When we first came to Maasai Mara to set up a camp here we’d never really given any thought to the extent of community involvement we would have, aside from obviously having guests who would visit the local Maasai village and bring income to the residents. To begin with we were too busy building up the camp to get out and explore our surroundings, after both leaving our paid jobs overlanding through Africa to start a new life together in Kenya we couldn’t afford to sit around! Within 3 months of us moving here the main structures of the camp were up along with our original 3 tents and we were open for business. There was and still is a lot to be done on a daily basis but eventually we made it to our local primary school called Ole Keene in April 2012.
This was a major eye opener for both of us and had a huge impact on our whole focus within the camp. We learned from speaking to the Head Master and teachers that practices such as FGM which we had assumed were very rare and almost a thing of the past are in fact still happening on a daily basis in this area of Kenya. As are illegal underage marriages and incidences of rape in girls as young as 10 in which they then begin having their own children as soon as their bodies allow. We gave this a lot of thought and we feel strongly that the main way to reduce these practices from happening is only through education of the younger generation, to just tell the Maasai people they need to stop these practices which form a main part of their culture will only cause resentment and they will still practise them but in secret and at night, this in turn puts the children involved at a higher risk if there are medical complications.
What happened next……
From that day on we have gradually been connected with students from desperately poor family backgrounds who without financial assistance would be unable to continue with their schooling. This means especially for girls their fate is to be married off for dowry payment at a very young age, sometimes just 11 or 12 years and to spend their life time having children, fetching water and firewood, building homes and herding livestock. Some of those students we have helped including Anthony Sadera, Benard Narok and Nazra have all now completed High School, Bernard is currently researching further college courses as his sponsor is willing to assist him also into further education. We also have seven students in school this year who you can read about below and there is always a waiting list of kids who still require assistance for anyone who is interetsed in helping. At the moment one off donations, regular payments and full sponsorship can all make a difference to the various cases we encounter.
This year we have four sponsored students in high school and three in primary school which is a huge achievement for such a small camp as us! Below you can learn more about all of them;
Ronald Ngetich - Ronald is now in his second year of Kaplong Boys High School. After his mother died when he was in primary school he lost hope of being able to go to high school but our taxi driver Peter asked us if we might be able to help as he is such a bright boy. Ronald is partially sponsored by couple Brook & Will from the UK and his funds are topped up by sales profits from our camp gift shop.
Sarah Koshal - Sarah is in Class 6 at Siana Boarding Primary School this year. She was rescued from an early marriage aged 12 after her father arranged her dowry payment and she ran away to Ole Keene Primary School for help. Her father was initially arrested however now he is very happy she is sponsored and we chose for her safely to transfer her to a boarding school a bit further from home. She is currently fully sponsored by Brigitte, a Rotel overland passenger who lives in Austria.
Edward Lempoyio – From Ole Keene, Edward is 18yrs old and in Class 8 at Ole Keene Primary School. He made the decision to try and raise school fees for himself after his family didn’t give him any support and sent him out to find work. He is now in his final year of primary school after which we hope to get him enrolled in a technical college and sponsor him through driving school. Edward lives on our camp in school holidays where he helps out and this year he is sponsored by donations collected through Africa With Grace.
Ann Lemurt - One of our previous guests Lindsey, a teacher, has visited three times and volunteered in Ole Keene Primary School for several weeks. She followed up on how Ann was getting on after completing primary school in 2016 and whether she had an interest to go to High School. Ann was amongst the first few students to sit KCPEs at Ole Keene at the end of 2015 as the school have only just done them for the first time. We sought Ann out and found she had scored over 300 marks in her exams which was a great achievement coming from a small local understaffed school like Ole Keene. She later brought us an acceptance letter from a good private school in Gilgil near Nakuru and Lindsey immediately set about raising the first years fees required which she achieved in just 4 days. Ann is now in her second year in Springs High School and is adapting to life outside of Maasai Mara.
Susana Kasoe – Susana completed Sekenani Primary School in 2014 with very promising marks. She is now in Form 3 at St Mary’s Girls High School in Narok and is fully sponsored for all 4 years at High School by Pauline from Australia.
Sylvia Lesaloi – Sylvia completed Sekenani Primary School in 2014 with very promising marks. She is now in Form 3 at St Mary’s Girls High School in Narok and is partially sponsored by Dakota from Hawaii and Julie & Bernie, a couple from Australia who between them have covered her fees for the whole of 2016 and 2017.
Pianto Tanin – Pianto was brought to our attention in 2016, she was enrolled in Kedowa Special Primary School for the deaf however after the death of her father her family were unable to afford to pay her school fees. Pianto was born deaf but is very bright and has visited our camp in her holidays and has no problems interacting with a wide variety of people. Her school fees are now fully covered by the Cull family from England.