Watoto Wote Wazuri

Sad news from Kenya– a reminder that life is precious

Posted in Kenya by Lynn Ouellette on 04/25/2012

Jane and Helen

I received email news earlier this week that one of the women involved with our Tuko Pumoja project had died. We received an email from Philip of PCDA from the Maasai Village where we spent time while in Kenya in January that our Maasai friend Jane had passed away. This was especially hard to hear because we had just been there a short time ago and had spent time with the children at school, in the village, and interacting with the tiny community. In their visit last year Lloydie and Deb had spent time with the women building a “kitchen” (a traditional Maasai style thatched hut with dung walls) and tell an incredible story of carrying the roof down the road from the manyatta (village) to recycle it for the kitchen.

Philip's wife and baby coming from the kitchen

When we were there in January and each of us spent time with one woman in her home or boma, I was welcomed by Jane into her home. We conversed with the help of the neighbor girl Helen who spoke very good English and several children joined us in the merriment as they laughed at me trying to do dishes the Maasai way (with not much water) and trying to properly learn how to say the Maasai name that Jane gave to me ( Nashorrrrwah) with a rolling “r” sound not spoken in English, meaning “one who gives”. I love my Maasai name as I thought that Jane in our brief time had understood something about me.

At one moment Jane took of her bracelets from her wrist and gave it to me as a friendly gesture which I really appreciated. She also suggested that Helen show me the goats which was when I had my experience of trying to “catch a kid” as Helen had instructed me, which was a lot more difficult than she ended up making it look!

Holding Helen's kid with a sweet onlooker

After my kid catching experience, we visited again in the boma, also a traditional thatched structure with dung walls and only a tiny window of a couple of inches to let in a very little light. We all drank HOT chai together made over a fire in the darkened very HOT boma with perspiration on our faces and though I was really hot, I didn’t much mind because we were having fun, chatting and exchanging stories the best we could and it seemed rather magical to be across the world in this different culture yet realizing how we were 2 women who were very much the same in a lot of ways. We all gathered together before leaving the village and when I went to say goodbye to Jane we exchanged hugs and she took one of her beautiful necklaces off her neck and slipped it over my head. Helen wasn’t around at that moment, but we didn’t really need a translator for this interchange…..

Sitting in Jane's (left) home

And so I am thinking about Jane who seemed very young to me and not in any way ill at the time I met her. However, the average life span in Kenya is only 50. She was a lovely warm woman with a nice smile, very welcoming and very generous. And I am thinking of this little village who must be saddened by her loss. I know from Philip that Jane was raising her niece who was away at school in form 2 (second hear of high school) on the day when we were there and that now she has lost her aunt, after losing her father when she 8, her mother when she was 11, her grandmother when she was 13 and her grandmother when she was 15. We are all sad for her and the entire PCDA community. This is a reminder that having connections to people across the world in a different culture only makes the world feel smaller and that life everywhere is fragile and precious.

2 Responses

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  1. Sharon said, on 04/25/2012 at 6:44 pm

    So sorry to hear of your friend Jane’s passing. I suspect that the happy moments and smiles is what she was thinking about as she left this world for another beautiful place. Thanks for sharing your story. “One who gives” is a perfect name for you!


  2. sharon said, on 05/07/2012 at 5:53 am

    So sad…..but deep in my heart I think you meeting her was meant to be. Letting her talk too you and sharing life. Such a gift these women seem too have. A gift most of us will never have.


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