Coins for Change is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization whose mission it is to save the lives and futures of poor, marginalized Maasai children in the Amboseli region of Kenya, by putting an end to female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage and providing the children with the education, resources and freedom to make a better future for themselves.
Our main emphasis is on protecting Maasai girls who are being forced into early marriage and FGM. Focusing solely on this issue, however, helps a child in the short run, but does nothing to address the underlying causes of the issue. The current reality is a vicious cycle that perpetuates itself generation after generation because of tradition, perceived gender roles and poverty.
In order to make a real impact and drive real change, therefore, Coins for Change focuses on projects that address the issue of FGM and early marriage as well as its root causes. Join us today! Together we can make a real difference.
The Maasai maintain a traditional pastoral lifestyle, depending on their livestock for nutrition and as a source of income to help pay for expenses such as their children’s education. The severe drought of 2009 killed 90% of their livestock, and there are now many children who cannot attend school because their parents just don’t have the money. Most Amboseli Maasai live on 35c a day.
State supported schools do exist, but in Amboseli, Kenya they are usually low performing schools with class sizes of around 60 to 80 students, very few books and no computers. Quality boarding schools, on the other hand, provide children with a good education, giving them the knowledge and skills to foster more prosperous futures for themselves, their families and their communities. But at an annual cost of $500, they are out of reach for most Maasai families.
With the generosity of its donors, Coins for Change has sponsored 48 boys and girls to quality boarding schools.
“Let me promise Coins for Change team that the seed they have sowed will grow soon and transform the society.” – A sponsored Maasai student
90% of the Maasai people’s livestock were killed by starvation in 2009 when a severe drought hit the Amboseli region of Kenya.
The Maasai maintain a traditional pastoral lifestyle, depending on their livestock for nutrition and source of income. Milk, in fact, is their most important source of nutrition, as their staple diet consists of milk and maize. Because of their reduced livestock, most Maasai now live on 35c a day and families and children are almost always hungry. Some children eat only one meal a day, and most just two meals a day.
In 2009, Coins for Change identified a new breed of goat, the Galla goat, that produces 4 cups of milk per day, which is 4x as much milk as the traditional East African goat. Over 1,000 goats have now been donated to Maasai families and villages through Coins for Change, but the Maasai tribe is spread out over a very large area and there are still many families in need.
When Maasai girls and women in the Amboseli region of Kenya feel endangered, they go to Chief Mary Kahingo. They stay with her until the courts or Chiefs are able to alleviate the danger, allowing them to return to their home in safety. Given the number of women and girls who come seeking her help and protection, however, Chief Mary has run out of space at home to accommodate them all.
To enable Chief Mary to continue taking in girls and women in need, Coins for Change is building a Safe House next to Chief Mary’s home. The Safe House will house these women and girls and provide them with a safe harbor until the dangers they face have been mitigated and they can safely return to their homes.
In 2014, Kenya passed a Marriage Law that forbids girls being married before they are 18 years old. FGM is also now illegal in Kenya. Many male Maasai chiefs, however, have refused to stop these traditional practices and have not informed women and girls about the new laws protecting their rights. Unless women and girls are informed about the new laws by their Maasai chiefs, they are unlikely to learn about their rights. Maasai villages are spread out over too large an area, and most speak only Maa, a language that has no written form.
In order to acquaint Maasai women and girls with the Kenyan laws that ban early marriage and FGM, and teach them accepted alternative non-FGM rite of passage ceremonies, Coins for Change is building an Academy for Women’s and Girls’ Rights. The academy will also train Maasai women and girls as peer educators and change agents in the community.
Many women and girls in Africa are marginalized and have little control over their destiny. They have little influence or power over issues that directly concern them. This is particularly true of the Maasai women and girls.
To change this, Coins for Change is building a training center where women can learn new and necessary skills, allowing them to be more in control of their own destiny. The Women’s Center will have spaces for beadwork, sewing and leatherwork. It will teach women life skills such as basic literacy, how to market their handcrafted items, how to protect their families from infectious diseases, and how to stop gender discrimination. It will also have a safe house, a women’s medical clinic and a birthing center.