Maasai girls are considered to be providers of family labor and targeted for the traditional practice of early marriage in order for the family to gain cattle from a dowry in exchange for their young daughters. Since young girls as young as 8 years old will leave their homes to settle in their marital homes with their husbands, (who are often older than their fathers); the families and Maasai community choose to invest in educating their sons rather than their daughters. The education of girls and young women is seen not only as a burden, but a waste of limited financial resources.
Why does the program focus on helping young women? Young girls that have managed to escape genital mutilation and forced marriages by attending charitable primary and secondary boarding schools have no means of safety nor possibility of post-secondary education after high school. As a result, they often return to their villages to endure genital mutilation and forced marriages; or they seek refuge in the city. With no marketable skills or training and no means to support themselves, they are often sexually exploited, become prostitutes, and fall victim to HIV/AIDS. Maasai Voices of Hope’s goal is to raise money to build a Safe Home/Learning Center for these young women in order to provide a protected safe haven for them to run to and a safe place to live while they are continuing their education.