Mando Maasai – for the empowerment of Maasai communities

by Denise Nanni and Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik. In the following our interview with Eliza of the organization Mando Maasai, founded by Michael Ole Sayo to empower Maasai communities. 

How was MANDO founded?
MANDO began in 2007 when Michael Ole Sayo, a young man from the Maasai communities MANDO serves, worked with village elders and families to organise to help solve problems these people were facing. In essence, Michael was “giving back” to those who sold goats and cows so he could get an education. The basic goal is to empower the Maasai people through education, health and economic development and to integrate the Maasai way of life with the modern world, while conserving and celebrating Maasai cultural heritage. They envision literate communities that are not so poverty prone. MANDO’s Board of Trustees decides strategic direction, delivers on objectives and ensures the organization is solvent, well-run and upholds its values.

What are the main issues regarding Maasai community?
The nomadic, pastoral Maasai people face such a severe drought that they are forced to become more agriculturally based. This means reliable water sources must be close to evolving communities. At the same time, MANDO is helping with this adjustment while overcoming root causes of poverty, introduce sustainable methods of subsistence, improve education and gender equality.

What are the main activities you carry out to promote women’s empowerment?

-discouraging the practice of female genital mutilation and early marriage

-providing sponsorships for keeping girls in school from primary to higher education as well as improving school facilities and practices
-building and running a safe house for girls threatened by FGM so they can continue their education
-informing about birth control
-providing micro-loans for women to run entrepreneurial income generating businesses
training women farmers
 How do you promote children education within Maasai community?
   •    sponsoring children living in poverty to attend school, especially ambitious girls willing to give back to their communities; they are chosen on bases of need and merit
    •    providing lunches at schools where children would otherwise have to go hungry
    •    constructing schools and classrooms in villages, repairing existing schools with paint walls, windows, floors, desks and chalkboards
    •    providing books and school supplies
    •    increasing access to learning opportunities – youth camp, football clubs
    •    establishing school management committees, supporting teachers, instructional sessions for parents

Do you cooperate with local authorities and institutions? If yes, how?

We cooperate with all local, regional and country-wide agencies:
    •    working with head teachers, school boards and officials to adhere to requirements and try to obtain improvements in our schools
    •    obtaining all permits needed to build, run and maintain micro-grids for electricity and drill badly needed wells