ROSEMARY NASAA SAKUDA (Mama-Sheila), Director, Ronesa Academy
Rosemary, known as “Mama Sheila” to all her friends and the children, is a primary teacher in the government school of Olosho-Oibor, teaches grades 1-3 and is just a few years away from retirement. She is the founder and director of Ronesa Academy and is the mother of 5 children, and Sho-Sho (grandmother of 5). Her husband died at a young age and left her to raise her 5 children alone, all under the age of 8. She struggled severely, but managed to care for and educate her children.
Even though she struggled to raise her own children, she knew the benefit an education could provide and made sure they received an education so they would have a better life. She now maintains a home where she not only provides work for other Maasai while working her land. In addition, she also provides a safe haven for Maasai girls who are escaping the traditions of early marriage and FGM. While both practices are forbidden, there are still fragments of the society who have yet to change. Rosemary strength and determination through education helps these children find their voice and rise up to demand the same privileges most of us take for granted... the right to an education and to marry when they choose.
Rosemary is fiercely loved by all who know her. She is revered and honored even by the chiefs in the community. She truly has the gift of hospitality and makes all of us visitors quickly feel at home and safe in a drastically foreign land. She loves and cares for us as if we were her own.
The dream to start a school began in her chicken coop 6 years ago. After teaching a full day at the government school, Rosemary would bring 5 kids home with her that she felt needed a little extra help. She would provide tutoring for these children. This led her to start her own little school.
In 2010, Julie lived with Rosemary for 6 weeks while volunteering at her school. Through friendship and exchange of ideas, they decided to launch her school with help from Julie’s school in Littleton, Colorado. This was the beginning of Shaffer Elementary’s sister school in Ngong Hills, Kenya. Rosemary named her school Ronesa Academy, which means, "Caring Community," in their Maa language.
Since the beginning of Ronesa in 2010, Rosemary then donated a portion of her land for the Children's Home that her friends from Littleton, Colorado opened in 2013. There are now 17 beautiful orphans who spend their days at Ronesa and the rest of their time being loved by all those who live on Mama Sheila's property.