Sister Mary Vertucci

“We are involved in a ‘pioneer work’– to build where nothing existed before, to develop a curriculum which suits the people of this area and to help raise the status of women and to help young women realize and develop their own gifts.”

mvertucci_lgThe tremendous need for secondary education for Maasai girls led to the founding of the Emusoi Center in Arusha. The center provides a home for 270 Maasai girls who live at Emusoi and at secondary schools around Arusha. There are very few college-educated women among the Maasai, so the need is great for education at all levels.

Sister Mary Vertucci of Somerset, NJ, joined the Maryknoll Sisters in 1964. She was assigned to Tanzania in 1971, where she taught chemistry at a secondary school for girls in Koroqwe. She served in the regional administration of the Maryknoll Sisters in Tanzania, after which she did vocation ministry for our congregation in 1982.

When she returned to Tanzania in 1987, Sister Mary got involved in youth work and education for girls. Her keen interest in empowering young women led her later on to participate as a research assistant for the Pastoral Research and Development Program, which does research in the field of education among the Maasai, a nomadic, pastoral people that continues to be marginalized in Tanzania.

in 1999, Sister Mary helped found Emusoi, which means “a place of discovery and awareness” in Maa, the Maasai language. The center aims to prepare school-age girls who grew up among nomadic peoples in Tanzania.

A new book published in October 2009 tells the stories of six Maasai girls who are being educated by Sister Mary at Emusoi.