About Marilyn and Karen
Marilyn worked in the Motion Picture Industry with Warner Brother, Universal, Tri-Star and Dream Works and, Paramount Pictures, was both a producer and “on air talent” with the Atlanta CBS Television Affiliation, where she won numerous Emmy awards.
She was co-owner of two businesses headquartered in Atlanta GA, including an advertising/public relations firm representing major accounts throughout the South Eastern United States.
Karen worked as Executive Director of a South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, General Manager of a men’s Professional Hockey team, and as Director of Fundraising for Fantastic Sams. She also taught riding for the YMCA, and was VP of Franchising for Frannet New England.
She recently published and released her first book “The Parrot’s Perch” which is currently in development as a major motion picture scheduled for release in 2015.
Marilyn retired in 1998 taking a greater interest in her love of photography. Although she does not consider herself a professional photographer she has won numerous International awards for her work and has had her work displayed at The Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington DC.
It was because of her photography that she began traveling throughout Africa. It was because of our mutual love for photography that we reconnected via FaceBook after so many years.
In 2005 Marilyn developed a friendship with a Maasai guide,Wilson Lolpapit, who began to teach her about their culture. He personally found funding to build the first school in his part of Loita Hills in 2003 and recruited their first 43 students; children who had previously spent their days tending cows and goats in the field.
In 2010 she was invited to photograph the ceremony of a newly appointed Maasai “chief”,William Nairuko. Her education of this ancient culture suddenly went into “over-drive”. As their correspondence continued, William, a pharmacy student who works 7 days a week in a town about a 6 hour bus ride from his home expressed his sadness and frustration at trying to lead and guide 22,000 primarily illiterate people at a time when the world was quickly changing. He was aware that the Maasai were changing too, but too slowly. Because of their traditional culture, his people were trapped in a world that still valued livestock over education and he knew that with this attitude their future was doomed.
William is only 26 yrs. old and is the only educated child of 23 siblings (His one father has three wives) and William is their only source of income.
The new generation of Maasai desire only one wife and only as many children as they can educate and support but most of the existing families in Loita Hills are in situations similar to William’s.
In order to make the changes William wishes for his people, they have all realized that education is their only opportunity to survive. The total population of Maasai in Loita Hills is nearly 200,000 people.
In 2012 Marilyn and I became determined to find a way to help. Marilyn moved to the Rift Valley in April, alone, and began many projects. Working from the US, I contacted many organizations and am in the process of setting up several fundraisers in order to provide wells to give them fresh water and scholarships to educate more children.
In Kenya, Marilyn discovered that a major stumbling block to their education was not having any light to study or read with after dark. Without the ability to study, the children are at a major disadvantage to advance their knowledge beyond the most basic education.
They need Light & Water
Together we have launched a fund raising project to help further the education of the Maasai children by providing the most basic of needs that we take for granted–LIGHT & Water.
This is where you come in: We are seeking funds to purchase solar lights for students who live in the dark and drill water wells that will dramatically impact the lives of families for generations to come. Donate Now
There are a total of 21 schools in the Loita Hills area of the Rift Valley with a total of 7200 students.
These kids are eager to learn and improve their lives. The children walk upwards of 15 km a day and go without shoes and in many cases , and even without food in order to buy their required uniforms and pay the tuition.
Many of the students actually sleep on the classroom floor during the school week due to the dangers of walking home through the bush after dark. Their schools have no electricity, light or water. They receive no financial assistance and very few resources or supplies from the government. There is not even a word for school in their Maasai language.
As one of the oldest cultures in the world, the Maasai people have always lived a nomadic life. Until recently, no one possessed anything more than a few cows, a few sheep and goats.
That is all changing. Though they still reside in homes made of cow dung, these homes are now permanent. Families that can, have begun agriculture. Various church organizations have helped build a few classrooms that are now their schools.
Once a classroom has been built, the Kenyan Government provides a few textbooks and a few teachers.
The students devour their lessons. Marilyn has never met children with more desire to learn. They cannot do homework or read at home because they have no light. They work by wood burning fires at home and the occasional flashlight when sleeping at the school—but wood and batteries are both valuable commodities.
With our plan Every student will OWN their light. It will be used at home as well as late nights in the classroom. The lights will become an incentive to send a child to school. Families with more than one child attending school will benefit greatly since these lights will be shared among these large family villages. They will create a much safer home environment because at present, very few can even afford flashlights. Donate Now
Prior to moving there on the first of April, Marilyn purchased 2 solar lanterns for herself, knowing she would not have an electrical source to power lamps.She purchased them from D.light Design, a company with the goal of trying to “bring light into the world where there is none”. http://www.dlightdesign.com/home_global.php
These simple, inexpensive lights are my only light here in Kenya at night and they do a great job! They are lightweight and durable. Best of all, a days charge can give light for 6 hrs or more. One lantern will provide enough light for a one room home. We have personally purchased a few for some of the very top students because of the great need they have for reading at night. It is very hard to help one child yet turn away so many others.
We began to think about how we could help bring light to all the children of the Maasai, helping to further their education and turning no student away.
The emergence of the internet over the past 20 years allows us to now access global information instantly and watch videos, silly or educational, via YouTube and chat with people around the world via Skype. There are more mobil devices in Africa than anywhere else in the world and they are a primary source of education because they are used for internet access at very reasonable rates. Even many children in the field tending the livestock have some kind of mobil device and Facebook has opened the world community to them.
Right now, Loita High School is the only school with internet access and a computer funded by a group out of Holland. These same generous people also opened the first IT Center with 15 computers that a few of the students in the Rift Vally Loita Hills area can reach within a day or 2 walk. It is hoped that some of the educated, interested Maasai community members will actually have an opportunity to take courses in computer studies at the Center.
The world our children live in today is only getting smaller….our awareness and responsibility must extend globally to those who need our help. We believe that this project will be successful and will offer the personal satisfaction to you by changing the lives of young, needy, eager students half way around the world. Donate Now
We can purchase a solar light for $10 and light a home.
The schools we would like to help are:
Ilkujuka Primary School -300 students
Kone Primary School -300 students
Loita High School – 500 students ( the ONLY high school in Loita Hills)
Napolosa Primary School 400 students
Oltarakuai Primary School -300 students
Osinantei Primary School -300 students
Primary schools in the Rift Valley have students ranging in age of 6 to 17 yrs. old. A student begins 1st grade at what ever age the family can afford to pay the tuition.
There should be no administrative or delivery costs because DLights headquarters is in Tanzania.Marilyn will personally drive to Tanzania to pick up and deliver the lights herself. We have no timetable, and would like it to continue until the goal is met.
This would be a “hands on”, very visual project, because we would provide photographs of how your generosity will impact Maasai students.
You will SEE how their effort makes a big difference in these lives. We will have personal handwritten notes of thanks from the Maasai students to those who get involved, giving you new friends for life.
The Maasai students would eagerly greet any donor who happens to visit the Maasai Mara on holiday to give a greeting of gratitude.We doubt anyone would ever forget such a gift. Light offers an opportunity they have never had before. Donate Now
Together, two childhood friends, Marilyn Parver and Karen Keilt, will co-ordinate the logistics for this project. We can accept donations via Paypal on the web-site of WorldServe International a 501-3 (c) under the heading Loita Hills Maasai Project.
We sincerely believe this project will have beneficial effects to all involved.
To be a part of actually bringing light to a dark world is an unforgettable experience. Won’t you please consider helping us with this project? Today I flipped a switch in my home and turned a lever on my sink, I brightened the rooms with light and filled my glass with water. I am certain you have done the same. There are no switches or levers in Loita Hills. Won’t you please help us to bring them these necessities? Donate Now