AMSO, or Alailelai Maasai Sustainability Organization, is a community-based organization run by Tanzanians based in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. AMSO runs a variety of programs to improve life for area Maasai in such areas as education, health, business opportunities and goats.
Because it is run by local people who know what their communities need, AMSO’s projects have specific, concrete goals and impacts and are ever expanding. And for the same reason, AMSO strives to achieve this social and economic improvement of their people while maintaining cultural traditions.
Mbekure Metemi, Community Outreach Coordinator
As community outreach coordinator, Mbekure Metemi leads AMSO’s day to day operations. He coordinates all programs, oversees staff, and interfaces with local officials. He ensures that AMSO programs continue to meet community needs and are a fit with Maasai values, culture, and way of life.
Recognizing his potential after he completed his secondary schooling, education officials and friends encouraged Mbekure to pursue rural and wildlife management.
But he had long known he aimed instead to help his fellow Maasai.
“It was my feeling from my heart to study community development,” Mbekure says, of his decision to study at an institute in Ruaha and then to start a machine business.
In 2014 he began working with AMSO and says the goat and loan programs are already improving life for the people of Alailelai.
“Women are now able to do business and acquire basic needs for their children without asking their husbands. We are already elevating people out of poverty,” he says.
Mbekure also values Maasai Partners’ (MP) role in education. Through MP programs, local students receive scholarships, accessing education they could not afford otherwise.
Mbekure lives in the village of Alchaniomelock, juggling MP oversight, family, and livestock responsibilities. In order to give his own three children a better life, he explains, he has chosen to take only one wife. And while his 8-year-old had previously stayed home to help with the goats, Mbekure now plans to sell a cow in order to see that his son gets a good education in Karatu.
Rather than keep all his earnings to himself, Mbekure shares his resources to improve the lives of fellow villagers. He bought large cisterns for water collection for his entire boma, or homestead, giving full and free access to neighbors.
Mbekure says he sees his own impact on his society and will continue to work to help fellow Maasai better themselves and get their “piece of the cake.”
“I need to be very sincere with my community and to donors who give money to help my community. We still have many problems, but I want to make sure that the people can get what they need.”
Lembeu Kitamwas, Goat Program Coordinator
In the eyes of MP Goat Program Coordinator Lembeu Kitamwas, the program has both immediate and long-term impact. He says women who previously relied on others for survival now happily function more independently, while gaining respect from their peers. Women raising the goats are often able to expand and even double their herds, ensuring a source of livelihood into the future.
“I like seeing the women becoming strong—they have real ownership of the goats,” Lembeu says. “They value themselves, and they’re proud to have animals they can pass down to their kids.”
In his position with AMSO, Lembeu works with village officials to determine which women qualify to receive goats. These are typically those who are most vulnerable. He then coordinates all aspects of the goat program. He buys the goats at the large market that takes place twice a month in Karatu. He transports the goats to the village by foot and distributes them fairly to each recipient in an official ceremony.
Lembeu follows up on recipients regularly and tracks goat deaths, births, and sickness. He checks in on the baby animals and oversees medicine distribution. He also provides support for the women when issues arise, such as their husbands trying to sell their goats for alcohol money.
Lembeu has been working with Maasai Partners since 2010, initially as a group coordinator with the loan program. He helped start the goat program in Alailelai. He owns 20 goats, nine cows and six sheep and says he has benefitted personally from his job.
“Several times I spent my salary to buy food for security for my family and bought more animals. In the Maasai community, if you have no animals people don’t respect you.”