Zuri Watoto Wote

Through the Rift Valley to see the Maasai Community

Through the Rift Valley to see the Maasai Community

The Maasai Chief, Philip the Director of PCDA and KEST workers pose for a photo in front of the Rift Valley

We have been with the Maasai community of PCDA (Pastoral Care Development Alliance) for the past two days: we have loved and taught their children (and they have taught us), heard of their challenges and tried to help with some of them, sung and dance with beautiful Mommas and bought their goods, “broken bread” together and had a wonderful time of getting to know each other better.

The ride to Kiserian and beyond to their community was rich with culture and beauty as we drove to the opposite side of the Ngong hills (remember in” Out of Africa” Karen Blixen says, “I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills…”) with views of the Rift Valley. We met Philip and his assistant Kristen in Kiserian where we picked them up to drive with us to the community. We had already previously met with Philip one evening a couple of nights earlier to discuss the needs of the community and how best to support them.

Philip, Director of PCDA and his assistant Kristen

Philip, Director of PCDA and his assistant Christine

views

The drive to PCDA

the Maassai school

The Maassai school

When we arrived at the school the children were all outside waiting for us with plenty of excitement and enthusiasm and then swarmed to greet us after we first drove by to use the facilities which were a little more welcoming (remember ALL is relative in Kenya) at the nearby church!

Maasai Children waving as we arrive

Maasai Children waving as we arrive

Greetings from the Maasai children

Greetings from the Maasai children

latrine

Sarah and Jill’s introduction to a pit toilet 🙂

Before we actually got to spend time with the children, we met with the chief and various other leaders of the PCDA community about our plans to offer support and to learn more about some of the challenges that the community is facing. One of their biggest challenges is adequate water since they are pastoralists and rely on having herd animals as a constant source of milk and meat which are their main dietary components. Currently their only reliable source of water is that which is piped into the community from a bore hole owned by a company which charges them by the liter and it is very expensive, The overarching challenge is poverty so having to pay for water is a huge expense. Since KEST has been involved they have been able to make improvements in their school such that they are not far from becoming a government accredited school which will offer them some federal funding and relieve some of the financial burden of running the school. They are very determined to properly educate their children and one very articulate woman got up and spoke about how the key to educating a community is educating a child and that her dream is that someday the Maasai women will achieve the equality that white women have achieved. The traditional Maasai Culture is very patriarchal, but they are working to make some changes such as educating all children, not just boys, and hoping that their children can someday be leaders in the country.

Maasai chief

Maasai chief

We did a number of projects with the children that morning: making fans, making masks, and I took a Polaroid photo of each and everyone of them to take home to their Mommas. I had the very helpful assistance of Karen as the camera was clearly not designed to work that hard all at once, but the children were so thrilled and so patient as they waited their turns. We will make additional photos like these to give to the children in Maine who sent their art work over to this community. While we were finishing up their photos, the rest of the children and the KEST workers and staff had a football (soccer match).

One child showing his photo with its "frame"

One child showing his photo with its “frame”

With their masks!

With their masks!

Maasai children in the classroom

Maasai children in the classroom

The soccer teams

The soccer teams

We joined Philip, the Director, the teachers and staff for lunch under a tree with a wonderful, welcome breeze that offered some relief from the heat. We met a few parents of the children at the school through out the day but also went to the homes of some of the families in the afternoon.

Typical boma or Maasai home

Typical boma or Maasai home

Baby goats are protected from predators inside the boma--I loved petting this one!

Baby goats are protected from predators inside the boma–I loved petting this one!

Deb with Josephine

Deb with Josephine

Having determined what were the most pressing needs of the community that we could try to address, before we left for the afternoon we made a plan to meet Philip in Kiserian again the next morning to shop for school supplies and the ingredients to make porridge. The children were no longer getting lunch at school because there were no supplies for making it. So we shopped for three months worth of porridge supplies and provided the funding to keep it going for the next year and committed to keep it funded in an ongoing way. We also shopped for all the school supplies needed to keep the school going and thanks to one of my generous donors we were able to order gym/sports uniforms for all of the children (Thank you Marie!). When we brought all of these things back to the school there were great expressions of gratitude from staff to parents and the children who just cheered about the sports uniforms! I also presented the art supplies and from the Brunswick, Maine students, but will write about that in a separate post for them.

Karen and one of the PCDA teachers with a bag of maize for porridge

Karen and one of the PCDA teachers with a bag of maize for porridge

In the afternoon we met with the self-help group of PCDA, the Maasai women of Tuko Pamoja. We had the usual business meeting with Jane, who is a nurse in the group and one of several who has excellent English, who was able to translate for the other members. We presented them with the Membership certificate, went over the order, and paid them for the completed items. We also did interviews to get their personal stories of their lives. We had time to visit together, shop from the wares and play with a few children who were there.

Presenting the Tuko Pamoja certificate to PCDA

Presenting the Tuko Pamoja certificate to PCDA

On "onlooker" taking everything in.

On “onlooker” taking everything in.

I enjoyed the Maasai children--especially sweet little Elizabeth who so wanted me to paint her toenails red too!

I enjoyed the Maasai children–especially sweet little Elizabeth who so wanted me to paint her toenails red too!

Before departing we spent time expressing mutual appreciation and in the welcomed cool breeze in the hot sun we all swayed together as the women sang beautiful traditional Maasai music for us under a clear blue sky.

Maasai women in their colorful clothes

Maasai women in their colorful clothes

Tuko Pamoja-PCDA Group Photo

Tuko Pamoja-PCDA Group Photo

We headed back to home base at the Demise Sisters Retreat with a few stops on the agenda–one was a stop to meet the teachers at Philip’s son’s school because now he is in a different school because he has moved into Class 2 (grade 2) and can no longer go the Ororopil Preschool. When we arrived there, much to our surprise and extreme delight, a number of group members recognized this school from the movie, “The First Grader” , which if you haven’t seen I would highly recommend. It is a multi award-winning film which is the true inspiring and touching story of an 84 year-old Kenyan villager and ex Mau Mau freedom fighter, Kimani N’gan’ga Maruge, who fights for his right to go to school for the first time to get the education he could never afford.

Since we had all but one seen the film (although Philip did not know of its existence) and were really touched by it we were thrilled to see the school where it was filmed, meet the teachers who had played a part in the film, learn about the filming process, learn how they taught the children not to look at the camera and paid the children for their participation. Sarah was so excited she was in tears as she sat in Maruge’s desk!

Oleserian Academy--site of filming for "the First Grader"

Oloserian Academy–site of filming for “the First Grader”

Jill as "Maruge'

Jill as “Maruge’

Philip and his son

Philip and his son

The very cute children of Oloserian Academy

The very cute children of Oloserian Academy

So this was unexpected surprise, one of many that has occurred in our travels full of magical moments. I am finishing up this post at the end of the day of the First Annual Tuko Pamoja Workshop for Women (I am behind on blogging because I have a nasty cold and there is only so much you can fit into a day!) But stay tuned, because THIS day, the workshop, was pure magic!

Sign at the turn before the Oloserian Academy

Sign at the turn before the Oloserian Academy

7 Responses

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  1. Kristin Forsythe said, on 01/26/2013 at 12:27 pm

    Y’all are having a great time I see!! Love seeing Sarah so happy I know she is experiencing so much! Thanks for the great pictures !!! Love that u got her in the “pit house”!!!! Send her my love!

    Like

    • Lynn Ouellette said, on 01/26/2013 at 1:22 pm

      She is having a fabulous time! We had a amazing day today with the workshop and Sarah is saying she’ll be back next year. Everybody just loves her and her enthusiasm too so we will be encouraging her to come back. I would LOVE to have her on this trip again next year!
      r

      Like

      • Lloydie said, on 01/26/2013 at 4:55 pm

        Along with Spankie! 🙂

        Like

    • Lloydie said, on 01/26/2013 at 4:59 pm

      Sarah is an amazing addition to the trip! We all love her!

      Like

  2. tonyacoulter said, on 01/27/2013 at 8:06 am

    I can see, hear and feel the way you are making an impact, person to person with so much heart and respect. We are all in a better world for the efforts you all are making. Thank you.

    Like

    • Lynn Ouellette said, on 01/29/2013 at 11:23 am

      Thanks! Its an amazing trip. Especially the work shop with the women just blew me away–that just blew me away!

      Like

  3. Esther said, on 02/20/2013 at 2:04 pm

    So lovely.God bless you for the good work.

    Like


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