Mara Girls Project

"In Narok County, a predominantly Maasai area, only 1 in 15 girls enrolled in primary school proceeded to secondary school. Girls’ transition rates to university are even less common: 2.4 percent in Trans Mara West and 1 percent in Narok North."

~Brookings Institution, July 2017

We developed a comprehensive library for Mara Girls Leadership School, an extraordinary upper primary school in Talek on the edge of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, and we continue to help out with related programs and tech resources. In an area where few girls have the chance to stay in school, Mara Girls provides a quality education for highly motivated girls from across the region, in a boarding-school setting modeled after the circular Maasai style of family living. This is a life-changing opportunity for girls aged 11 to 15 to focus on education — and to grow into confident thinkers and doers, courageous future leaders, and mentors and role models for other girls. One of our next steps is to support the students with their new Conservation Club. 

Mara Girls Leadership School is a program of Basecamp Foundation Kenya.

When girls and women are educated... families, communities, and whole nations prosper.

Mouline, Jackie, and Sarah the day we finished the library in April 2019

"Mara Girls Library has already become of great help to the girls at school. They are able to study quietly in their free time now, which we never had before. The readers have been especially helpful for the beginners in building their language skills. We have seen that the girls are also becoming more confident from reading and learning. Three of the girls participated in the local music festival in June for the first time and proved to be eloquent public speakers at the event."  

~Mouline Otieno, Head Teacher

Meet Mara Girls graduate Jackie, as she talks about the impact of the library and her hopes for what lies ahead. Guess what her "dream career" is!

What's in the library?

  • A breadth of high-quality fiction and nonfiction, both African and international, for all reading levels

  • A "nature corner" with the complete set of wildlife and conservation books and guides recommended to us by the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya

  • Biographies of inspiring people, with a focus on women and Africans

  • "Golden Tips and Kenya Certificate (KCPE) texts" in all subjects, recommended by the Kenyan Ministry of Education to boost the Kenyan standard curriculum 

  • Easy readers in Swahili and English for building comprehension

  • RACHEL Plus servers for access to digital content including Wikipedia and the African Story Project

village of Talek

Narok County, Kenya

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Mara Girls Leadership School has a strong connection to the Wangari Maathai Foundation, which aims to build integrity and courageous leadership in the next generation. Wangari Maathai started the Green Belt Movement in Kenya in the 1970s, inspiring thousands of women to plant trees, and was the first African woman and first environmentalist to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. We share these principles and the enthusiasm for this remarkable role model for women. The first books we brought here, in 2017, were by or about Wangari Maathai.

One of our new initiatives is helping the school's Conservation Club. 

 
Expanding the Impact
Pilot Project: Solar Home Libraries

In late 2020, we purchased solar lanterns from Basecamp Foundation Kenya big enough to light up a Maasai home and distributed them to the families of Mara Girls, along with a curriculum enhancement book for the students and a collection of children's books and readers for the family. This Mara Girls Solar Library Project is the first step in a dream of solar home libraries for families in this area.

We expect this program to eventually reach 100s of Maasai children each year.

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