Maasai Girls Scholarship Fund

This summer, I spent a week volunteering as a second grade teacher at Mlima Shabaha primary school in the bush of Tanzania. The school is in an Maasai community, a traditional Tanzanian tribe with deep roots in East Africa. Villagers in Mlima Shabaha often live a very harsh life, with few comforts or connections to the modern world. Two orphaned students in particular, Selina and Julianna, were brought to my attention by the teachers at the school.

Selina is a 12-year-old girl in fifth grade and both her parents are deceased, so she lives with her uncle and his children. The teachers are concerned that Selina is being neglected, as she often comes to school hungry and not properly clothed. Julianna, a 14-year old girl in seventh grade, lives with her grandmother "Bibi" and is solely responsible for providing for "Bibi" as well as herself.  Apart from their tough home lives, both girls also face an uncertain future because they are being promised for marriage as of September 2017.

In Maasai culture, it is common for girls between 12 and 14 to be taken as a third or fourth wife to a man who is typically much older for incredibly small amounts of money or food -- a shocking revelation for me. When I was their age, all I worried about was playing soccer and seeing my friends. These girls are younger than I am, and already face a life without options or promise.  

As we looked into it further, we realized that what was happening to Selina and Juliana was widespread. In fact, research shows that only 24% of girls in Tanzania are enrolled in secondary education, meaning that more than 3/4 of girls are pulled out of school before the eighth grade. As an American teenager in the San Francisco Bay Area, education has always been a given in my life, and to encounter girls who regarded school as an uncertainty was a wake-up call for me. So I decided I wanted to help these girls- starting with Selina and Julianna- have the same opportunity to go to school.

I hope to raise $3,000 to pay for boarding school tuition and living expenses so Selina can finish her primary education and Julianna can start her secondary education. I have visited their potential schools in Tanzania, and both girls are extremely smart students who would thrive in these environments.

This is a very time-sensitive project, as both girls are in a precarious situation. Selina lives with a very unpredictable uncle and faces the immediate threat of marriage. Meanwhile, Julianna will take her primary school exams in September and then, tragically, her uncles want to sell her for marriage even though "Bibi" would like Julianna to continue her studies. We need to act fast. My goal is for Selina and Juliana to enroll in their new schools in October 2017.

Every donation counts in our effort to give Selina, Julianna, and other Maasai girls the opportunity for a safe and secure life, and a more promising path forward! All donations will be administered and managed through Lalafofofo, a non-profit organization that connects American and Tanzanian youth, helping to create small-scale service and community-sustaining projects that address some of the Kilimanjaro region’s most urgent needs. Lalafofofo is a 501c3 non-profit organization (tax ID #47-3989846). More information is available at
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Organizer and beneficiary

Emma Doettling 
San Carlos, CA
Jennifer Doettling