Understand the Issues

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) violates a girl's human rights It also breaks Kenyan law. Female genital mutilation (FGM) has been illegal for girls under 18 in Kenya since 2002, when the Children’s Act came into force, and for everyone since 2011, when the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2011 came into force. Yet almost 90% of Maasai girls undergo female genital mutilation (FGM). Every day, Maasai girls are forced into FGM and early marriage. It is a heartbreaking reality, a vicious cycle that perpetuates itself generation after generation because of extreme poverty, tradition and perceived gender roles that severely limit the Maasai girl's likelihood of getting an education. Rites of Passage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) The Maasai rite of passage ceremony for girls is traditionally a joyful event in which the entire community comes together to celebrate their passage from childhood to adulthood. It is a cultural practice, not a religious practice. There is revelry and feasting, dancing and singing. There is also,...
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Get to know the Maasai

If the reality of the Maasai people seems distant to you, you’re not alone. Most people outside of Africa are unaware of them, their customs and traditions, and the challenges they face. The chances of your having met a Maasai are rather slim as well, unless of course you’ve travelled to Kenya or northern Tanzania, areas to which they are indigenous. However distant, they share many characteristics with us. They are resilient and hard working, they have strong beliefs, values and traditions, and they have a long history with periods of prosperity and others of accentuated hardship. They are warm, and welcoming, and curious about the world abroad.   The Maasai Tradition The Maasai culture is steeped in tradition, dating back for many centuries. Strongly patriarchal in nature, the men are responsible for the safety of the village, developing and improving the community’s cattle stock through trades and bartering, and making all relevant political decisions. Women are responsible for all matters regarding the home,...
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Women’s Center

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 Women's Center. The Women’s Center will be a training center to learn new and necessary skills, allowing women to be more in control of their own destiny. It 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.To ensure that Maasai women and girls feel at ease in the Women’s Center, local Kenyan architect Daniel Mayabi has designed it to resemble and have the features of a Maasai Boma (village). The design can...
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Safe House

Safe houses provide Maasai girls and child brides with a shelter from danger Almost 90% of Maasai girls undergo female genital mutilation (FGM). Every day, Maasai girls are forced into FGM and early marriage. It is a heartbreaking reality, a vicious cycle that perpetuates itself generation after generation because of tradition, perceived gender roles and poverty. As child brides, these girls and women are also much more likely to suffer from physical or sexual abuse by their husbands. Husbands they did not choose for themselves. Too often, girls run away from their homes when they are in imminent risk of forced FGM or early marriage, and child brides run away from their husbands because of physical or sexual abuse at home. When Maasai girls and women in the Amboseli region of Kenya feel endangered, they go to Chief Mary Kahingo Chief Mary Kahingo is the first and only female Maasai chief in Kenya. Maasai girls look up to her and go to her in...
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Community Workshops

Community workshops bring permanent positive social change through coordination and consensus Widespread and permanent renouncement of female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage comes about through a process of positive social change. Community workshops focus on driving this process. They engage all groups of a community in discussion and debate, and drive the discussion of uncomfortable topics directly related to the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage. They focus on shifting the social norms that sustain the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage, and establishing new social norms. Finally, they enable communities to reach a collective decision to stop these practices, and make a public and explicit commitment to them. At Coins for Change, we believe that solutions led by the community are more likely to be effective and have lasting social impact. Social norms change definitively when a community sees the benefit of changing, and not when they are punished for not doing so. Therein lies the power of...
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