The Maasai Field Guide Training Program (MFGTP) is a community education program located in rural Kenya and designed at the request of community activists to preserve their cultural heritage and environment through training and certifying Maasai Field Guides. It is part of MERC’s pioneering initiative to reform the tourism industry in Kenya and to end its discriminative, exploitative and unsustainable practices.
The Tourism Cares grant supported this unique program in 2007 and we are currently seeking funding to increase the program at the request of community members. The MFGTP emphasizes the natural history and ecology of Maasailand as interpreted by indigenous Maasai in partnership with outside conservationists. This innovative program initiated by the students of Prescott College represents a sustainable model, as it assists the Maasai in gaining employment in the eco-tourism industry. Program curriculum and guide certification standards were developed with collaboration among Maasai communities, the Kenya Ministry of Tourism, Prescott College, and the Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition. Maasai community-based certification and schooling program to train tour guides will be established; the professionalization of Maasai graduates will enable them to train future generations. Since its inception, MFGTP has produced over 20 highly qualified guides, most of whom are now working in the lodges and tented camps in Maasai Mara. They are effectively representing Maasai people in an industry known for misinforming visitors about our culture, beliefs, and aspirations.
In 2016, Maasai Field Guides publicly launched a labor organization, the Mara Guides Association (MGA), which has succeeded with the support of MERC and the MFGTP. Find more information about the MGA at their website.
The members of the MGA are organizing to promote cultural survival through Maasai inclusion into tourism industry that takes place on their land. They work together to share economic opportunity and to promote a sustainable future for the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
MERC is working to expand field guide training to support the membership of the MGA. Additionally, all MERC safaris directly support MGA members and other community projects.