TEMBO Newsletter - February 2019
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Families Support the Girls’ Educational Dreams

“Study hard, don’t play and don’t create relationships with boys.” This was the advice that Naomi Noah’s brother gave to her before she headed off for the first time to Lekule Secondary School.

Naomi is one of 36 girls sponsored by TEMBO for Form 1 this January. She attended the PASS program in the fall after completing Class 7 at Longido Primary School. One of seven children, living with their mother in a traditional Maasai home, Naomi is the only girl of five to go to secondary school. Her father passed away but her older brothers have been there to guide her.

Naomi’s mother feels that it is important for Naomi to go to school. “When she comes back to the community, she can help me, help herself and help other people around here.” Her mother dreams that Naomi could become a doctor who “would come to treat people” or a teacher who would ”teach people in our community.”


We wish Naomi every success in her educational journey.

As of January 2019, TEMBO Canada is sponsoring 135 girls for secondary school and 12 girls in vocational training programs. 

New Tailoring Program is Popular with Maasai Women

Grace, a tailoring instructor at the Longido Learning Centre has a dream: “In one year, it would be great if the local women could have the skills to make all of the school uniforms for the TEMBO girls.” This may sound like an unreachable goal but staff at the Longido Learning Centre (LIL) are moving forward to make this happen.

This year, twenty Maasai women from remote villages are learning how to sew, thanks to LIL’s acquisition of five sewing machines and sewing supplies. All the women heard about this program in their literacy groups. The sewing classes run from 12-3 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays and women from 4 remote villages (Ranch, Oltepesi, Kimikouwa and Oldorko) walk up to 8 kms to attend the classes.

In the first month, they learned how to operate the machines and sew basic seams. The first project they worked on was a skirt. Each student took one piece of the skirt, front or back, and learned how to make seams using the tape measure to make simple pleats. They then sewed the front and back together and learned how to put in a zipper.

In this one year program, the women will also learn how to make shirts and dresses.

Involving the Community to Reduce the Incidence of FGM

February 6 marked the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Despite the fact that FGM has been illegal in Tanzania since 1998, it is widely practiced, particularly in remote communities.Young girls are subjected to genital cutting as a precursor to marriage. The practice can result in dangerous and lifelong health complications, particularly during childbirth.

But how do you change attitudes about a practice that is such an accepted part of the culture?

TEMBO has been actively addressing this issue in the villages by increasing awareness of the dangers of FGM and offering safe alternative practices. With a grant  from the Mennonite Central Committee, TEMBO has been working in the villages of Longido, Oltepesi, Ranch and Kimikouwa to try and reduce the incidence of FGM.

Four times a year, TEMBO invites 60-80 people to a seminar in each of the villages. The invitees include men, women, village leaders, elders, and religious leaders.

Paulina Samayani, Executive Director of TEMBO Trust, feels very positive about the program’s impact on the community: “The good picture is that we are seeing more alternative rites ceremonies” (ceremonies without the cutting). When people call us to attend the ceremony, then we know they are serious about not cutting their daughter.”

Men and village leaders are becoming much more engaged in the discussions. “They are asking for more details about the subject.Now they want to be taught and they want to hear about it,” says Paulina. The ‘Laiigwani’ (leaders) have a lot of influence on the communities. She feels that they will help to bring about change.

The program is not without its challenges. There certainly is community resistance to these discussions. Paulina says, “People say to us, ‘Are you coming to tell us that again? No, we don’t want to hear about that today.’ We tell them they have the option to leave but many of them stay and listen.”

The four year grant has also allowed for the training of 8 women in the community, 7 of whom graduated from the TOTS (Training of the Trainers) program, and are now helping to educate others about the risks of FGM. Nalepo, one of the TOTS, held an alternative rites ceremony for her daughters. “I do the ceremony so that others can learn from me.”

Paulina sees that the program will continue to develop this coming year with more alternative rites ceremonies and more conversations in the community. She is hoping to secure funds to expand the program to more villages.

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