The Maasai Education Foundation (Foundation) was formed in November 2016. The Foundation provides charitable support for the education of the Maasai people in the Arusha region of The United Republic of Tanzania (Tanzania), the mastery of the English language by Maasai children and adults, and educational exchange opportunities between Tanzania and the United States. In addition, the Foundation will educate the public about its work. The approved Foundation bylaws stipulate that the Foundation will devote at least 90% of donations to program expenses directly benefiting Maasai education and that all Foundation board members and others will be unpaid volunteers.
In June 2016, a group of 11 individuals from Virginia traveled to the Arusha region of the Republic of Tanzania for a 10-day wildlife safari. During the safari, a child in the group befriended a Maasai girl (Maria) near Lake Natron. Maria spent almost 24 hours with the group and a bond was established. After returning to the states, members of the group decided to see if they could sponsor Maria’s education. The group did not have any contact information for Maria, only a picture and the approximate location of her village. After numerous emails and phone calls, we established contact with Ms. Martha Mereso Sengeruan, the Executive Director of the Engaruka Community Initiative Organization (ENCO) NGO. Martha traveled to Maria’s village and obtained permission from Maria’s parents and the village leaders to take Maria to Arusha, where she was enrolled as a first grader in the Arusha Meru International School. Two members of the group, traveled back to Tanzania in August 2016 to ensure that arrangements for Maria were legitimate and to pay her school bills for the year. During this trip, they met Maria’s parents and Maasai leaders in four area villages and learned of their struggles to educate their children. The villagers explained that their main problems were that many villages did not have schools and that existing primary schools were taught in Maasai and Swahili, which did not prepare their children for the secondary school (grades 8 to 11) entrance examinations. The problem is that the secondary school entrance examination is in English, and their children do not learn enough English to pass the exam. Martha Mereso Sengeruan (Martha) then shared her dream of establishing an English language-based school in the area that would offer boarding facilities for students from remote villages (within 40 km of Engaruka). After many discussions with Martha, they returned to the states and discussed Maria’s progress and Martha’s vision for the “Engaruka English Medium School” with other members of the original safari group and the group decided to establish the Maasai Education Foundation to support students like Maria and Martha’s vision for the Engaruka English Medium School. The group members also identified another needy Maasai student from the area and provided him with a scholarship to pursue his university degree.
Initial Planning and Organization
During October and November of 2016, a Foundation organizing group began developing draft bylaws; vision and mission statements; organizational objectives; policies pertaining to Foundation Conflicts of Interest, Whistleblowing, and Donor Privacy; and an action plan to accomplish the Foundation’s mission and objectives. In November, the group applied for and received an IRS EIN and Articles of Incorporation from the State of Virginia. On November 21, 2016, the organizing group met, organized a Board of Directors, approved Foundation bylaws and policies, elected officers, formed key committees, and instructed Dr. Dillaha to apply for 501(c)3 status via IRS Form 1023. The Foundation has not developed a strategic plan but plans to do so in 2017.
The Maasai Education Foundation (MEF) will engage in the following activities in support of its three mission objectives:
- Support the education of the Maasai people in the Arusha region of The United Republic of Tanzania (Tanzania).
- Assist the Engaruka Community Initiative Organization (ENGARUKA) in developing architectural and operating plans for the Engaruka English Medium School (EEMPS), which will be constructed in phases over 8 years.
- Assist ENGARUKA in raising funds for the EEMPS construction and operation.
- Raise funds to support the construction and operation of the EEMPS.
- Recruit US citizen volunteers assist in the construction of the EEMPS and the design of its curriculum.
- Create a US citizen volunteer program to teach English and other subjects at EEMPS.
- Provide scholarships for needy Maasai students, particularly girls, from the Engaruka area to enable them to attend pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools and universities.
- Establish partnerships with other organizations, such as the Virginia Tech student chapter of Service without Borders to support EEMPS.
- Support mastery of the English language by Maasai children and adults.
- Provide financial support for the English language program at EEMPS
- Recruit US citizen volunteers to teach English to students at EEMPS and adults in the area.
III. Provide educational exchange opportunities between Tanzania and the United States.
- Provide opportunities for needy Maasai students to visit and study in the US.
- Provide opportunities for volunteer US student groups to work and teach at EEMPS.
In addition, the Foundation will educate the public about the work of the Foundation to raise funds and recruit volunteers to support the work of the foundation. Educational activities will include:
- Create and maintain the following to publicize the activities of the Foundation:
- Foundation website with donation links
- Foundation Facebook page with donation links
- Quarterly Foundation newsletter
- System matching scholarship donors with recipients and monthly reports on recipients to donors.
- Annual Foundation report
- Give presentations on the work of the Foundation to potentially interested groups.
III. Produce videos and news articles to publicize the work of the foundation.
- Organize Tanzania wildlife safaris, which include a day at EEMPS, Engaruka and surrounding villages, to introduce potential donors and volunteers to the activities of the Foundation and EEMPS.
Timeline of Planned Activities
The initial focus of the Foundation is the design, construction and operation of the Engaruka English Medium Primary School in Engaruka, Arusha, Tanzania. The table below illustrates the planned construction of the school by year. As shown in the table, the school opened in February 2018 and with its 1st pre-school class. Each year, the students will move on to the next grade requiring the addition of an additional class until there are eight grades in 2025. The construction schedule is subject to the availability of funds.