The Safe House, a safe harbor for women and children in danger

The Safe House, a safe harbor for women and children in danger

When Maasai girls and women in the Amboseli region of Kenya feel endangered, they go to Chief Mary Kahingo. Given the number of women and girls who come seeking her help and protection, however, there is insufficient space in Chief Mary's home to accommodate them all. Coins for Change therefore built a Safe House next door to 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. Below are photographs of women and their children in the safe house. There are three women so far and four children whose cases are pending in court, awaiting rulings. Their cases are all similar. All three women have been subjected to domestic violence, been beaten, mistreated and neglected. ...
Read More
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...
Read More

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,...
Read More

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...
Read More

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...
Read More

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...
Read More

Real Impact. Real Change.

With your generous donations, we have been able to touch and protect the lives of many Maasai children, women and families in Amboseli, Kenya. Thank you. We couldn't have achieved this without you! Over 1,000 galla goats have been donated... ... providing families and bomas (Maasai villages) with the means to combat poverty and hunger in a sustainable manner. Read more Six bomas (Maasai villages) have been adopted... ... providing them with the cows and goats necessary to sustain and nourish them, and helping to pay school fees for village children. Read more 48 children have been sponsored into quality boarding schools... ... improving their prospects for the future and protecting the girls from FGM and early marriage. Read more 2 teacher houses have been built and $2,500 provided for school books... ... to the local village school, enabling the school to provide a better quality education for the children. Read more A Safe House has been built... ... providing women and girls in peril with a...
Read More

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...
Read More

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...
Read More