Lalafofofo.org has begun construction of a permanent home for a Maasaiwidow in Northern Tanzania, one of several micro-grant projects initiated by the Silicon Valley-based nonprofit organization.
MENLO PARK, Calif., November 16, 2015—Lalafofofo.org, a new 501c3 nonprofit organization developed to raise funds for affordable, small-scale service projects in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania, has launched the first in a series of micro-grant projects to improve the lives of villagers living in the East African community. One of the most anticipated projects to launch is construction of a safe, permanent house for a Maasai widow living in Boma Ng’ombe, Tanzania.
The recipient of the house, Maria, is a mother of two who was displaced when her husband died, leaving her with two children to raise. Women and children in particular struggle in the patriarchal Maasai culture, where men are polygamous and women are financially dependent on their husband. If he dies, his family will often take possession of the marital home, evict the woman and either confiscate her children or evict them along with her. In many cases, the widows are left HIV positive by husbands who have died from AIDS.
West of Moshi and Mount Kilimanjaro in Northern Tanzania, the Maasai village of Boma Ng’ombe is a particularly poor area of the country. The landscape is arid and dry, Maasai villagers have a difficult life. Forced to live in a hut with little protection from outside dangers, Maria—like many Maasai widows—struggles to care for her children.
Huts like the one Maria and her children currently live in are built by hand according to the traditional Maasai style; round with three living areas – one for animals, a common area, and a sleeping area. Sticks, grass and cow dung are the materials used to construct the round huts with a thatched roof and dirt floor. Huts built this way can last several years, but need to be replaced periodically. Building of the huts requires scavenging for the materials by hand, transporting them by foot, and fetching water several miles to mix the materials—very difficult tasks for a single mother raising children.
Building a house for a Maasai widow serves many functions, not the least of which is providing a safer, more healthy existence for her and her children. The home being built by Lalafofofo.org for Maria will last at least 20 years, eliminating the constant maintenance demands that go with a hut. The new house will be less than 1000 square feet and contain three small rooms. Once completed, it will provide Maria and her children with a place of permanence, help maintain their social standing in the community and, because the house has a door that they can lock, keep them safe.
Houses like Maria’s can be built in Boma Ng’ombe in less than a month using local materials and local labor at a cost of just $1,500. They are basic without electricity and running water, but Maasai are already well adapted to this traditional way of life.
For a Maasai widow, a simple house offers safety, security and dignity for herself and her family faced with a difficult existence following the loss of the husband.
In addition to the house building project, Lalafofofo.org has begun working on other micro-grant projects in Boma Ng’ombe, including:
• Sponsoring a lunch program for Tindegani public school, which would feed 200 students daily a nutritious meal of ugali (corn porridge) and beans.
• An initiative to deliver solar lanterns to 10 houses (2-3 per house/hut), providing an important light source for families living without electricity.
Construction of a new kitchen for the Sanya Station School, located west of Moshi and Mount Kilimanjaro in Northern Tanzania. The kitchen is to be located in a small separate building in the back of the school and will be equipped to feed 455 students and five teachers. Currently, lunch is being cooked in a shed over an open fire next to the school’s play yard.”
To make a donation or find out more about the Vaughan’s charitable projects in Tanzania, visit the lalafofofo.org website, email info(at)lalafofofo(dot)org, or call 650.218.3027.
Lalafofofo (a Swahili expression for “sleeping peacefully”) is a 501c3 charitable organization created by Laura Vaughan of Atherton, Calif. Lalafofofo is set up to be a source of affordable, small-scale service projects in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania, East Africa. Lalafofofo links individuals, youths, families and groups directly to much needed projects in Kilimanjaro, ranging in cost from $500-$2,500 for financial sponsorship.
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