The Need for Emusoi is two fold, Cultural and Educational. Emusoi addresses the need to help Maasai, Barabaig and Ndorobo girls to continue their education rather than early marriage. Few girls belonging to these communities have a chance to continue their education beyond primary school level.
A report from the Tanzanian Ministry of Education places pastoralist girls as one of the most disadvantaged groups in the country with regard to access to secondary education. Most of them live hundreds of kilometers away from any large town with secondary schools. It is an area that is mostly arid and with wild animals. Primary school education can be under a tree or in one classroom without textbooks so the educational standard is low in these areas.
In their culture, girls are not valued the same as boys therefore they do not get the same attention from their parents or teachers. When a girl marries she’ll go to the homestead of her husband so she is a loss to her father’s homestead. But, girls are viewed, also, as an asset for the family. When girls reach puberty, their fathers arrange marriages for their daughters, and are rewarded with cows for the dowry. Fathers often bribe teachers to fail their daughters or daughters are encouraged to fail. The girls, then, can be taken out of school, circumcised and are ready for marriage. So, when the girl is about 13 yrs old she would be given to her husband, who often is much older than she and she could be the 2nd or 3rd wife. Maasai value cows as a sign of wealth and the bigger the herd the more prestige for the father.
Often, mothers bring their daughters to Emusoi. This is a risk for mothers who are beaten by their husbands for this rebellion. Some girls want to go to school and run away to Emusoi. On the other hand there are fathers who want their daughters to get an education but sometimes only have enough money for their sons.
Women occupy a subordinate position in the authoritative structure of the Maasai culture. They have very little voice in decision making in the family. They have no inheritance and no say in whom they will marry. Without education, these girls will remain in a subordinate position in their communities. Education will give them skills to know their own rights and how to defend them. Emusoi offers a chance for these girls to become educated and return to the community as educated women or professionals who can then work with the community to help bring about change and development for them.
To make this happen, Emusoi provides a place to stay and a year long pre- secondary prep course for Maasai girls to help them further their language and math skills to prepare them for high school. In all cases, the Center facilitates the students to join first year high school and supports them financially when families cannot or will not support them in school. The Center also acts as a link between the schools and the families of the students or the entities who brought the students to the Center. The Center receives the term reports of the students and monitors their progress in school. When problems arise, the Center’s staff communicate with the schools and also try to involve the families when possible.
We see such a change in these students. When they first come to us, they are so shy, unsure of themselves, afraid to speak out and lacking self-confidence. As they progress through our pre-secondary course, they begin to believe in themselves and their horizons begin to broaden. When they go to secondary school, their development continues. A few of our students who have finished Form VI and are waiting to be accepted in university, are helping us at the Center as student matrons. These provide wonderful role models for our younger students