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ACACIA MOYO - WHERE TRADITION MEETS TECHNOLOGY

SAG HARBOR, New York

Cause Description:
You are a Maasai man or woman, living on the Kitengela plains of Kenya, with the Nairobi skyline looming on the horizon. Every day, city developers claim another parcel of land. Soon there is less grazing land available for your livestock and for the abundant wildlife around you. You live on $3 or $6 a week - if that. Finally, you are so desperate that you sell off your land. No land means no livestock. No livestock means no food. No livestock means you can't marry. No land means you are no longer a Maasai. A combination of TRADITION and TECHNOLOGY is the key to survival for indigenous people. We work with the Maasai community of Kitengela, Kenya, to retain their traditions and prevent the sale of precious land by using state-of-the-art agricultural and energy-producing technologies along with basic techniques in construction, technology, medicine and the arts to develop sustainable livelihoods through creative entrepreneurship. The Kitengela Maasai community in Kenya lives on the unfenced southern boundary of Nairobi National Park which allows wildlife such as lions, giraffe, zebra, ostrich, wildebeest, cheetah, warthog and many other species to roam freely over the plains of Kitengela. While Maasai culture promotes conservation - they have never been hunters - the long-established Kenyan organization called The Wildlife Foundation (TWF http://www.thewildlifefoundationkenya.org/) has worked for several years to educate local Maasai about the need for and benefits of wildlife conservation. However, this community is impoverished and families are often forced to sell their land in order to survive. New land-owners routinely fence in their land, thus reducing available grazing grounds for both livestock and wildlife, and causing havoc to the seasonal migration routes of wildebeest and zebra. Our model seeks to maintain Maasai traditions while creating true independence through harnessing solar energy, learning effective organic food growing techniques, understanding essential health basics and core human rights while integrating traditional capacities for community building. In the year since Acacia Moyo was founded, we have already partnered with The Wildlife Foundation (TWF) - conservation; the Center for Emergent Diplomacy (CED) - leadership training; and the Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) - sustainable agriculture. In addition, three ladies of the Kintengela Olmakau Cultural Cooperative have been accepted into the 2019 International Folk Art Market (IFAM) in Sant Fe with their truly gorgeous beaded baskets, sandals and jewelry. IFAM accepts artistans from all over the world and is extremely competitive. We have also sponsored four high school girls for their full year 4-year program at the Empakasi High School in Kitengela. These girls have been rescued by our partner, Chief Nickson Parmisa, from being forced to marry far older men, or having to undergo female genital circumcision. Now their parents have agreed to let them complete high school. We are now raising funds for our initial program - a state-of-the-art food growing program on two acres of land donated by the community. We intend to produce enough food for the community with excess to sell in the surrounding region. We have developed a core curriculum around this program that includes basic nutrition, health, construction, technology, human rights and the arts. Our teachers will be culled from a pool of Kenyan experts as well as others from all over the world. We've come so far! What was just an idea cooked up in the co-founder's living room has rapidly blossomed into a functioning unit which has already attracted many interested stake-holders. This is what your money will do: 1. Bring training in leadership as related to climate change to the community. 2. Start our community food-growing project with necessary equipment and seeds. You can learn all about our partners - the Kitengela Maasai community - our mission, our global partners and our most pressing needs at our website. Why is it important to help indigenous cultures to survive? With the Maasai, it is their intricate and ancient knowledge of their land, livestock and especially, the wildlife that must be preserved. In Kenya, most of the game parks are on Maasai land. Without the Maasai to protect and watch over wildlife, those areas will soon become slums, hunting reserves or poaching paradises for unscrupulous people who don't care about wildlife at all. The Maasai culture is invaluable to us not only for its connection to land and wildlife, but also for its inherent wisdom and functioning social structure. We have much to learn from them. WHAT DOES ACACIA MOYO MEAN? The acacia is an umbrella-shaped tree that dots the plains of Africa, providing shelter for animals and people alike. "Moyo" is the Kisuaheli word for "heart" and "spirit." We feel that the name ACACIA MOYO aptly describes our intentions.

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