In Memoriam – Mary Ann (Hebenstreit) Sporl

Mary Ann (Hebenstreit) SporlOctober 6, 1943 – July 18, 2021

Mary Ann Sporl passed away peacefully at home surrounded by her husband of 58 years, Robert D. Sporl, and their three children Robert Sporl Jr., Jennifer Sporl and Ellie Sisson.

Mary Ann was born in Canton, Ohio, the only child of William H and Helen K Hebenstreit, and grew up in Southern California- a real California Girl! She met Robert at St. Mary’s College when he was attending Notre Dame. A chance meeting in 1961 was love at first sight. That was the start of a beautiful love story and their many adventures across the country.

Her two biggest passions in life were her family and gardening. She had the greenest thumb of anyone we knew and could rescue a plant from the most dire condition and turn it into a thriving specimen. She spent hours in her garden and was always willing to help a friend select just the right plants for the right light. She found so much joy in the simplicity of a beautiful backyard vegetable or flower garden.

She loved her family so much and her children were her proudest accomplishment.  She had a child-like wonder and excitement about life, was so curious about everything and was a life-long learner.  In fact, at 50, she went back to college and finished her Bachelor’s Degree at University of San Diego. She was eating organic before it was cool. Mary Ann lived her life present to the legacy she was leaving behind. She is survived by her husband, 3 children and 6 grandchildren. Our hearts are broken and she will be greatly missed.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.  Mary Ann was committed to making a difference and supported multiple charities. In lieu of flowers the family is asking for donations to be made to Maasai Education Foundation the PayPal Giving Fund ( or by sending a check payable to the Maasai Education Foundation to 345 Woods Lane, Newport, VA 24128.

Note: In honor of Mary Ann, the Maasai Education Foundation will name one of the wings of our new girl’s dormitory (currently under construction) the Mary Ann Hebenstreit Sporl Memorial Wing.

You Did It!

YOU DID IT! The May Matching Fundraiser raised a total of $51,216.10 including match. $34,000 will go towards constructing two new dormitory wings and $17,216.10 towards child sponsorships. Our goal was $48,000 so we exceeded that by ALMOST 10%! The central hub and first wing of our first dormitory is nearing completion and as soon as that is finished we will start on construction of three additional wings. The 3rd wing is thanks to the generous support of the Crane Family of Columbus, Ohio. There will eventually be 5 wings each housing 24 students, The first dormitory will be our girls dormitory. We hope to complete a second dormitory for boys in 2023.

You can help us complete the girls dorm by clicking on the donate button below.

Help MEF with Amazon Smile

Did you know you can support the Maasai Education Foundation (MEF) with almost every purchase you make on Amazon? Amazon donates 0.5% of most purchases to the charity of your choice that is registered with Amazon. So far, AMAZON has donated $536.77 to MEF and all you have to do is designate MEF as your AMAZON charity. It is easy. Just click on the link, log into your account, designate MEF as your charity and you are ready to go.

Thank you to all that contributed to MEF’s 2020 Giving Tuesday Successful Fundraiser!!!!!

The MEF 2020 Giving Tuesday Matching Fundraiser exceeded expectations thanks to you! Including donations through the PayPal Giving Fund, checks received, pledges and matching funds, we raised $45,284.22, just shy of our $48,000 goal! Thank you to all our generous donors!

With the funds you donated, we have started construction of our 1st dormitory for 124 children. Information about the dormitory is available here.

With our thanks, The MEF Board Members:
Brian Benham (Treasurer), Kerry Brisco, Rebecca Caldwell, Theo Dillaha (Chairperson), Margie Lee, Karen Scalf-Benham, Audrey Spielmann, Randy Stith

MEF #GivingTuesday Matching Fundraiser is 3 Days Away

The Maasai Education Foundation’s annual MEF #GivingTuesday Matching Fundraiser starts at 8am Tuesday and runs from Dec. 1-13, 2020

This is MEF’s biggest fundraiser of the year and Facebook will be matching donations for a few seconds starting at 8:00 AM EST. Other MEF supporters will be matching the first $10,000 in donations not matched by Facebook. Matched funds will be used to complete the Phase I dormitory construction. Last year we raised $43,890 through our 2019 #GivingTuesday fundraiser and this year our goal is $48,000: $26,000 in scholarship funds and $22,000 to complete the Phase I dormitory construction. The $26,000 in scholarship funds is what our generous donors who sponsor children at the school donated in 2020. The cost to sponsor a child in 2021 is the same as last year, $700, and includes tuition, room and board, clothing and medical care for the 11 months the students are at the Engaruka English Medium Primary School. The school serves children from pastoralist families that often do not attend primary school. We currently have 210 children in grades pre-school through 3rd grade and will have pre-school through 4th grade in January with 30 new pre-schoolers. Please consider donating again.

BY CHECK: Send checks payable to the Maasai Education Foundation, 345 Woods Lane, Newport, VA 24128.
BY CREDIT CARD (with no fees):

MEF Matching Summer Fundraiser a HUGE Success – THANK YOU!

MEF’s 1st matching fund drive was successful and greatly exceeded our expectations! A HUGE THANK YOU TO ALL OUR GENEROUS DONORS!!!!! Our goal was to raise $31,000 with $10,000 for child sponsorships and $21,000 to start construction of the Engaruka English Medium Primary School’s first dormitory. We received a total of $15,935 in donations and a $10,120 match for a total of $26,055. Plus, we have additional donations of $10,450 in process for a grand total of $36,505. As a result, we may be able to send a little more to the school to start construction of the dormitory this fall.

2019 Facebook #GivingTuesday Fundraiser Results

Thank you to everyone that supported our #GivingTuesday Fund Drive!!!!!! We raised a total of $23,458 through Facebook for school scholarships and construction and we may receive some additional matching funds from Facebook. We will not know about the matching funds for two or three weeks. We still need to raise about $13,752 to meet our scholarship funds goal. If you can help, it would be greatly appreciated. No gift is too small or to large. You can contribute through our Facebook 2020 Scholarship Fund for EEMPS Students Fundraiser or through one of the other means on our Donate Now pageThankyouGIF.

Thank You Crane Family!


The Crane Family donation will fund the roofs and ceilings for the classroom/library building as well a finishing the floors and walls and electrical and plumbing systems. Pictures of windows and doors just installed in Phase II classroom building are below. Glass window panes installed later.

Now we just need about $18,500 to finish the dining hall/kitchen/ laundry, power house, and guest houses if you have a need to donate.

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EEMPS Updates

My apologies for the lack of updates since Martha and Maria visited in August but a lot has happened.

First our new dining hall/kitchen/laundry is under roof and being used for meetings. We can’t use it completely until we raise $12,000 more to equip the kitchen, plaster walls, purchase and install doors and windows, and finish the floor. Also cannot install the new photovoltaic system donated by Service without Borders until doors and windows are installed for security.

Second, and most importantly, we are ready to start construction on our Phase II classroom/library expansion that is required for us to receive conditional primary school certification and offer 1st grade next year. The Phase II expansion will include 4 classrooms, a library, and toilet/shower room and we need $32,000 for the contractor to start construction. Later, we’ll need an additional $21,000 to completely finish Phase II. Please consider donating to the Phase II classroom expansion through Facebook. If you donate on #GivingTuesday early enough after 8am EST, Facebook will match your donation.


If I understand things correctly from Martha, 41 of 48 our pre-school students will be moving on to first grade. Until we complete the Phase II expansion, 25 1st graders will attend the Tumaini Junior School in Karatu as boarding students and 15 1st graders will be registered at Nashipay Maasai School.

Next year we will have 41 pre-school students: 8 young students from this year that are not ready for 1st grade, 10 students whose families can afford tuition and fees and 23 students needing sponsors. Sponsorship rates for 2019 (students are in school for 11 months) are $900 for boarding students (all girls and the few boys attending Tumaini Junior School in Karatu) and $640/year for day students (boys). Please consider sponsoring one of our 23 new pre-schoolers.