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Naiyobi Women's Project

$2,120 of $3,000 goal

Raised by 19 people in 3 months
Naiyobi Village holds a special place in my heart. It sits on the northern slopes of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania, looking across the Great Rift Valley and up at impressive Ol Doinyo Lengai. It is the birthplace of my husband, the home of his family, and the center of a Maasai community of about 10,000.

Though the grass is green in the rainy season and the setting idyllic, life is far from easy there, especially for the women. The women live within the restraints of both traditional Maasai culture and the regulations of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (for example, they cannot grow food for their families and can only graze their livestock in certain areas). Inadequate access to water, transportation, hospital services, and reliable communication heightens their struggle. Despite these incredible challenges, the women's smiles, warmth, and laughter prevail; their tenacity endures and inspires.

I chose to focus the efforts of my graduate work on women's development in Naiyobi to help the women help themselves and their families. To learn more about their greatest needs and challenges, their perspectives of education, and their interest in pursuing women-centered training and development opportunities, my local friend interviewed women in the village. The responses were both illuminating and inspiring. In a nutshell, the women highly value educational opportunities for themselves and their children and are excited to learn to speak their national language, to learn about women's rights and acquire better business skills. They are eager to participate in women-centered training and development opportunities and cited savings and loan co-ops, small livestock/business co-ops, and artisan co-ops as ventures they feel would best work in Naiyobi. 

I have been searching for grants that align with the women's motivations. I've also been looking for organizations that focus on women's empowerment and work with women on development projects that benefit entire communities. Most of the opportunities I have found require that the women's group be successfully established for a few years before even applying. Some organizations will only partner with groups within the vicinity of their main office in Tanzania. Others have simply not replied to my messages.

This is where we and this GoFundMe effort come into play! I am hoping that you will help me raise  funds that enable the women to establish their co-ops and implement their training and development projects. Funds may be used to purchase supplies/capital, contribute to base funds for the savings and loan co-op, pay local trainers/teachers, and/or cover travel expenses for women attending training sessions.

Thank you for supporting the Naiyobi Women's Project in any way you are able. I wish I could take you with me so that you too could be touched by Naiyobi and the people who have captured my heart:)
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April 24, 2018
Thirteen Co-ops!

Thanks to your generosity and on-going support, thirteen women’s co-ops received loans this round of the rotating fund! This means that over the next six months, 65 women will be working with their co-op members on small-business projects that should help them purchase food, medicine, clothing and other needed supplies for their families. Without the Naiyobi Women’s Project and your help, these opportunities would not exist. We can’t thank you enough!

We have also raised enough to allow for continued coaching, training, and peer-teaching for most of this year, but not quite. My priority is to raise enough to fully fund 2018, and ideally the beginning of 2019! Once we reach this goal, we can focus on raising funds to bring the total number of loans the rotating fund can supply to 15. If you are so willing, please share these hopes and intentions with others you know who might be interested in supporting the work we are doing with the women in Naiyobi.

Lots of love and gratitude, Kim
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We are nearly half way there! THANK YOU SO MUCH for helping us get closer to our goal so quickly:) When we have reached it, I will transfer the funds GoFundMe is sending my way to Tanzania where those dollars will be put to work.

The next round of the rotating fund starts in May, so I am hoping that we reach the $3,000 mark by the first of April at the latest. That way an additional four co-ops (20 additional women) will have the opportunity to start their small business projects and bring more food, medicine, clothing and other needed supplies home to their families.

Yours in sharing the love, Kim
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January 31, 2018
Pride and gratitude

It’s so hard to put into words all I experienced while working with Theresia and the women of Nadupoi in Naiyobi last week. I was moved to tears by their sincere interest and genuine appreciation of the training, love, and support that Theresia and I shared with them, by their willingness to help one another learn and grow, and by the strides they have made over these last two years. It was a joy to see those who have been involved since January 2016 coaching those newer to the rotating fund and those hoping to receive a loan with their co-ops in the future. The women’s perspectives and creativity brought a smile to my face and bolstered my confidence in them. I am so proud of all we have accomplished together and am filled with gratitude for the generosity that as allowed this important work and these meaningful accomplishments to be made.

In addition to providing interactive budgeting, sales pricing, and business proposal seminars, we trained the longest term Nadupoi members in the proposal selection process, so that they will eventually be able to manage the rotating fund on their own in the future. Unfortunately, only one of them was able to read. Hopefully, the peer teacher we recruited last week will help change this reality, slowly but surely helping the women learn to read, write, and do basic math. She seems excited for the challenge and ready for the task at hand. Ester will be offering three two-hour classes a week for those interested in learning. We wish them luck!

We also shared a women’s reproductive health seminar with all interested women. To build on their knowledge, we first asked what they already knew and how young women typically learn about these things. Although there seemed to be no formal nor informal practice of teaching and learning (none of them remembered learning from their mothers nor at school if they had attended), I was delighted to hear that they, like so many indigenous women around the world, have cycles synched with the moon and pay close attention to its phases. The women were curious, asked great questions, and appreciated the knowledge and suggestions we shared. The village women’s leader said she would call a village-wide women’s meeting and request that mothers bring their daughters so that Theresia could share the information with all of them. Right on!

To continue this important work, we need to renew our fundraising efforts. We currently have enough to fund the Naiyobi Women’s Project through August of this year, which includes travel expenses and stipends for Theresia’s monthly training sessions with Nadupoi, management of the rotating fund, and the peer teacher. We’d love to increase the number of loans the rotating fund can offer as well. Currently, the rotating fund supports eleven co-ops per cycle; can we make it fifteen?

I am also looking to share our work with community groups interested in learning more about the Naiyobi Women’s Project. Please let me know if you know of a group that would appreciate a presentation. Much appreciated!

With pride and gratitude, Kim
Women coaching women
Business proposal training
Theresia, me, & a few Nadupoi members
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September 24, 2017
Congratulations to all!

Congratulations to the 45 women who participated in the nine co-ops this last round of the Naiyobi Women’s Project rotating fund for women! Despite a challenging first few months due to drought and the skyrocketing cost of maize, all of the co-ops paid back their loans with 10% interest earlier this month. Unfortunately, the higher costs of doing business led to smaller profits for the women. In hope of a better situation this time, several of them submitted loan proposals with their co-ops for the third cycle of the rotating fund on the same day they repaid their last loan. Fingers crossed and prayers said for more favorable conditions this upcoming rainy season.

Over the last several months, Theresia and I have been working to find exchange possibilities with other Maasai women’s groups in northern Tanzania. Our hope is to provide a subset of the Nadupoi women the opportunity to meet and learn from other Maasai women, to be exposed to strategies and ideas that they might incorporate in Naiyobi, and to better understand women’s rights and what other women’s groups are doing to protect them. We found two groups willing to work with us, one of which is a great fit, however, the distance, time, and expense required to get the women to their meetings is excessive for the short amount of time we would have with their members. We will continue searching for additional groups for the Nadupoi participants to learn from so that we can combine a handful of exchanges that make the travel, time, and expense more reasonable. Thank you for your generous support of this effort. The $1,000 raised for this purpose will be used to fund the loans of two more women’s co-ops until we have a worthwhile field trip planned. We think that is better than the money just sitting in the bank!

Partly due to the challenging conditions this spring, partly due to the demanding lives of the Maasai women in Naiyobi, and potentially due to things I don’t yet understand, the peer teachers that had agreed to teach multiple classes a week were not doing so as planned. We continue to search for a solution that will allow those women who want to learn how to read, write, and do basic arithmetic the opportunity to do so, while also providing a chance for committed peer teachers to be paid for their efforts.

Theresia and I are currently reviewing proposals for the next cycle of the rotating fund (huge thanks to Laizer for translating them for me). She will return to Naiyobi in a few weeks to issue the loans to the ELEVEN co-ops selected and provide the women with additional business training. I can’t tell you how excited I am to share that because of you, 68 women have participated in the rotating fund to date AND double the number of women will receive loans with their co-ops for the third cycle of the fund than did when we started less than a year and a half ago. These small business loans translate into opportunities for women to buy food, clothing, and medicine for themselves and their families while also developing their personal capacity and agency. We wish them well!

Asante sana, marafiki zangu!
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$2,120 of $3,000 goal

Raised by 19 people in 3 months
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