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The Manyatta Project

The Manyatta Project began as an experiment:  What if we put a library inside a traditional Maasai village (a manyatta), where the homes are made of earth and have no power or light? It had never been done before. Would anyone come?

In 2022, we launched this experiment by building a small library in the manyatta of Ololchura, near Sekenani, establishing the first library and study center inside one of these villages. With the blessing of the elders, we built it simply out of iron sheets with a concrete floor and curtains made out of Maasai shukas (shawls). A plug-and-play solar on top provides enough power for lighting inside and out, also making this the only lit structure in its village.


Our question was quickly answered, as the Manyatta Library just steps away from where people live was wildly popular from the start. Today, this humble little library is full of children day and night, as we continue to fill it with materials for study and fun for all ages. And thanks to the Manyatta Librarian Andrew, the structure is even used for preschool classes now — another first in these villages!

The Manyatta Project is a pilot program enabling us to try out new ideas and services at the village level. The first initiative, the Ololchura Manyatta Library, has evolved to a community hub (like all good libraries do), with the elders now using the space to manage village affairs, share indigenous knowledge with the next generation, and hold storytelling nights. Since opening the library, we have also added a community water filter and, at the elder's request, are planning to expand the center in 2024 with rainwater harvesting and more space for community gatherings. 


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