Loodariak Youth Educational Ekiteng (Cow) Scholarship Fund

It starts with a cow.

In the Maasai community, a cow is life. It is an investment that provides economic benefit, sustenance and nourishment necessary for the family to survive. In addition to providing milk and meat, the cows are sold for additional income. Teriano has supported her education at Ryerson and that of her three siblings through buying and selling cattle. This gave her the idea to create the Enkiteng Youth Educational Fund which would provide financial stability and allow the families to address the educational needs of the youth in her community. The Youth Education Fund is a fundraising initiative that will support young Maasai girls and boys to initiate and further their education. It begins with elders in the community donating their own cows to the fund. The Youth Educational Fund will then partner with supporters who will match the donation based on the value of the cows contributed by the community.

In August 2012, Sheldon Levy, the president of Ryerson University received a cow (aka ENKITENG in Maa, the native language) from the Lesancha family in recognition of the supportive role Ryerson University has played in Teriano’s education. He graciously made the first donation towards the fund, a gesture that was reciprocated by elders in the community who were motivated by his generosity. Teriano believes that this cow presents an opportunity to engage her community to support the education of their young people. By incorporating her entrepreneurial spirit of buying and selling cows to invest in the scholarship fund, education will be made a reality for the rest of her community starting with Sheldon’s cow.

The Youth Educational Fund began with Sheldon’s donation of one cow. Community elders are continuing to donate cows into the fund. Additionally, they will invest in more livestock, buying them during dry season at a low cost. The current cost of purchasing a cow in Kenya is approximately $400.00. YEF will be able to sell the cows four to six months later for $700 each. The goal is for the fund to raise at least 20 cows per year, which equals approximately 1,000,000.00 Kenyan Shillings per year. Part of the profit is invested in the YEF (to send approximately 3 boys and girls to school every year) and the rest deposited in the bank to be used in other projects within the community. In conjunction with the beadwork project, the long term objective is to ultimately have part of the beadwork proceeds also contributed towards the education fund. In this way, money flows resourcefully within and throughout the community. That will allow about 30 girls and boys to continue school every year.

Furthermore, money made from the sale of milk will be put towards education expenses such as school supplies, uniforms, and transportation. To address the issue of early marriage, part of the cows donated into the fund will be given to families with girls between the ages of 8 and 13 in lieu of the dowry payment they would have received in their daughters’ impending marriage. This will allow the girls to continue with their education as well as facilitate economic survival for the parents. The community has received this idea with much enthusiasm after seeing this entrepreneurial enterprise work for Teriano. They are actively and devotedly engaged in the hopes of making this happen for the boys and girls of Loodariak.

The main purpose of the Youth Educational Fund will be to make education more accessible for Loodariak’s children and youth who demonstrate the most need. The fund will determine the recipients of this assistance, through preset criteria including marks and dedication of the family in providing an environment conducive to the learning of the exchange students. The criteria will help ensure the successful transition of a recipient throughout all levels of their education and will help guarantee that recipients assisted through this program serve as role models to their peers and future students.