Hearing and vision problems often get in the way of a child’s education

Hearing and vision problems often get in the way of a child’s education

Ear infections and vision problems in Maasai children too often become more severe issues, resulting in hearing or visual impairment, because poverty levels are such that most Maasai families do not have the resources for (or, many times, even the access to) proper medical care.   Meet Shoke. Shoke is 11 years old, and was suffering from vision problems and longstanding untreated ear infections in both ears that had led to severe hearing impairments. Thanks to the generosity of a Coins for Change donor, Shoke has received glasses and has had a successful operation on one of his ears. Because he is now able to see and hear better, he has been able to start catching up in school and his test scores have already shown significant improvement! Unfortunately, Shoke still requires an operation for his other ear. Please help give him the gift of healthy hearing so that he can return to school and get the most out of his education, as he so dearly wants to do! Shoke must go all the way to Nairobi (four hours...
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What are the traditional roles of men and women in Maasai Culture?

What are the traditional roles of men and women in Maasai Culture?

The Maasai are a strongly patriarchal society. A boy's or man's age determines the role he is to play. Every 15 years, a new generation of warriors (called Morans, or Il-moran) is initiated, including all boys 12-25 years old who have reached puberty and who did not join the previous generation of warriors. Becoming a warrior is a matter of honor and responsibility, and boys undergo several rites of passage to achieve it. One such rite of passage is the emorata, a circumcision performed without anesthetic. The boy must endure the operation in silence (as expressions of pain can bring temporary dishonor upon him) and upon completion is considered a junior warrior. The healing process takes three to four months, and the junior warrior wears black clothes and lives in a separate village, called a manyatta, for four to eight months after the ceremony. The manyatta has no circular fence protecting it, emphasizing the role the warrior will play in protecting the community. During this time, junior warriors go through several rites of...
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Binghamton University Run with the Goats

Binghamton University Run with the Goats

For the past five years a group of students at Binghamton University, New York, has been raising money to donate goats to the Maasai through Coins for Change. They organize an annual run called “Running with the Goats”. Participants pay a fee to join the run and have the opportunity to  purchase handcrafted Maasai jewelry at the event. All proceeds go to donating goats to the Maasai!   If you would like to sponsor a similar event at your school or university, please do reach out to us! We can provide you with with information about other fundraising events, and provide you with visuals and information that you can print and use at your own event....
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New Coins for Change website launched!

New Coins for Change website launched!

You asked for a new website that helps you better understand the Maasai, the issues they face, what Coins for Change is doing to alleviate those issues, and the impact that these initiatives are having. Here it is. The new website has been designed to provide you with all of this, as well as providing regular updates on Coins for Change initiatives and allowing you to choose which program you would like to fund. We hope the new website answers all your questions and inspires you to help us in our mission to save the lives of poor, marginalized Maasai children in Amboseli, Kenya!...
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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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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 be seen...
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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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Alleviating poverty

Most Maasai live in extreme poverty, on $0.35 a day. The International Poverty Line, as defined by the World Bank, is at $1.90 per person per day. 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, Maasai families and children are almost always hungry now. 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. 18 Galla goats were purchased in Somalia and brought to the Maasai to see if...
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