Six young Maasai women in Kenya and Tanzania who couldn’t afford a formal education have completed secondary school and have entered college, thanks to the East African Young Women’s Leadership Initiative, a joint project of New York-based non-profit organizations Brighter Green and Tribal Link, in partnership with three indigenous non-governmental organizations Parakuiyo Pastoralists Indigenous Community Development Organization (PAICODEO) in Tanzania, and Simba Maasai Outreach Organization (SIMOO) and the Indigenous Information Network (IIN) in Kenya.

Members of the Masaai tribe are marginalized in East Africa; only one out of a thousand Maasai children goes on to a secondary education after primary school, and most of them are boys. Girls marry early and begin bearing children. The Initiative, which sends the girls to boarding schools pays all their school fees and living expenses and offers intensive mentoring, aims to develop the girls’ skills, knowledge, environmental awareness, and confidence so that as adult women they will be successful leaders in their communities and effective advocates for indigenous peoples and the environment at the international level. Achieving this is particularly urgent because climate change and the effects of globalization are felt more intensely by indigenous communities around the world. In order for the girls to enter the program, their families had to pledge to refrain from subjecting them to female genital mutilation or arranging an early marriage.

The cost of support is $2,000, a year for each girl. You can donate by clicking here.
Why this initiative?

  • Most Maasai girls don’t receive the benefits of formal education. Less than 1% complete secondary school, or a higher level of education.
  • Across the developing world, schooling to a higher grade is often the crucial factor in changing the course of an individual’s life, opening up new opportunities and avenues for action otherwise unavailable.
  • The program’s intent is to invest deeply in a small number of girls with significant potential but who are trapped by their families’ poverty.
  • While the entry point is education—scholarships to support schooling—the girls in the program will also participate in rights training sessions, experiential learning visits, and receive mentoring from indigenous leaders.

    Kenyan participants in February, 2015.

    Kenyan participants in February, 2015.

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