In this episode I interview Lepilali Ngoilenya as we travel to the East African country of Tanzania where he was born and raised and currently resides. Lepilali shares with us the life he was expected to live as a member of the Maasai tribe, a small tribe that inhabits areas in East Africa, and how he instead chose to pave a different path for himself and pursue an education. He also shares with us the problems that girls and women face in his community with female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage and the non-existent support for a woman’s rights to an education. Lepilali credits his progress to the Asante Africa Foundation which helped him significantly by providing him with scholarships that paid his school fees. The foundation teaches a core principle of “paying it forward” and Lepilali has taken it upon himself to make changes in his community’s current cultural traditions including FGM, and child marriage. He also feels passionately about helping children pursue an education and to expose them to what the world has to offer outside of the life they have known in the Maasai tribe. Through Lepilali’s’ educational and dream mapping programs, he came across a special boy named Meleji Lawasare.
This interview shares the true story behind the plights of Meleji Lawasare, an African albino boy who was 8 years old when Lepilali met him and was in a very sick and demoralized state. African belief in East African areas is that those born with albinism is a sign of a curse and therefore these individuals are usually neglected, shunned or persecuted. Meleji was no exception and Lepilali witnessed first hand the rejection and neglect Meleji had to experience from his father and community. Lepilali shares how he stepped in to help Meleji recieve the support he needed to get medical aid and education. However, Meleji needs more help for treatment of his kyphosis, failing eye vision, and skin condition and Lepilali cannot finance these needs since he is also a student and has few reserves. Relentless Minds has teamed up with Lepilali to raise donations to support Meleji’s treatment and to show him that there are people who care about him and want to see him thrive.