to reach their full potential.
In turn, these girls grow into self-supporting, independent women who will help lift their communities out of poverty to a sustainable future.
”Study after study has taught us that there is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, lower infant and maternal mortality, improve nutrition and promote health, including the prevention of HIV/AIDS.”
“If you thought laws and policy would positively impact girls’ education in heavily patriarchal Maasai culture in Kenya, then you need to think again. In countries like Kenya, culture and traditions heavily impact girls’ ability to enroll and complete schooling and transition to college. To improve girls’ education we need to engage the custodians of tradition and culture: elders, community and spiritual leaders, elected leaders, youth, and warriors." – Brookings, How girls’ education intersects with Maasai culture in Kenya.
Our philosophy: Lend a hand up, not a hand out.
The need: breaking the cycle of poverty and oppression