For more than a decade, John Keshe has been working in his home country of Kenya to increase opportunities for girls to complete their education. Keshe and his wife, Paris, founded the Maasai Community Education and Support Program (MCESP) to educate parents on the value of education for girls and provide financial scholarships to Maasai girls so that they can complete their education. The scholarships cover school fees and supplies, the cost of transportation to and from school (because most people live in remote areas), medical expenses, and life skills conferences for the sponsored students.
MCESP partners with a US-based nonprofit organization, Kenya Community Education and Action (KCEA), to raise funds for scholarships and to promote awareness about education for Maasai girls. Currently, KCEA supports seventeen girls in high school and ten girls in primary school.
Keshe is a community leader in the Maasai tribe, one of the most impoverished tribes in East Africa. Traditionally, Maasai girls learn from an early age that their only role is to complete household chores, care for their siblings, and later bear children. Providing a formal education to girls is not a priority in the culture. Instead, most Maasai girls are circumcised and married between the ages of 12 and 14. Given these cultural traditions and the fact that high school is not free in Kenya, only 1 out of 10 Maasai girls who go to school continue their education beyond the sixth grade.
As the only boy in his village to complete high school, Keshe understands the importance of education in elevating people and communities. “I have a strong belief that educational opportunities for women make a significant difference in the lives of women and in the well-being of the whole society,” Keshe says.
Keshe’s dream is to build a high school in his own village so that even more girls have access to secondary education.
CENTERED ON CHRIST
Keshe started his program after God opened his eyes to the enormous need for education among Maasai girls. Keshe’s faith in Jesus and His teachings prompted him to do what he could to give these girls access to a better way of life.
Keshe believes that the freedom education brings mirrors the freedom Jesus-followers have in Christ. Keshe continues to serve, often in difficult circumstances, because of his love for Jesus and others.