In my last post, I mentioned traveling to Kenya as a kind of homage to all the great runners who have come from that region. Not only did I get to see some iconic wildlife up close and personal, but I supported girls’ education by participating in the Amazing Maasai Marathon (http://www.marathontours.com/races/amazing-maasai-marathon-333
The Maasai tribe is one of 42 tribes in Kenya. They are semi-nomadic herders; if the grazing gives out, they have to migrate (complicating the kids’ education). Since Kenya requires school fees (“Everything in Kenya costs”), boys are given first priority for education. The Amazing Girls project (http://www.amazinggirls.org) was organized to change that. It has two goals — providing scholarships to educate Maasai girls, and build an endowment to continue this work indefinitely. The payoffs can be huge — an education means later marriage and significant health benefits for all of these amazing young ladies who take advantage of the program.
The project supports three schools — two are mixed (coed), and one is all girls. The school we visited was Kimanjo, a high school with 35 girls on scholarship. (There is a primary school in the area that we didn’t visit.) It’s pretty basic — solar panels for power and no running water. There are two academic buildings, a girls’ dorm (the boys “trek” to school), a multipurpose building, a small office, a house, and an outhouse. Textbooks are old. The library has no books (“books are on the way”).
As part of the trip, I also got to visit a Maasai settlement in southern Kenya to see how the tribe still lives. (It was a bit of a shock to realize you were no longer staring at a herd of zebras but a flock of goats.) They did charge a fee of $25, which they said went to support their school system. For that, we got a cultural show (including dancing with them), a tour of the compound, a fire-making demonstration, and a look at their mud-and-dung houses. How much of their culture is still authentic? They were very adept at using my camera to video me while I danced (sometime when I’m in a good mood I might show it to you), and the souvenirs they offered for sale looked very polished and professionally made, like other locations we saw. They even said their colorful cloth now comes from “a brother in Nairobi.” But it was still an enlightening experience to see.
If any of this interests you, the website does accept donations. For some reason, photos are not uploading here, but there is a Facebook page devoted to the trip — “Kenya Marathon Tours 2017”.