Improving the future of children and their communities through innovative and culturally relevant approaches to education and development.

ADEA Foundation

ADEA has been active in Tanzania and Kenya through programming and partnerships for over two decades. As a small NGO, its US Director, Douglas McFalls, working with local organizations has helped artisans improve their production and earnings, preserved and promoted local culture through festivals and a museum, and provided formal education for underserved Maasai children by establishing two rural schools. In response to the current student school-performance crisis in Tanzania, our current focus is on developing non-formal school preparedness learning activities that are culturally accessible, innovative, and fun - because kids learn best when they are having fun. Additionally, in response to the COVID-19 food crisis faced by our Kenyan students' families, we are working together to introduce community and kitchen gardens for sustainable food security. As we build these programs and sustain our teams, your 2021 support is needed. Please consider ADEA for one-time or monthly support this holiday season

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HIGHLIGHTS OF 2020

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ADEA Foundation raised enough support to provide food for over 600 Maasai living around our schools whose children were starving due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

When Kenya went into total lockdown, the already-impoverished families around our schools in Kajado were cut off from day work that barely earned enough for a family to eat for a day. As a result, children began to starve, and parents panicked. ADEA raised enough funds to provide food for over 600 of the neediest Maasai for six months, with its partner Pillar of Maasai Development (PMD). Additionally, we paid teachers salaries during the nine months that our Esukuta Primary School remained closed.   Before she received food, she gave her children the false hope of a meal by pretending to cook in the evening - but in truth, she was boiling stones I put stones in a pot and boiled them until the children fell asleep without having eaten. The next morning, I would cook tree roots for the children to drink - Oiguanai Ole Kuna - parent Lemopia Ole Kiulu and his wife would leave the children at home alone because they felt helpless, not able to feed them. It was too hard to see them suffering. - Lemopia Ole Kiulu - parent Your feeding program has rescued his children. I might have lost my grandchildren, but because of you, you maintained their lives. - Lenkai ole Nkaikoni - village elder We are exceedingly grateful to everyone who gave small and large amounts that allowed us to save lives.

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As a result of the COVID-19 food crisis, ADEA has establishing a drought-resistant community garden to model planting and growing crops viably in the region.

The Maasai were traditionally and exclusively cattle herders. Because God granted them the cattle of the earth, they neither hunted nor farmed. For them to engage in these things would have been an insult to God. Though now Christians, this mentality prevailed until the devastating drought of 2009 that left them without cattle and without a means to survive. This resulted in many seeking menial day jobs on local farms. Even so, they have little understanding of farming, nor do they garden at their home. Had they had the most basic home gardens at their bomas (homesteads), they might have better endured the COVID-lockdown.  With this realization, the idea emerged, with the Pillar of Maasai (PMD) teams enthusiasm, of establishing a drought-resistant community garden to model planting what is viable in and suitable for their location. In October 2020, our PMD team of teachers who were out of school planted their first-ever crop of corn, beans, and squash – primarily fertilized with elephant manure.

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Launched in 2019 by our ADEA Tanzania Partners, Jumamosi Poa (JMP), or Cool Saturdays, is
a much-anticipated event at our MaKuYa Museum and Learning Center enjoyed by upwards of 150 children weekly. Encouraging children to think and explore is the goal of the day. Through play, museum conversations, and special guests from the community, children expand the way they view their world and how to understand it. In our museum, we challenge children to consider life-related objects, to learn how they have changed over time, and to wonder why those changes happened. In our Learning Center, young visitors play an ever-increasing number of learning games we are inventing to encourage happy learning. [click to learn more]

Low literacy levels and eagerness to read are a challenge across Africa, most seriously in rural communities. We discovered this crisis in our MaKuYa Learning Center when we challenged the visiting children (and some adults) to write out the alphabet. With the vast majority unable to do so successfully, we developed games to improve alphabet fluency. To expand this learning opportunity beyond our walls, we reimagined our games into the form of a khanga – the most popular textile design of Eastern Africa. Our primary studies proved that our design is popular and those family members of all ages are eager to play our alphabet learning games.

KEY AREAS OF FOCUS FOR 2021

Building on what began in 2020 with merely the alphabet, we have discovered the potential, viability, and logic around educational khangas' (textile) production. When we understood that the foundational goal for young learners is exposure to print, and not necessarily books, a world of opportunity opened for us. We are now pushing our designs beyond just the alphabet and into early readers and foundational math.

Our initial target communities are under-resourced rural populations. In rural areas, traditional paper books face many dangers: water, fire, insects, and dirt. Our textiles will step in with the same content but in a more durable, play-based, and communal manner. We believe our approach to exposing non-readers across Sub-Saharan Africa could have a measurable impact, and we are aiming to find out.

The MaKuYa Cultural Museum and Learning Center in Tanzania, the Maasai farming initiative, and the Esukuta Primary School in Kenya need financial support. They are woefully poor in cash but exceedingly rich in culture and stories of & their & Africa. We believe there is room for an exchange through Social Media: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube – blogs, videos, podcasts, photos, and newsletters. We will share both the tangible and intangible heritage from here, and we will ask you to share your thoughts, questions, and donations with us. We want this to be a fun way to get what we need to renovate our new museum building, continue our museum work, develop children's programming, and keep our farmers farming, among other things, and the donors to feel smarter, happier, and inspired to give toward something that changes lives. So, stay tuned!! And join us on the world wide web!

Providing Emergency Food as well as development opportunities for the Maasai in Rombo, Kenya A drought-related food security crisis in Rombo, Kenya is impacting more than 800 families.These families have no food and nothing is growing. ADEA and it local partner, Pillar of Maasai Development, has been providing rations of beans, corn, oil, and salt to these families since May. We are also taking advantage of this unique opportunity of nearly 1000 women gathering every two/three weeks to teach about issues of literacy, food security through home gardens, and to
discuss issues related to gender inequity, high birthrates, child brides, and empowering women.  Also, they are uplifted in these hard times by group storytelling and singing.

Since our first crop planting in November of 2020, we now have three full-time PMD members working and learning the farming best practices for our location and situation. Mobile phone technology makes frequent contact with Master Gardener Dara Finnegan possible. We can address challenges and questions immediately and regularly. This reduces crop loss due to delayed responses to questions. Additionally, it familiarizes Dara with the unique agricultural and life realities of Rombo, Kenya. We will be experimenting with crops with a higher yield, greater resilience, and higher nutritional value during each planting season. These, over time, will be introducing other Maasai in the region to plants and techniques for growing crops that can benefit their families.

Mentorship is critical for local sustainability and self-reliance. ADEA is using its programming as an opportunity for mentorship. Douglas provides workshops, challenges, travel experiences, and responsibilities of increasing difficulty to help team members become skilled and confident. The best scenario is to have enough funds so that Douglas rarely leaves his desk and instead sends team members out into the field to learn and gain practical experience. All this is so that they can ultimately manage the programs and their development themselves.

KEY AREAS OF FOCUS FOR 2022

Our educational textiles (designed in the spirit of the local khanga fabrics) are earning  praise  from educators and learners.  During 2022 we will be testing and seeking support to fund testing, promoting, and producing our khangas.  Also, we will be working with education specialists and teachers to create  a series of designs to include beginning reading, numeracy, and other subjects to prepare children to enter primary school and non-schooled adults to enjoy the power of learning.

 With an estimated literacy rate of six percent among  the Maasai adults in Rombo, Kenya, we decided to test out our educational textiles (ABC for ALL khangas) with the 1000-plus women who gather at our bi-monthly food distributions. The excitement of the Maasai women when given the opportunity to learn the alphabet and basic spelling was extraordinary.   In their enthusiasm, they have requested to take these alphabet khangas home to teach all the family members to read.  We aim raise the funds needed to print and get an "ABC for ALL" khanga into the homes of all these women and subsequently to observe and measure engagement and impact.   We expect to do similar testing in Mtwara, Tanzania involving primary schools.

With no tradition of growing crops or home gardens, the Maasai of Rombo were caught in crisis during the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020 with nothing to eat.   In response, our local Maasai leadership team rented an acre of ground.  With the help of a USA-based Master Gardener, they successfully learned to plant, cultivate, and harvest corn, beans, and tomatoes.   This year the Maasai team is teaching the local Maasai to use their former animal corrals (empty now because the animals died in a drought) as gardens during the rainy season.  We will add to the list of crops less familiar but faster-growing and higher-yielding vegetables (for example squash.  Home gardening will provide food and income for these families.

During the drought crisis of 2021, over 1000 women have been gathering together. Though initially only to collect food, ADEA with the Pillar of Maasai Development team has been leading them in conversations, initiating learning to read, and teaching them to plant crops at their homes.  The women have been inspired and encouraged during these times together so,  even after food distribution has ended, we intend to continue these gatherings for women seeking change and community. These gatherings will be a platform for women to examine the current challenges they face of being single mothers caring for children while husbands seek work in the city, health, generating income, and issues of gender equity.

Education is critical in helping a child mature into an adult with professional and social options. In 2008 ADEA helped the Maasai of Esukuta establish a primary school where currently over 560 children are enrolled in K-8 classes.  Yet,  due to school fees, not every child of school age in Esukuta is enrolled. Some girls are forced into early marriages because families cannot afford secondary school fees. In 2022 ADEA aims to change this.  Through a child-sponsorship program or other means, we intend to make education available to every child in Esukuta.

"Cool Saturdays" were launched in 2019 at our MaKuYu Cultural Museum and Learning Center in Mtwara, Tanzania, to get kids excited about learning and asking questions.  Each Saturday, 100+ children enjoy our early literacy, geography, and math rooms, along with  creative question-based visits to our cultural museum. Conversations with special guests help them  discover life and work related to the present and past. We plan to continue this weekly tradition into 2022 with the addition of students from the teacher training college and university to let them explore innovative play-based approaches to learning.

ABOUT DOUGLAS MCFALLS

Douglas McFalls

In 1999 Douglas McFalls accepted an invitation to visit missionary friends in Mtwara, Tanzania. His work as a designer drew him to the local artisans. He saw that if they had a better understanding of the tourist buying habits, the artisans could earn more. Always welcoming a creative and cross-cultural challenge, Douglas was hooked. In 2003, he and Tanzanian Philipo Lulale established the Center for African Development through Economics and the Arts (ADEA). What was to be a three-year commitment continues until today.

 

Initiatives

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Beginning with artisan development, Douglas's work has expanded to starting schools, launching festivals, founding a museum, establishing a learning center, arranging emergency food programs, mentoring many, and helping thousands. With the help of individual supporters, other donor sources, and the creative and compassionate power of God, Douglas (along with his team and program partners) has achieved more than he could have ever imagined when he began this adventure two decades ago.

Education

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Douglas' broad education and work has uniquely positioned him for this cross-cultural and creative work. He earned his B.A. from Whitworth College in French with a focus on International Relations. He then worked two years as an international tour guide. He was awarded a Masters in Architecture and a BFA in Interior Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design. And from Michigan State University, he received a certificate of Museum Studies while working toward his Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Non-Formal Learning.

Douglas's international studies included cross-cultural communications coursework, which was invaluable. His intensive studies at the Rhode Island School of Design equipped him with creative problem-solving skills essential in successfully navigating variables of culture, poverty, local business practices, corruption, logistics, access to resources, and markets while working with populations in East Africa.

ADEA Tanzania Partnership

In 2003 Douglas McFalls co-founded the Center for African Development through Economics and the Arts (ADEA) in Mtwara, Tanzania, with Tanzanian Philipo Lulale to focus on artisan development.

2003 - Artisan Development
2008 – 2014 - The MaKuYa Traditional Culture and Performing Arts Festival launched to promote the local performing arts tradition.
2013 -The MaKuYa Cultural Museum was born.
2017 - The MaKuYa Learning Center to address the student struggles in reading, math, and geography.
2019 - Organizations restructured into a formal partnership between ADEA in Tanzania and the ADEA Foundation.
2020 - ABC for All educational textiles designed
2021 - We have exciting plans for the future.

 

Pillar of Maasai Development (PMD) Partnership In Kenya

The Maasai herders of Eastern Africa are possibly the most famous tribe in Africa. The Maasai of Kajado, Kenya, in Mt. Kilimanjaro's eastern shadow, lost the majority of their grazing lands and watering holes to the Tsavo Game Reserves. In the 1990s, they were expelled from these lands. Insufficient land led to overgrazing, and this community's tumble into poverty. In 2003 ADEA was introduced to this community, and our partnership began.

2003 - ADEA's director, Douglas, introduced to the Maasai community of Tipape Loomu
2006 – Established Lemong'o Primary School
2008 – Established Esukuta Primary School
2009 – Supported Emergency school meal program during 2008-2009 drought (95% of cattle lost)
2012 – Ornaments for Hope women's beadwork initiative
2020 – COVID-19 Lockdown Emergency Food Distribution Program
2020 – Teacher Development Program
2020 – Food Security Maasai Small Scale Farming initiative launched.
2021 – COVID-19 Lockdown and Drought Relief Emergency Food