The Maa Trust Youth Programme was developed to address to the pressing issues facing children (8-18) and youth (18-35) in the region.
Some children are never given the opportunity to go to school, and many of those in school drop out before reaching the end of secondary school – especially girls. Child marriage, child pregnancy, female genital mutilation and child labour are major factors causing drop outs. The two phases of the children’s programme is keeping children in school, and improving the quality of education in the Maasai Mara.
Older youth between the age of 18 to 35 largely lack land ownership which, in a pastoral community, results in an identity crisis. Alcohol, drugs and gambling have become worrying trends amongst youth in the Maasai Mara. The Maa Trust has identified that employment is a powerful tool to give the youth a renewed direction in life. This will be undertaken through three initiatives:
Youth social enterprises
To have an impact oriented focus, TMT’s Youth programme are undertaking a baseline survey in the communities and schools in which we work, that will help us focus on the most needy area and also avoid any project duplication.
TMT YOUTH TEAM
In 2018, The Maa Trust’s Youth Programme expanded to an integrated team of five members, each with diverse and complementary skills that will help meet the vision of the Youth Programme. Agnes Seleyian founder of MURUA, an organization that focuses to have a zero FGM/FGC community through training, advocating and sourcing resources to ensure these girls remain in school. Seleyian has joined The Maa Trust as Female Youth Coordinator working on our End FGM Program, school outreach program and youth enterprise. She has a Diploma in Community Development and Social Work with 11 years’ experience in community development, she has a special interest in child protection, prevention of gender based violence, female genital mutilation, child marriage, sexual health education and menstrual hygiene management.
Sitatian Isen Kipetu, is a co-founder of Maasai Action for Change, based in Olkinyei. She has a Diploma in Community Development and has a special interest in community empowerment. Isen has joined The Maa Trust as Female Empowerment Officer with the responsibility of Monitoring and Evaluating Maa Trust’s work with women and undertaking capacity building through workshops.
Abigael Simaloi has a professional background in agronomy, and was an intern with The Maa Trust in 2017. In her new role she will support Seleyian in school-based education, oversee the development of social enterprises and coordinate communications.
The three ladies will work with Ntimama Maatany, who will continue to coordinate our scholarship programme and Stephen Muntet the Youth Coordinator who will focus on the 18-35 programmes.
1. Keeping the children in school
Although it varies greatly geographically across the Mara, in some communities, 82% of young girls are still undergoing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). We will shortly be undertaking baseline studies to identify hotspots where we can focus our efforts. We are planning several activities to reduce this number. We will carry out Education Capacity Trainings in 10 schools based on the baseline survey, the themes we will major in include FGM, reproductive health and personal leadership. To end FGM we have to work within the community, where it is mostly undertaken from, we are in a process to train 10 community members who will act as FGM ambassadors, their duty is to use amicable ways to save a girl being forced to undergo FGM or early marriage, they will also be our source of information to reach and help these girls. They will work in the community therefore they will get firsthand information of any of the cases. To train our ambassadors we will be partnering with AMREF, Anti FGM Board, SAFE Maa and The Girl Generation.
At the end of the year for the first time we are preparing to hold a five-day Alternative Rite of Passage ceremony for 50 girls completing their primary education. The girls will be trained on Child Rights, Reproduction Health, Self-leadership, Home Making, Community Service (Giving Back) and Leadership Skills to empower this young girls to be our FGM Ambassadors in their communities. On the fifth and last day their parent will be welcomed to celebrate their daughters as they receive their certificates and welcome them to adulthood, this activities is to replace the need of circumcision as a rite of passage to adulthood
On 24th of March the Maa Trust staff received training on Female Genital Mutilation by two of their colleagues, Ntimama and Seleyian, who attended an FGC training early March held by SAFE Maa.
2. Improving the quality of education
When dropout issues are solved we foreseeing a high school enrolment in the Mara, we would therefore require to ensure a quality education for all the children. Our approach will include training teachers in ICT, where possible addressing infrastructure needs in schools such as classrooms, dormitories, teachers houses, toilets and rainwater harvesting. Access to learning equipment, and lobbying with the county government and ministry of education to get trained teachers in the schools in the Mara will also be important elements.
OLDER YOUTH PROGRAM
Maa Bricks is the first youth social enterprise, targeting youth who may not have had the opportunity to complete their schooling. The goal is to provide job opportunity for young people which is not dependent upon academic qualifications. 37 young men have recently completed their one month training course in the production of Maa Bricks. This will be the subject of another news post shortly.
We have identified a number of enterprises that could be viable in the Mara. We are encouraging youth to become entrepreneurs and will support them to develop their business idea into a workable proposal. These proposals will then be considered by the TMT board and the winning individuals / groups will be given some start up capital to launch their business idea which will then be returned over the first year. The goal is to help youth become job creators and not job seekers.
A cheap way for employers and employees to connect is through social media. We have created a Facebook page ‘Employment in the Mara’ where our team posts opportunities such as jobs, scholarships, schools and trainings opportunities to disseminate information widely. Consequently, we now have 513 youth that have ‘liked’ and ‘follow’ our Facebook page. We continue to keep page active by posting on it at least twice a week.
As The Maa Trust Youth Department, we are hoping that each activity that we are carrying out today will go a long way to plant a lasting smile for a young girl and boy in the Mara Community, that will ensure a better generation in the coming years.