Maasai girls who study at our school in Tanzania share their struggle.
At a Maasai boma recently, Naha Shuaka told the Prince of Wales that the world should know about her struggle to get an education. Maasai custom ties girls to the land and to early marriages. Instead, Naha managed to become a student at the Emusoi Centre, a Maryknoll Sisters school that’s giving hope to girls like her.
Students and staff from the school greeted the visiting Prince and his wife inside a traditional Maasai boma, or homestead.Tanzania celebrated 50 years of independence in 2011, and the school joined in to call attention to the needs of people in the region.
Drought is overtaking much of Tanzania, and pastoral herders are feeling the effects. Every day, women trek up to 20 kilometers as they carry 20-litre containers of water on their backs. The east African nation is a major presence for Maryknoll Sisters.
At the Maasai village, Prince Charles also met Sister Mary Vertucci, who brought Naha and other students to meet the Prince. She heads the Emusoi school, which welcomes Maasai girls like Naha who are determined to get an education. Naha is in her last year of diploma studies in banking and finance.
Two years ago, the British government funded a book written by Naha and other students at Emusoi to get the word out about education’s benefits. The young authors wrote their book, Emusoi: Maasai Girls Tell Their Stories, to raise awareness of their struggle to go to school.
On their visit to Tanzania, the Prince and Duchess are touring projects funded by Great Britain’s Department for International Development.
During their time with the royal couple, the Emusoi students sang and sat in a small hut with the Prince and the Duchess. Then Sister Mary described the place of learning that is Emusoi. Naha was one of two students who told their stories. Many girls resort to running away from their families so they can go to school.
The students then presented the visiting royalty with copies of their book.
The Emusoi Centre, named after a Maasai word that means “discovery,” helps girls break from the strict traditions of their Maasai families and begin basic studies. The school is so popular that girls have had to be turned away for lack of enough space.
Of the 35 girls at Emusoi who will enter secondary school in January, only 10 are sponsored so far. So that the rest can continue their studies, Emusoi hopes to raise at least $1,000 for each of the others.