Dr. Crystal Courtney
Originally from the UK, Crystal has been working in the Maasai Mara for almost 10 years now. For her undergraduate studies she assessed the environmental impacts of tourism inside the Maasai Mara National Reserve and then for her Masters she examined the definition of ecotourism and the extent to which conservancies conform. For her Ph.D. she went on to investigate how development is defined within the Mara, and the extent to which conservancies contribute. This Ph.D. forms the research basis for all development interventions undertaken by The Maa Trust. For five years she has lived with her partner in a Maasai homestead in Olesere village.
Social Enterprise and Sustainable Livelihoods Manager
Marias originates from the Kiserian area of Maasailand. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree- Finance Option from Kenyatta University. Marias is currently undertaking an MSc. in Agri-Economics at Kenyatta University. He has previously worked as Programme Country Manager for Hope Kenya Foundation and K-rep Development Agency where he helped Maasai communities to develop microfinance saving schemes and small-scale business training. At the trust, Marias oversees the Trust’s finances, with the assistance of Kelvin, and he coordinates the Trust’s Social Enterprises. A large part of this involves ensuring that these projects have the largest impact possible upon their participants by enabling them to meet their greatest needs. This could be more children attending school, or being able to afford alternative cooking fuels.
Maa Beadwork Manager
Resian Letoluo originates from Olkinyei. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree-Human Resource Management Option from Kabarak University and a Post-graduate Diploma in HRM from the College of Human Resource Management but during her time working with Crystal, looking at the relationship between development and conservancies, she discovered that her passion lies working with women in the Mara. As a Maasai woman herself, Resian feels an obligation to use her skills to support and nurture the women of the Mara by giving them new opportunities. In addition to this, Resian takes a leading role in overseeing the trust’s scholarship scheme and is a shining example to these children what they are able to achieve in life. To Resian, her work at the trust is not just a job; it is her vocation in life.
Design and Communications Director
Lorna first came to the Mara as the assistant manager of a safari camp in Olare Motorogi Conservancy, where she worked for four years. During this time her interest in the sustainability of the Maasai communities alongside wildlife developed considerably, until her passion lay more with conservation than with tourism. Lorna worked voluntarily with The Maa Trust to set up the beading groups that became Maa Beadwork and she is both a trustee and works with the team, developing designs, social media presence and customer relations.
Project and Maa Honey Coordinator
Ntimama is the Trust’s longest serving employee and is from the local area. He started working at the trust as a young man and has now been trained in various fields. He is the Coordinator of Maa Honey and is fully trained in Beekeeping and Honey Processing from Baraka Agricultural College in Molo, Kenya. Ntimama is also the Trust’s Projects Coordinator, overseeing infrastructure projects and arranging community meetings. Ntimama is keen to further his education, and the trust is supporting him through his diploma in social work at Maasai Mara University. As part of this diploma, he is working with our Outreach Programme, especially our scholarship children.
Kelvin is the latest addition to the trust’s team. He is assisting Marias with the Trust’s accounts, ensuring the smooth running of finances within each project. Kelvin has recently graduated from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree- Finance Option and we welcome him to the team.
Dig Deep’s Mara Field Officer
Jonathan previously worked as a research assistant for The Maa Trust before moving over to be Dig Deep’s field officer. Although employed by Dig Deep, Jonathan is based at The Maa Trust’s HQ and he is a valuable asset to have around. Jonathan is from Talek and has both a broad and detailed knowledge of local intricacies. We work together with Dig Deep on all of our water and sanitation projects, and Jonathan is the key person on the ground for these tasks. In his personal time he is passionate about water resource management as well as supporting the governing boards of local schools.
Maa Beadwork Coordinator
Rose was initially a member of our Oltiamelatei beading group but once we realised her skill, dedication and passion she was quickly promoted to be Maa Beadwork Coordinator. Rose is a trained pre-school teacher and her love of teaching and supporting others is obvious through her work with our beadwork groups. Once funding has been secured for capacity building within our beading groups, Rose will be a great asset in numeracy and literacy training for beading members. Rose oversees half of our beading groups and satellite workshops, in addition to the workshop at HQ.
Maa Beadwork Coordinator
Simaloi is a trained safari guide, having graduated from Koiyaki Guiding School as well as KWS’s training institute in Naivasha. She is passionate about conservation and we are delighted to have her on board as she is well versed at explaining the critical link between wildlife and beadwork to our Maa Beadwork members. Simaloi oversees the other half of our beading groups and satellite workshops, in addition to overseeing our shop at HQ.
Maa Beadwork Assistant
Elizabeth is a young lady from Ngila, which is very close to our HQ. When we formed new beading groups in this area, we identified her as an ideal candidate for us to train up to support Maa Beadwork. Elizabeth helps prepare beadwork materials before they go to the field, helps finish products once they are back from the field, and assists with packaging. Elizabeth has excelled in these areas and she now also oversees the Motorogi, Olare Orok and Ilbaan beading groups via our mobile outreach unit.
Maa Beadwork Satellite Assistants
Ntiwal, Nawai and Noolkishuru are our three satellite managers. They oversee the Talek, Olesere and Olkuroto areas respectively. Instead of all groups being brought into our central HQ by vehicles, the satellite centres run by these ladies allow us to distribute and collect work more efficiently. Ladies walk to their closest satellite centre to receive work, be trained in different beading skills, ask any questions, and return their finished work. This process is a lot more efficient than our previous system and we hope it will enable us to increase our productivity, which in turn will increase the amount of work that ladies are able to undertake. The satellites are also key for distributing items through our sustainable spending scheme. If ladies spend their income on gas cylinders, for example, refills for these can be arranged through the satellite centres.
Maa Beadwork Leather Workers
Godfrey was our first leather worker and he has since been joined by David and Philip. They each have their specialized skills which together result in a well run machine. Godfrey specializes in producing templates for items and cutting leather; David is a pro on the sewing machine; and Philip has been brought on board to develop our bag range.
Pesi works with half time with our leather team learning the various skills and techniques needed. The rest of his time, Pesi is the Trust’s caretaker. He oversees the smooth running of our HQ, making sure that the termites are kept under control, our rubbish is disposed of in the most environmentally sensitive way possible, that we collect as much water as possible, and that everything is spick and span for guests. After requesting work at the Trust several times, and stressing that he was willing to assist with anything, Pesi began as a casual labourer doing some building work. Unlike many local Maasai youth who struggle with manual labour, Pesi worked hard. As a result, when the construction work finished we found other roles for Pesi and we are training him up as a leather worker. We have also recently sent Pesi on a driving course, which he passed first time and so shortly he will also be able to help us with transportation around the Mara.
Cook and Cleaner
Soit is our cook and cleaner. He previously worked at a local camp but was pleased to take on his new role at the Trust. As well as keeping all staff well fed and watered, Soit looks after any of our guests staying at HQ. When we are all working hard, we really appreciate his mandazi and chai!