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  • hello@safekenya.org

SAFE Maa

SAFE Maa are based in the Loita Hills, a remote and rural Maasai community in south-west Kenya with a population of 35-40,000. It has no roads or communication infrastructure. Its inaccessibility has allowed the community to live in relative isolation, limiting the spread of new ideas and attitudes. SAFE Maa work in three main areas: HIV/AIDS, FGM/C and the Environment.

SAFE Maa have been in operation since 2006 and have built up a reputation for excellence. They are known for their unique ability to maintain and promote the Maasai culture, whilst bringing about social change. Under the leadership of project managers Amos Leuka and Sarah Tenoi, SAFE Maa have become a household name in the region and its members held in high esteem.

In May 2017, sponsored by the J.A.C. Trust, SAFE Maa undertook an external evaluation of their FGM/C programme. The team were very encouraged by the findings, to read the full report, please click here.

Amos Leuka

Project Manager

Sarah Tenoi

Project Manager

Christine Koyie

Outreach Officer & Performer

David Shakai

Outreach Officer and Performer

Kencha Sinag’au

Outreach Officer and Performer

Shashon Oloibelo

Outreach Officer and Performer

Naserian Simpano

Outreach Officer and Performer

Everlyne Siloma

Performer and Singer

Everlyn Shuma

Performer

Lemayian Murkuk

Performer

Philip Murkuk

Performer

Sarah Koin

Performer

Christine Nagabual

Performer

Nalang'u Nkiton

Performer

Purity Murkuk

Performer

Dickson Leuka

Performer and Security Guard

Wilson Nankiria

Head of Security and Cook

Kumari Pempa

Security Guard

Saitoti Tupet

Security Guard

HIV/AIDS

Due to its inaccessibility, there is a critical lack of HIV/AIDS knowledge in Loita. Instead, information is gleaned through myth and superstition. SAFE Maa work to dispel misconceptions, provide accurate information, promote condom use and reduce the stigma of PLWHA in the community.

On Stage: SAFE Maa use Maasai song, a traditional Maasai method of conveying information, to provide mass education on HIV/AIDS. The Maasai love their culture and are fiercely proud of it, and song is an essential component. Therefore, when the team start to perform, everyone comes to listen.
Off Stage: SAFE Maa provide follow up programmes with all groups of Maasai Society in order to provide a deeper education on HIV transmission, prevention and care. The facilitators work with the community to create and implement initiatives which improve access to and use of condoms.

FGM/C

In 2010, when SAFE Maa began their FGM abandonment programme, 100% of girls in the Loita Hills were being cut as part of their graduation into womanhood. This involved the removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and the partial or total removal of the labia majora (Type 2 circumcision). The team have made considerable progress, over 30% of girls are now undergoing the Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP), which involves no cut. SAFE Maa believe in the next few years, Loita will be declared an FGM/C free zone. When this is done, girls and women for generations to come will be protected against the violence of FGM/C.

On Stage: The FGM/C abandonment performance consists of two groups of singers, one representing the traditionalists who are in favour of preserving FGM/C and the other are progressives who want to abandon it. The two groups sing to each other, relaying their arguments, and one by one, the traditionalists begin to join the side of the progressives. At the end, the remaining traditionalists agree to at least discuss the issue.
SAFE Moran: The Morans (warriors) have added their voice to the campaign against FGM/C. The Moran’s are the protectors of the culture, they are also a group who are approaching marriage age; their agreement to marry uncut girls and actively advocate for FGM/C abandonment is incredibly powerful.
Off Stage: Focusing on all levels of Maasai society, the team carry out workshops, school clubs, youth forums, and one on one interventions that allow for deeper conversations about all aspects of FGM/C. Workshop participants are separated according to gender and age set, allowing them to be open and honest. SAFE Maa outreach officers also work with individual families who have daughters approaching the cutting age. They are on hand to provide advice, supporting the girl and her parents to opt for the ARP over circumcision.

Environment

The Loita Hills are home to the Loita Namina Enkiyo Forest, or the forest of the Lost Child. The forest is not only an integral part of Maasai cultural life, but an important animal migratory route and a water catchment area. The destruction of this forest is the biggest threat to the Loita Maasai’s way of life.
At the request of Maasai community leaders, who are increasingly concerned about the destruction of the forest, SAFE Maa are embarking on an ambitious conservation plan, inspired by Edward O Wilsons ‘Half Earth’ vision, the team aim to protect 20% of the Loita Hills from deforestation.

Community engagement: SAFE Maa will carry out a mass education programme, including performances, workshops and one on ones to increase awareness of the need for a protected area of forest and educating individuals on sustainable farming practices.
Conservation: With the agreement of the community, the team aim to identify areas for protection, including water catchment areas and animal migration corridors. The morans (warriors) will then be employed to protect this area, making sure it is only accessed by pedestrians and by the community for cultural ceremonies.
SAFE Maa are looking for partners for the environment programme, to get involved, email hello@safekenya.org.