How Emusoi Centre Got Started?
Emusoi Centre was founded in 1999 in Arusha, Tanzania. It was the vision of Mary Vertucci, a Maryknoll Sister, who has lived and taught in Tanzania for more than 35 years, to provide secondary education to young Maasai women. With dedicated Tanzanian Staff, we started to help these girls get into Day Secondary Schools and provide a place for them to live. We went to villages to look for girls to be part of the project. When the word spread to the different villages, we were able to get 12 young women but it was hard to convince parents, especially the fathers to allow their daughters to continue to secondary school.
Mary recalled, “A girl is looked as an asset to the family since she will be married off and in trade for her the family will get wealth. If the father will allow the girl to go to school, he will be giving up the possibility of getting that wealth immediately.”
We were able to find a house in Arusha town where the girls could live and study but it would also be a place for a support of each other. They could help each other in this transition from a very traditional life to a school life in a more modern world.
“We hope that Emusoi Centre will be a place where young Maasai women can come, they can discover their own worth, they become aware of the value of education for themselves but not only for themselves but for the whole Maasai community and really for the whole country of Tanzania,” said Mary.
From April 1999 until the end of October 2004, our center was based in a rented house in Arusha Town. A permanent place was built in 2004 in Olasiti, on the outskirts of Arusha municipality. The staff and students moved into the new premises at the end of October 2004. With these new facilities, Emusoi Centre entered into the second phase of its existence. With the building of the Centre, the next phase will involve registering the Centre as a Trust, organizational development and setting up the Center as an independent entity to ensure its continuity.
Why It Got Started?
Sr. Mary hopes that eventually the young women who were supported by the Centre will be able to run it when they finish their education. Currently, there are three former Emusoi graduates working at the Centre: the Assistant Director, the Social Worker and an Office Staff. They have become role models to the young women who are just about to start their journey with the Centre.
Now, the Center has evolved from the original concept of providing a hostel for Maasai girls who attend day secondary school to one, which is more all-embracing. The Center now provides a transitional space for young women coming from traditional life-styles. Most of the girls belong to the pastoralist/hunter-gatherers’ communities namely the Maasai, the Barbaig, Tatoga, Hadzabe, Taturu and Ndorobo. They are prepared academically, socially and psychologically to join the multicultural/multi-tribal environment of secondary school. The Center supports and assists them as they progress from secondary school, vocational training, and diploma/certificate courses to university education.