Zuri Watoto Wote

Pastoral Community Development Association

Posted in Giving back, KEST Women4Women, poverty in Kenya by Lynn Ouellette on 01/28/2012

Maasai woman and her baby

This trip just keeps on being amazing! We have spent much of the last 2 days in a Maasai Village working with the PCDA (Pastoral Community Development Association).  The drive there was quite beautiful as we drove beside the Ngong Hills and down into the Rift Valley. KEST became involved with this program rather serendipitously when Lloydie and Karen who was a fellow KEST volunteer with me in 2010 sat beside Philip the director on a long flight a year or so ago. Maasai communities are struggling to maintain their traditional culture of being semi nomadic despite pressures from the government to be more sedentary and obstacles from the environment such as drought. It is a male dominated culture in which the males are herdsmen and the women build the houses, cook, take care of the children, etc. Houses are made of sticks thatching and mud and cow dung covered walls. All children going to school such as the one that we visited in this village is a relatively modern phenomenon which is not a usual part of all Maasai culture. The goal of KEST’s involvement is to help with the school program development, to support the school lunch program (which may provide the only daily meal for some of the children) and to assist the women in selling their crafts through the Women4Women Initiative.

View of the Great Rift Valley

Friday we were at the school in the Maasai village and focused our time with the children. They were unbelievably cute! This involved singing, reading books, and crafts projects some of which built on previous lessons that they had learned from other KEST volunteers. As my assigned job, I got to rove back and forth between the two classrooms and help the children where help was needed and to take photos (much more fun than work). After the classroom work was done we went outside where the children got temporary tattoos from Kristen and face paint from Deb and me. Since there were so many children we were aiming to just paint one thing on one cheek and did butterflies, flowers and such on the girls and birds, turtles and oops….snakes on the boys. We learned that the snakes were a really bad idea when we discovered them wiping them off because they are quite afraid of snakes—a cultural faux pas which we rectified with “do-over’s”. The children were very enthusiastic learners, very well behaved, and seemed to really enjoy having us around. For those of you who gave me monetary donations, some will go to help with purchasing food to keep the stock of supplies (maize flour, oil, powdered milk and sugar) necessary to make daily porridge for the school lunch program.

Maasai Children in the School yard

Maasai Children at school

Kristen reading an Eric Carle book to the children

Watch and hear the children sing BELOW:

On Saturday we went to the homes of the families and each was assigned to help a Momma with the daily chores (except for Walter who got to sharpen his herding skills!) I went off with Jane and was assisted by Helen a lovely 13 year old who could speak English very well. After going inside the very hot and dark hut we made a fire and made chai from milk, sugar and loose tea. We talked a lot over tea and translations and Jane gave me a Maasai name that I have no idea how to spell and it took me many tries to learn how to say. It sounds like this—Nasorrrwah with the r’s being rolled a bit and it means “one who gives” in Maa (Maasai language) I thought it was rather a sweet name though in the course of my practicing my emphasis was bit off…and so was my pronunciation which had Jane’s nine year old Joy rolling with laughter and together we all had a fun time with it. Helen, who I actually the daughter of Jane’s neighbor loved to take pictures and did quite a good job, she took pictures of me doing the dishes and then she took me outside to see the baby goats,. She said to me “You catch a kid and I will take your photo.”  Well, they are not that easy to catch and they move a lot faster than you might think, so she had to catch one for me (SHE made it look easy).  That was good for quite a few laughs. Finally she did take my picture with the baby goat and the little boy Morris looking on.

The babyy goat and Morris and me

She then took some pictures with Jane and me and her mother with beautiful Maasai jewelry on. When it came time to leave Jane actually gave me a bracelet and a beautiful necklace which I will treasure.

Jane and me

Kristen and Lynne, Mzungu Maasais

In the afternoon we met with the women who do crafts which largely involve some kind of very fine beading. They were seated beside the road under a tree; all dressed in beautiful brightly colored clothing and traditional jewelry with their ware spread out on beautiful cloth. It was like this spectacular patch of bright colors in an otherwise nearly monochromatic sea of muted green.

PCDA Craft Women

Deb and her Maasai Friend

Lloydie explained the Women4Women Initiative with help of Philip as translator. We talked about their crafts and mingled and enjoyed seeing the work that they had done which had many reflections of the culture contained within it. Before our departure they sang us a song….of course. It was a great couple of days of cultural exchange, building relationships, and making a committment to help this struggling community in an ongoing way.

2 Responses

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  1. sharon Tardiff said, on 01/29/2012 at 7:31 am

    Hello. The picture of mother and her baby caught me off guard. Don’t know why………perhaps the baby looked so peaceful in mothers’ arms or something else. I can’t put it into words. The other pictures say it all. The children are so egar to learn, or at least it looks like that. The picture with Lynn holding the goat is cute. The jewelry is beautiful and it must take lots of work to make it, plus all the other stuff they have to do to survive. Thanks for sharing your journey and pictures. Stay happy and safe. Sharon

    Like

    • Lynn Ouellette said, on 02/05/2012 at 11:30 am

      We are back from Nyumbani Village now. Blogging or anything related to the internet was such a challenge from there as the connection was nearly impossible to maintain and incredibly slow when I did have it. All is well and the trip has been amazing!

      Like


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