Understand the Issues

Every day, Maasai girls are forced into Female Genital Mutilation (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.   Tradition In 2014 the Kenyan government banned early marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). However, the traditional Maasai persist with their traditions of over 400 years and continue to allow early marriage and FGM. Maasai girls are forced to undergo FGM as their rite of passage into womanhood and are then married off against their will, while they are still children, to husbands that are typically much older than themselves. Not upholding these traditions can bring much social pressure and dishonor upon families. With your help, we are working on two fronts and driving a real change in these traditional beliefs and practices. We sponsor Maasai boys into quality boarding schools that give them a good education and help them understand the consequences of FGM and early marriage....
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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 the Maasai, 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, the Maasai 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 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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Safe House

Extreme poverty, tradition and gender bias weigh heavily on Maasai families, and heavier still on Maasai girls. Girls are required to undergo FGM and most are forced into early marriage to a much older man who already has many wives. As women, they are responsible for building and repairing dung huts (their houses), fetching firewood and water, milking animals, raising children and cooking for male family members. 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.   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...
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Academy for Women’s and Girls’ Rights

Maasai women and girls have a hard life. They are responsible for building and repairing dung huts (their houses), fetching firewood and water, milking animals, raising children and cooking for male family members. Girls are required to undergo FGM and most are forced into early marriage to a much older man who already has many wives.   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. FGM is a rite of passage that marks a Maasai girl’s transition to womanhood and her readiness to marry, regardless of age. The culture of FGM and early marriage is so ingrained in the Maasai that it leaves little room for external influence and makes it difficult to introduce and accomplish social change. Unless women and girls...
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Sponsoring Children’s Education

An education is often a luxury that families can not afford 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.   Being sponsored to a boarding school can save a Maasai...
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Vision and Mission

  Our Vision A world in which every Maasai child has the freedom and opportunity to create a better future for themselves.   Our Mission To save the lives of poor, marginalized Maasai children in Amboseli, Kenya, by putting an end to FGM and early marriage and providing the children with the education, resources and freedom to make a better future for themselves....
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Our Work

Coins for Change has five donation-based focus areas, all of which address the key issues identified with our Maasai Advisory Board. Sponsoring Children’s Education. Being sponsored into a quality boarding school helps protect Maasai girls from forced FGM and early marriage, and provides them with three meals a day and a good education. These girls tend to marry later in life and foster healthier and more prosperous conditions for their families and communities. Read more. Alleviating poverty. In 2009, Kenya had a severe drought that killed 90% of the Maasai’s livestock. Most Amboseli Maasai now live on 35c a day. Donating a goat to a family gives them a sustainable source of nutrition and income, as the goat’s milk can be consumed or exchanged for other much-needed items. Read more.   Building a Safe House. When Maasai girls and women are endangered in Amboseli, Kenya, they run to Chief Mary Kahingo. The Safe House is being built next to Chief Mary’s home and will protect the women and girls until the courts...
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About Us

Coins for Change 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.     Real Lives. Real Impact. Real Change. 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. We sponsor Maasai boys and girls into quality boarding schools where...
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