The rolling plains of the Maasai Mara in Kenya are home to the famous red-cloaked Maasai people as well as some of the most charismatic animals on earth.
When it became clear COVID-19 would destroy the tourism industry of the Maasai living in the breathtaking Nashulai Nature Conservancy, the tribe petitioned Avaaz, a website connecting local people-powered movements, to try and organize a response call for help.
As a result, 100,000 people raised money to help pay the rangers’ salaries, ensuring that the critical Nashulai elephant migration corridor remained safe from poachers. The money was also enough to secure sanitation and medical supplies and food for the Maasai community there, so they could survive the COVID-19 storm.
About 3,000 people live inside the boundaries of the 6,000-acre conservancy, with another 5,000 living in surrounding communities in traditional Maasai villages where they rely mostly on their cattle for food and money.
In 2016, Nelson Ole Reiyia and Margaret Koshal Reiyia placed a project on Avaaz to turn their home into a Nature Conservancy. “Avaazers” around the world chipped in with hearts and wallets to launch the Nashulai Maasai Conservancy, an innovative way to help the Maasai maintain their traditional way of live in a harmonious way with the land.
The Conservancy created a way to bring outside capital into the community through offering safaris and camping, as well as cultural homestays and other events.
These community programs brought increasing opportunities for education, established greater food and market security, and needed sanitation facilities.
The Maasai are famous warriors, and the conservancy established a mighty force against poachers. Professional rangers and young warriors called “moran” who are trained in bush practices, now serves as “The Warriors for Wildlife Protection”, monitoring the animal populations and protecting against poaching.
The Modern Maasai Facing COVID-19
COVID-19 has put much of this in danger. The tourist infrastructure, which 90% of all the Nashulai Maasai depend on for income, has completely collapsed.
The community library has been repurposed as a storehouse for medical equipment—and rationing of food supplies like cornmeal and cooking oil has begun.
With help from Avaaz they’ve been able to pay the rangers’ salaries, and import much needed medical and sanitary supplies.
“We’ve worked hard to create this unique conservancy, and we want it to be there for the people in their deepest moment of need,” writes Nelson Ole Reiyia on the Nashulai website.
Generous persons can still donate to their COVID-combating activities directly on the website, which are tax deductible contributions for the U.S. and Canada.
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