1st MEF Fundraiser a Success

Our 1st fundraiser was held Wednesday, April 25 in the home of a supporter, who also sponsored the event catering. We were not sure what to expect since we had never held a fundraiser before. We had posters and a video about our work and our parther Service without Borders also had a poster. We had invited approximately 100 people and about half came. Many of those that could not come sent donations. We raised over $10,000 and donations are still coming in. We now have enough funds to finish construction of the dining hall/laundry, scholarships for 4 additional children, and a start on funding for the $68,000 classroom/library expansion. Our only faux pas was that we were so busy that we forgot to take pictures of the event. Thank you to all our donors!

Video shown at the event (YouTube)

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Service without Borders students talk about work at Engaruka English Medium Primary School

Virginia Tech Service without Borders students talked about their work at the Engaruka English Medium Primary School on the local news last night. They gave an overview of what they did last summer (helped construct 1st classroom building) and what they plan to do this summer (photovoltaic system for dining hall and teach English). Link to the video is:

http://www.wdbj7.com/content/news/Virginia-Tech-students-crowdfunding-to-return-to-Tanzania-to-help-school-kids-480196813.html

Classes start at Engaruka English Medium Primary School

Classes started at the EEMPS on February 12, 2018. Our first pre-school class has 48 students – 25 girls and 23 boys. The girls are all boarding at the school and the boys live with their families or relatives near the school. Eight children were from families with sufficient funds to pay their school fees. We have secured scholarships for an additional 8 students so 32 students still need help with school costs ($840/year for boarding students and $540/year for non-boarding students). If you would like to sponsor a child, please visit our scholarships page to see photos and stories of students needing support.

 

Grand Opening of the Engaruka-TX English Medium Pre-Primary School

On September 17, the Engaruka Community Initiative Organization (ENCO) held the Grand Opening of the Engaruka-TX English Medium Pre-Primary School with representatives from the TX Foundation, which had contributed $70,000 towards the construction of the pre-primary school building. The Tsu Xing meaning ‘kindness walking’ Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation from Taiwan that supports building education facilities. The visiting team included Mr. Jaffe Hsieh, the TX founder; Ms. Liza Lin, the TX President; and Ms Adenike Adeyanju, the TX Regional Coordinator. Local dignitaries and officials as well as community members and students who will attend the school next January when classes start also attended.

IRS Public Charity Status Approved

The Maasai Education Foundation is pleased to announce that we received a letter from the IRS today stating the following:

“We’re pleased to tell you we determined you’re exempt from federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501(c)(3).  Donors can deduct contributions they make to you under IRC Section 170. You’re also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under Section 2055, 2106, or 2522. 

Organizations exempt under IRC Section 501(c)(3)  are further classified as either public charities or private foundations. We determined you’re a public charity under the IRC Section listed at the top of this letter.”

Our public charity status is 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) and the effective date of exemption is November 18, 2016.

With the IRS 501(c)3 public charity designation, we can now collect tax deductible charitable donations. Please bear with us as we investigate alternative ways of accepting online donations. Until we have an online payment system, we would be pleased to accept donations by check payable to the Maasai Education Foundation and mailed to 345 Woods Lane, Newport, VA 24128. Who will be our first donor?

Exciting MEF News

Lots of exciting news!

  • First and foremost, the IRS just informed MEF that we will be approved as a 501(c)3 public charity within the next three weeks (will receive a written notification letter by then). This means that we will be able to receive tax deductible donations directly!
  • Our partner, the Engaruka Community Initiative Organization (ENCO) will be starting construction of the Engaruka-TX English Medium Pre-Primary School within the next couple of weeks. Construction has been delayed a little because Tanzania is in the process of reclassifying Engaruka from a village to a city because of a large soda ash mining operation that will open near Engaruka this year and this has put land titling on hold.
  • To move ahead quickly, ENCO purchased private land for the school that is in Engaruka and has good access to water and electricity. This land looks much better than our previous site because it is on the outskirts of the town rather then 5 km out of town.
  • The Virginia Tech student group, Service without Borders (SWB), will be in Tanzania from May 16 to June 3 to assist in the construction of the school. Daily updates on their activities will be provided on Maasai Education Foundation and Service without Borders Facebook pages when they have internet access. The five SWB students will be advised by MEF board members Brian Benham and Theo Dillaha.

Meet Maria

Eight-year-old Maria was born the village of Engaresero, Ngorongoro, Arusha, Tanzania.  Although Nasikoi is her Maasai name, she was later baptized and named Maria by missionaries.In her short life, she has experienced many challenges because of poverty and lack of education.

Initially, Maria obtained a scholarship to enroll in a private primary boarding school in Loliondo through the efforts of Sister Angelica of Germany. After she started school, she was withdrawn by her father who objected to her education and wanted her at home to work with her mother. Among many tasks assigned to Maria, she began selling the handicrafts her mother produced for tourists. Since selling handicrafts was the family’s main source of income, Maria worked very hard day and night. She would walk from one campsite to another, visit the waterfalls, Lake Natron, and other tourist sites to meet visitors and sell handicrafts. She gained an excellent reputation as one of the best sellers of handicrafts in the area by the age of eight.

Even as a young girl, Maria faced the significant risks of early childhood marriage and female genital mutilation. In fact, she had allegedly already been sold for marriage to an older man by her father for three cows and was to be married in three years.

During the summer of 2016, Maria met Daphne, a 7-year-old from the US, who was traveling with a group of tourists (see photo). Maria and Daphne spent the next 24 hours together and quickly became friends despite the lack of a common language. The rest of the tourist group was also quite taken by Maria.

The small girl had left such an impression on the group that upon their return to the US, they looked into the possibility of supporting Maria’s education. At first, they were met with an emphatic “no” from organizations and individuals in Tanzania.The group was then approached by Martha Olemisiko, who said she would try, and the rest is history.

Martha, with the assistance of her father-in-law (a local Maasai leader) and Luka Lekidi (a college student MEF also supports), tracked Maria down through a photo provided by the group and convinced her family and village to allow her to be educated. When they agreed, Maria moved to Arusha and is now living (essentially as a new daughter) with Martha and her family. The group was so impressed with Martha and her vision for helping other Maasai youth like Maria that they decided to form the Maasai Education Foundation to support Maasai education.

Through Martha’s efforts, Maria enrolled in the Arusha Meru International School in Arusha in preschool (kindergarten) in September 2016.  Because Arusha Meru school is an English language-based school and because Maria did not speak English, she attended school in the mornings and was tutored in English for three hours in the afternoon. Maria did well during her first-semester excelling in math and is quickly learning Swahili and English. Updates on Maria’s progress will be shared at the end of each semester.

Meet Maria, our 1st scholarship recipient

Maria (Nasikoi) Papaa Kingi.

mariadaphne
Maria and Daphne at Lake Natron, June 2016

Maria was born in 2008 in the village of Engaresero, Ngorongoro, Arusha, Tanzania.  Nasikoi is her Maasai name but she was later baptized and named Maria by missionaries. Maria has had a challenging life. Her family is poor and uneducated. Maria was initially very fortunate and obtained a scholarship to enroll in a private primary boarding school in Loliondo through the efforts of Sister Angelica of Germany. After she started school, she was withdrawn by her father who objected to her education and wanted her at home to work with her mother. Among many tasks assigned to Maria, she was very good at selling the handicrafts that her mother produced for tourists. Since selling handicrafts was the family’s main source of income, Maria worked very hard day and night. She would walk from one tourist campsite to another, visit the waterfalls, Lake Natron and other tourist sites to meet tourists and sell handicrafts. She was respected as one of the best sellers of handcrafts in the area by the age of eight.

As an eight-year old Maasai girl, Maria faced the significant risks of early childhood marriage and female genital mutilation. In fact, she had allegedly already been sold for marriage to an older man by her father for three cows and was to be married in three years.

More details on our Scholarship page.

Our Vision and Mission

VISION: The educational, social and economic equality of members of the Maasai ethnic group in Tanzania.

MISSION: To improve the educational, social and economic equality of members of the Maasai ethnic group in Tanzania by enhancing the education of Maasai youth through financial and technical support of rural schools serving Maasai youth and scholarships for individual Maasai youth.

Fundraising Progress

As of December 5th, 2016, we believe that the Engaruka Community is going to receive a grant of $70,000 to $100,000 from the TX Foundation of Taiwan for the first construction phase of the school. This will be confirmed once provided architectural plans are reviewed by the foundation in February 2017.  We will be raising an additional $70,000 to $100,000 to cover costs of the first phases of construction and operations. More details soon .