NAME Emmanuel Leina Tasur
BORN Transmara, Kenya
PEACE PROJECT The Siruo Aula Academy
A remarkable man, Emmanuel works tirelessly to improve the quality and accessibility of education to children in Transmara District. From the ground up, he has built and is Director of Sirua Aulo Academy, the only centrally located, fully staffed primary and secondary boarding school in Transmara.
Born in Transmara, Emmanuel is one of the only people in the district with a college degree. Softening tensions between tribes in his community, he began construction on Sirua Aul0 Academy in 2007. One Maasai elder says of Emmanuel, “Emmanuel is a light. If only we could have a thousand lights all over our district – all over the country!” Emmanuel, is ensuring just that, developing children’s minds, improving their health, and creating real change for their futures and their family’s futures.
Once a candidate for Member of Parliament and a target of attack during the post-election violence, Emmanuel, founder of his own organization Namunyak Maasai Welfare, his wife Lillian, and his four children are pioneers in education and truly creating a chance for peace in Kenya.
Growing up in a nomadic tribal community has its pros and cons, according to Emmanuel. He gets nostalgic for the days when the child belonged to the community and not just to the individual parents. I grew up herding neighbors cattle, chasing wild animals on the Maasai Mara and truly connecting with the natural environment and her community. Such fluidity in nature and in society embedded in Emmanuel and sense of purpose. His mother, too, was a big influence on him. She always encouraged him and his many siblings to get an education and despite the many challenges he faced in doing so, he did, later becoming the only person in his district with a college degree.
With this achievement came a sense of purpose. So together with his wife Lilian, Emmanuel started Namunyak Maasai Welfare in 2004. Namunyak is a non-profit organization aimed at making “a positive difference in the lives of the indigenous Maasai community and their neighbors, and in the lives of orphans in the region.” It was as a child that Emmanuel, not just saw but experienced firsthand, the lack of access to education. The nearest school to his home was 7 kilometers away on foot, past forests and dangerous wild buffalo. So as Namunyak’s success grew with the help of international donors and volunteers, Emmanuel decided it was time to dream big and do something no one else, not even a government official dared to do: build Transmara’s first and only boys and girls’ boarding school.
And so the Sirua Aulo Academy was born. Just 4 years after founded Namunyak Maasai Welfare, Emmanuel and Lilian opened the doors to the Academy. At first it was 50 students, then 100, then 300, and on a on. As popularity for the school grew, so too has demand to keep up with the graduating students. And so now it’s time to build the high school. Having earned a reputations for excellence, the sky seems to be the limit for this bold leader in Maasailand, determined to create a generation of children that belong to the community and serve the community in kind.
ON THE POST ELECTION VIOLENCE
“I think the politicians drove us into it, the electoral commission drove us into it, and we fed into passions of discrimination over time and you’re expecting it to blow up at any time. So it was a terrible sight, but I think it was also a wake up call – a wake up call that we should do things differently from the way we were doing them before.”
ON WHY HE BUILT THE ACADEMY
“So there are 2 major reasons why I [built Siruo Aula Academy]: 1) the government is not doing it right, and 2) we are 100 years behind from other communities in this country. The Maasai literacy rate in Transmara is 18% compared to 80% of the Kikuyu, for instance.”
ON KENYA’S UNSUNG HEROES
“There are galant people across this republic who have stood like me. There are tons of people who went to their enemies and they were doing good, so I am just one of so many others who were doing great things.”
Emmanuel hosts volunteers on his beautiful property in the rolling hills and flatlands of Transmara. In fact, it was meeting Emmanuel that inspired ACFP director Tyler Batson to begin this film! What might inspire you? Facilitated by Village Volunteers and just outside of the beautiful Maasai Mara Animal Reserve, people of all backgrounds and levels of experience are encouraged to apply and find out!