HELGA: Maasai Girls Rescue Center


Kajiado, Kenya


Mission: To empower vulnerable members of the community through education and advocacy for meaningful participation in the building of a just and equitable society.

The HELGA Maasai Girls Rescue Center provides a safe haven where Maasai girls can escape early marriage, female genital mutilation, and unwanted pregnancy in order to pursue education. Since its founding in 1986, HELGA has rescued more than 700 girls, providing them with shelter, primary education, and healthcare. HELGA also participates in Maasai community meetings as an advocate for the rights of girls and children. HELGA’s vision is to have a society in which fundamental rights and needs are met.

History

Priscilla, the founder of the center, with two Maasai girls.

Priscilla, the founder of the center, with two Maasai girls.

HELGA’s work for girls began in 1986 when a girl named Jane came to Priscilla Nanguari (HELGA’s founder and Director) with her troubles. Her family planned for her to be married off to a much older man when she was only 12 years old, but she wanted to stay in school. A Maasai herself, she knew that the girls were being forced into early marriage, so Priscilla took her into her home and saw that she finished her education. By 2007 the rescue Center had been established with 3 girls staying at Priscilla’s home. By 2009, there were 16 girls seeking refuge at HELGA and a temporary structure was built to house them. In 2012 we built the current rescue center dormitory which has enabled us to house over 40 girls. Now, HELGA has two full dormitories, new kitchen facilities and a growing primary school. They support over 100 children providing safety, education and opportunity.

Programs

HELGA Primary SchoolHELGA Community Programs

Starting our own primary school was the best way for us to provide education for the girls in our care. The school educates other children in the community as well, for an integrated and sustainable program with a current enrollment of over 100 students.

Additional services include school fee sponsorship, uniforms, sanitary pads and other personal effects for girls and feeding program. Many of the rescued girls attend this school alongside other boys and girls in the community.

HELGA Primary School StudentsRecent accomplishments of the school:

  • New teaching and learning materials provided for teachers and students
  • Exercise books provided to children
  • Two new teachers hired
  • Teacher training by professional counselors. This helps our rescued girls overcome traumatic pasts and succeed in school.
  • Subaru and Mercedes welfare groups as new local supporters, providing student scholarship and in kind donations of food and sports equipment
  • Funds for new kitchen, new classrooms and pit latrines committed

 

To get at the root of the issues girls face in the Maasai community, HELGA implements community programs to make a wider change in the society.

Our women groups meet regularly and act as the eyes and ears of HELGA throughout the community. During meetings, they cover topics such as Hygiene, prevention and treatment of STIs, economic empowerment through training in brick and cooking briquette making, HIV/AIDS education on prevention, treatment, care, stigma and drug adherence.

HELGA is active at community meetings, especially as a voice for the rights of the girlchild. We work closely with community officials and government leaders to be sure our Girls legal rights are being upheld.

Through community sensitization meetings, we aim to change attitudes through education. We speak on child rights and the importance of educating girls. We also remind community members of the laws protecting girls from FGM and child marriage. We provide positive examples of girls who complete their studies and choose their own partners later in life when they are physically and emotionally ready to do so.


Girls from the Center singing and dancing with joy at the ground breaking.

Girls from the Center singing and dancing with joy at the ground breaking of the first dorm.

Since the ground breaking, construction has continued and the foundation is being laid. Although the dorm is not yet completed, an impact is already being made.“My name is Roseline Tukuyiai Mokolo and I have help from Helga. I like Helga organization because they took me when my mother died and I was left with my stepmother and she did not allow me to go to school. I was doing all the work for her and her children. Now I am happy staying at the home of the coordinator and going to school there. Another day at the beginning of July we had a lot of people in the compound who came to be happy with us because a dormitory is going to be built. In fact they have started. My friends and I are very happy with all that is happening here. We thank you and all those who are supporting us. God bless.Roseline Tukuyiai Mokolo, HELGA Student

This video introduces you to a few of the girls from LUA’s Maasai Girls Rescue Center (HELGA) who have courageously chosen education over early forced marriage. Hear what the opportunity of education means to them, and how they have been empowered through this program.

 

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