Maasai Community Partnership
Sustaining Culture, Educate, Political and Economic Empowerment
We believe that our Indigenous cultures such as the Maasai may hold the key to our planet’s ability to respond to the environmental, economic and social challenges we face as a global community, as they offer perspective developed outside of the western culture.
The Maasai Community Partnership Project is a collaboration between the Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition (MERC), a grassroots umbrella organization of Maasai human rights and conservation efforts, and Prescott College in Arizona, a liberal arts college dedicated to social and environmental justice. The MCPP was created in 2004 by Meitamei Olol Dapash, MERC Executive Director and Mary Poole, Program Coordinator of Cultural and Regional Studies faculty at Prescott College, to support the Maasai community in its efforts to sustain its culture, achieve education, and become politically and economically empowered. It is based in Maasailand, at the MCPP center near Talek in Narok District, and in Prescott and includes many members in Maasailand and Prescott.
The Partnership Project exists to share educational and material resources with the Maasai community to support the work of its leadership and community activisim. These resources include: access to scholarship written about Maasai people; time and skills and money to produce scholarship written by and with Maasai people; access to technology and media that will promote equal representation of Maasai people addressing issues facing their community; and assistance with fundraising and relationship building on behalf of other community priorities such as clean water and schools. The partnership also exists to provide opportunities for Prescott College students to participate in activism led by Indigenous community leadership, to learn from the perspectives of Maasai people, and to be part of grassroots work for social change.
All of our work is driven by a commitment to radical equality and to justice. It is also fueled by a belief that our Indigenous cultures such as the Maasai may hold the key to our planet’s ability to respond to the environmental, economic and social challenges we face as a global community, as they offer perspective developed outside of the western culture.
The MCPP is made up of many Maasai community members and members of the Prescott college community. Some of these include:
Meitamei Olol Dapash
Meitamei is Co-Director of the Maasai Community Partnership Project, and Adjunct Professor at Prescott College in Arizona, U.S. Meitamei was taken to school at a young age from his home commnity in Narok District and has gone on to use his subequent education to advocate for the rights of the Maasai community and fight the degradation of Maasai culture, economy, and environment as a result of the continued policies of land alienation and cultural annihilation by the independent governments of Kenya and Tanzania.
Mary is a Cultural and Regional Studies faculty member at Prescott College teaching in the areas of U.S. history, gender studies, race relations in the U.S., history of East Africa, and Maasai history. Mary has worked in public policy, serving on the staff of the Washington State Senate Ways and Means Committee designing fiscal policy for social service programs. She is the author of The Segregated Origins of Social Security: African Americans and the Welfare State (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2006)
Daniel is Chairman of the Olgulului Group Ranch, which surrounds the Amboseli National Park. He is a long-time activist and Maasai leader working with the Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition and has been working with the Maasai Community Partnership Project since its inception and has built the Prescott College field Stuies program in Amboseli. Daniel has been instrumental in securing many vital resources for the Maasai community, including building primary schools, well projects, and advocating for the return of traditional Maasai lands . He has led efforts to reform tourism in Maasailand for over two decades.
Kaitlin graduated from Prescott College in 2005 with a competence in Education for Community Development. She has been working with the Partnership Project since its inception and is the teaching assistant for the summer field program and the preliminary spring course taught by Meitamei and Mary. She also has worked as a public relations and media consultant and received her MA in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education from the University of Toronto in 2010. Kaitlin is currently an Instructor at Prescott College teaching courses on gender and sexuality studies and power and ethics in knowledge production.
Joseph Ole Kipila
Program Office at the Maasai Education, Research and Conservation Center in Talek. Kipila is a social worker and community activist who has worked with women’s empowerment and environmental conservation.
Joseph Ole Keiwua
Keiwua is the Manager of the Maasai Education, Research and Conservation Center in Talek, and overseer of construction and all facilities operations.
Courtney Osterfelt is the founder and director of the Women’s Empowerment Breakthrough (WEB), an organization that bridges teenage girls in Prescott Arizona with resources and education. WEB is currently collaborating with the Nabolu Girls Centre in Narok, Kenya to help increase the access of Maasai girls to education through scholarships and the construction of a new center to house girls who left their homes in pursuit of education. Courtney is finishing her Masters Degree in Social Activism at Prescott College.
Daniel (Laitaipa) Kaputa
Daniel is a United Nations Peacekeeper and has served tours in Bosnia and Angola. He is currently serving in the Kenyan military. He is an active member of the Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition, and has been working with the Partnership Project since its inception. Kaputa is a recognized Maasai community leader, the logistics director of the field studies program, a rotarian from the Narok North club and is the point-person for the Community Water Project.
Katelyn graduated from Prescott College in 2006 with a competence in Human Development. As an undergraduate Kate founded the non-profit Safe Haven organization to assist women and children in finding housing for their pets while seeking shelter from domestic abuse. She continued to work as the director of Safe Haven until turning it over to Prescott Community members. She was a participant of the pilot Kenya course in the summer of 2005 and has remained involved with the project since that time, returning to Kenya in 2007 to run the Maasai Field Guide Training Program with Alan Whitehead. Kate is currently earning a masters degree in Post-Colonial Social and Cultural Anthropology from the California Institute of
Prescott College Contact Information
220 Grove Avenue
Prescott, Arizona 86301