Listening to the story from Naha and Esupat
The beautifully illustrated book cover
As an active and passionate advocate of a woman's right to education across the globe, Cherie was fascinated to hear the story of two Maasai girls who had been involved in publishing a very special book.
The Emusoi Centre in Arusha, Tanzania supports girls who have struggled against the traditions of their families and communities in order to get a secondary education. Their book, Emusoi, which was funded by DfID, tells the inspiring but often heart-breaking stories of six Maasai girls. "Emusoi" means "awareness" or "discovery" in Maa, the language of the Maasai.
Two of the girls, Naha and Esupat, travelled from their home in North Tanzania to undertake a three day trip around Europe for the launch of the book. On the 7 October the UK launch took place at Macmillan HQ, after which the girls went to visit Cherie Blair in order to present her with a copy of their special publication.
Mrs Blair, who met the girls through her involvement in the Emusoi Centre's sister project, The Dogodogo Centre Street Children's Trust, invited them for tea at her home in west London. All the illustrations in Emusoi are by one of the Dogodogo boys, Emmanuel.
As an active and passionate advocate of a woman's right to education and economic empowerment, Mrs Blair listened to the girls' accounts of the desperate situation facing their Maasai communities because of climate change, the spread of HIV and Aids, poverty and lack of education. They explained that the survival of their people depends on them going to school.
Naha, who is now in her second year at Arusha Business College studying banking and accountancy, told Cherie Blair that she intends to use her qualifications to help women in her village benefit from Tanzania's growing tourist industry by creating their own businesses selling Maasai jewellery and handcrafts. Esupat, who ran away from home last year to escape an enforced marriage to a stranger the same age as her father, said that she wants to be a lawyer so that she can stand up for her people's rights.
Like its predecessor, Dogodogo, the collection of stories of Tanzanian street kids with a foreword by Cherie Blair, Emusoi is a valuable classroom resource for teaching and learning global citizenship in schools across the developed world. For this reason, the two girls visited Bartholomew School, Witney, and St Ignatius College, Enfield, to tell them about their book and to answer questions about the challenges facing their contemporaries in Africa.
Both titles, published by Macmillan, are available from Amazon.co.uk and Interlink.com (US) at £7.50 each. All royalties go to the two projects.
For more information about the Emusoi Centre or to sponsor an individual Emusoi student, write to Sister Mary at the following e-mail address: email@example.com or visit www.emusoicentre.co.tz
For more information about the Dogodogo Centre, e-mail Sister Jean and her staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.teach-africa.com