30 Jul A New Way Forward: Empowering girls with education — brings change to the Maasai communities

In the Maasai region of Kenya, home to semi-nomadic people whose livelihood depends on the size and health of their cattle herds, there’s been a change.  And the Maasai people are very excited.

With the help of the Unstoppable Foundation, Oleleshwa All Girls Secondary School now provides education to young Maasai girls who have traditionally not been allowed to attend school past the 8th grade, instead spent their lives working from sun-up to sundown trying to scrape together enough food and water just to keep their families alive.

As this post is published, we’ve just returned from our annual trip to Kenya, where we spent two weeks visiting the 9 communities and 12 projects we are supporting, including the Oleleshwa Secondary School for Girls in the Rift Valley of the Maasai Mara.  It was amazing to talk to the girls there who are becoming change agents for their villages, their communities and their nation.  Being allowed to attend school after the age of 13 is a significant change for many of the girls and their families, and they were all excited to share with us their dreams and ideas, about the future.

You see in the past 10 years, there has been a fundamental change in the way the Maasai percieve girls’ education. The education of girls and young women is now recognized as an imperative for the economic and social advancement of their society as a whole, and for many of the girls attending Oleleshwa they are the first generation to benefit from this new global initiative–and from what we witnessed, they are definitely up for the task!

“There are several challenges in my community,” said Faith, a Form 3, or eleventh grader, at the school.  “Many innocent children have been suffering from malnutrition.  I would like to put more effort into my academics so that in the future I can become a civil engineer and construct good transport systems to have adequate water to be used in irrigating and growing our crops.”  She goes back to her village now and plants avocado trees at her primary school, giving children there access to a delicious and nutritious food.

Another student named Grace said, “I hope that in the future my community will be the best known for growing fruits, and (I) hope to see markets where our fruits are sold internationally, to help us earn a greater living.”

In talking to, and listening to the girls at Oleleshwa we too felt inspired and excited about their future.  By combining modern education with traditional practices these young women have the potential to end extreme poverty in the Maasai, and Oleleshwa Secondary School for girls is on the leading edge of delivering the type of advanced education to girls so they can become leaders in their villages and communities.

Unstoppable-Oleleshwa campusWith Unstoppable’s support from our 2013 Gala, construction of Oleleshwa’s new secondary school campus is nearly complete, and girls plan to move in January 2014.  For now, the girls of Oleleshwa are using another school campus, Kisaruni so they not to fall behind in their studies while the finishing touches are made to their modern, new school campus.  Within the next four years more than 200 young Maasai women will occupy this stunning campus.

Here we are enjoying a personal guided tour of the Oleleshwa campus, as we completed our time with the girls by planting trees near their dormitory, as symbols of hope and a reminder of the name “oleleshwa”, a tree that is always green!

With love and appreciation,

Cynthia Kersey

Bestselling author, “Unstoppable”
Chief Humanitarian Officer
Unstoppable Foundation