Dear friends of Oliveseed,
I’m appealing to you today to give generously in support of our work at Oliveseed in 2023. With our sister organization ramped up in Kenya, we are helping more women, children, and communities than we would have thought possible.
Our work is improving lives in the Maasai community by delivering: Libraries, supplies, and scholarships for literacy and education, the alternative to early marriage for girls… Clean water accessible to 20,000 people, dramatically reducing disease from drawing water from open pits shared with cattle… Three micro-enterprises for women in our new Women’s Work Center so they can pay for school and help their families… Solar lanterns for homes and lighting for libraries, serving village students who live predominantly in unlit earthen homes… And in Morocco, our library program has evolved to a nationwide story competition for rural youth, elevating voices previously unheard.
All of our successes impacting change are enabled by your support, and at our scale, every contribution makes a big difference. Please give today so we can build on our momentum. Contact me any time if you'd like to learn more about our organization and our work.
~Barb Mackraz, Founder & Executive Director
Taking Root in Kenya
We founded Oliveseed Kenya Trust in 2021 as our local organization in the Maasai Mara, and that has become the great enabler. Our co-founder and GM, Amos Kipeen, helped Oliveseed voluntarily for years, and is now full-time. As a long-time community organizer and valued member of this community, Amos rallies the local team members, volunteers, and stakeholders, and brings the blessings of the elders. We are embedded in this community, fully operational with a base, a vehicle, and banking. We were awarded an African grant this year for our literacy projects and received a donation of 10 acres from a local family, neither of which would be possible without a local nonprofit entity.
2022: We developed libraries at 3 more public schools in the Maasai Mara, each equipped with 2000 new books plus games, puzzles, art supplies, and laptops with East African content. We also built the first library and study center inside a manyatta (traditional village), solar lit and steps away from where people live. Now, 3000 more children have access to books of all kinds. Students can't succeed without books, and the majority of schools in this region have no library at all.
In 2023, we're building the first Public Library in the rural Maasai Mara, serving more students and adults in a community of over 10,000 people. Anchoring a new Center for Sustainability, this will also provide a platform for literacy and computer classes, business skills training, and indigenous story projects.
2022: In a region where 80% of hospitalizations are the result of dirty water, we developed a Clean Water Facility with Global Water First, including hydrogeology analysis, borehole, solar pump, water storage, and spigot providing free clean well water for household use. 1000s of families will no longer need to get their water from an open pit shared with cattle and wildlife.
In 2023, we're adding government-certified filtration with a reusable bottling service offering clean, low-cost drinking water to over 20,000 people who have never had access to this level of clean water before. Sales to local safari camps will sustain the business, and women will run the operation.
2022: We ran our 2nd nationwide Short Story Competition for youth in Morocco, and in Kenya hosted an event honoring students who wrote about life during COVID-19. We published the stories, distributed these books to libraries, and were featured in the Frankfurt Book Fair and the Marrakech English Book Fair. Young people bravely develop their voice, and this serves as an example to all students of an achievement in literacy.
In 2023, through new partnerships with publishers, we're doubling down on sharing student stories with the world, beginning with an anthology from our 2nd Story Competition in Morocco. Students in both Morocco and Kenya will also capture indigenous stories from elders before they are lost, and those stories will be published in English and the original language.
Oliveseed Women's Work Center
2022: We built a Work Center on donated land in the Maasai Mara with programming to provide micro-enterprise for women and a cooperative economic model. The first phase includes a beading workshop with sales outlets at local safari camp gift shops; and electric vehicles to enable women to deliver their family's morning milk to a refrigeration center, instead of 4 hours on foot. These activities expand on what the women do now, multiplying their revenues so they can better provide for their families.
In early 2023, the Center goes live with beading and e-transport. A sewing center will be added in Q3 so the women can make affordable school uniforms and sanitary kits for girls to keep children in school. We plan to replicate and refine this micro-enterprise and financial cooperative, and offer it as a model for others.
Science & Tech Education
2022: We included laptops preloaded with eKitabu East African content in 2 primary school libraries this year. At Maasai Mara High School, we are provisioning science labs, which helped the school win funding from the government to construct the new science building. High school students here had not been able to complete science experiments required for graduation.
In early 2023, the science labs at Maasai Mara High School will launch with supplies and equipment for biology, physics, and chemistry experiments. Also, the new Public Library we are building will have a computer room with classes for students and adults and will provide internet access to a community of over 10,000 people.
2022: We sponsored 8 students from the Maasai Mara to attend academic boarding high schools and have secured support for 4 years including room and board. In this region, only 11% of children are enrolling in high school and the number is even lower for girls. If not for school, many girls end up in early forced marriage.
In 2023, we're building a partnership with a scholarship organization to expand these opportunities to more deserving young people.
Power & Light
2022: We supplied libraries with take-home solar lights that students can check out with a book, building upon our solar home library project from 2021. The solar-powered Manyatta Library we built this year is the first lit structure in its village. Without this lighting, students are not able to read or study in their unlit earthen homes.
In 2023, we're expanding the use of solar with more portable lights for school libraries, solar-charged electric vehicles for women to transport their family's milk to a cooling center, and solar-powered Public Library, Women's Work Center, and second Manyatta Library.
This is all possible because of your help. Thank you.