"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Building Futures, Inc.

Building Futures, Inc.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Friday, December 15, 2017

It’s going to be difficult to top yesterday, but we’re going to try.
We woke up early (5am) because we were starting with a game drive at 6:15am.  The only way to see a rhino is early in the morning before it heads back into the hills.  Breakfast was packed and in the Land Cruiser when we got down to the dining area.  Isaac was there to greet us with the usual smile.  We loaded in the car and were on our way.  It was cool in the morning, and once the car got moving, it felt even colder.  We saw so many animals that I don’t know where to start.  It will probably be easier to just tell you that although we didn’t see a rhino, we saw a lot of other animals.  I’ll post the bulk of the pictures at the end of the blog so you can see what we saw. 
We had breakfast out on the mara, and it was delicious - the scenery was fabulous, too.  We had pancakes, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, coffee, tea, juices… the list goes on and on.  We also took some time to take pictures and fool around a bit.  There’s no shortage when it comes to “fun and entertaining.”  We’ve been laughing a lot.  The two of them make a good team, and they have no problem playing off each other.  Time passes quickly, and soon we were back at the lodge, then the dining room for a light lunch.
lot this trip and the credit for that belongs to Karen and Sam.
No luck with the rhino, but we did see some new animals today.  The lions probably tops that list.
 On our way back to the camp, we stopped in a Masai village.  We stopped outside the fence for them to show Sam and Sergio how they communicate between villages by blowing into an animal horn.  We then entered the compound to see how they make fires.  It wasn't working well, so we moved into one of the huts.  Masai are traditionally tall, and I have no idea how they can live in those homes.  They're made by the women, so the roofs are quite low.  Couple that with the fact that entire hut could fit inside a small American kitchen, it makes for interesting setups.  The reality is that they probably don't spend much time inside at all.  Meals and sleeping... that's probably it.  And trust me, if they're sleeping, it's in the total fetal position.
We went back outside to find them much closer to making fire.  It was a success.  Karen joked, "How
many Masai does it take to make a fire?"  It was a fair question.  The appropriately funny answer would have been, "It takes a village."  There had to be at least a dozen men trying to create a spark by spinning a stick on a piece of wood, and they finally made it happen.  We then moved into another area inside the fence.  Not all compounds have this, but this one is well traveled by tourists so they have their own little Masai Mall.  The women clucked with disapproval when we left empty handed.  I didn't see any familiar faces from previous meetings for the maternity, but regardless, we had to get back for lunch before our meeting at the maternity.  The sun was beating down on us without thought, and everyone had a nice sunburn working so seeking shade inside Isaac's vehicle was nice.
We got back to camp and had a light lunch before heading right back out. 

The meeting was to start at 2, but it was probably closer to 3.  We were the first to arrive, but when the builder showed up, it was time for a tour.  When you’re standing in a room that is under construction, it looks rather small.  I remember standing between unfinished walls staring up the sky thinking, “How is a midwife and pregnant mother going to fit in here?”  Now that it’s finished, I can see it plain as day!  When we stood in the delivery room, one of the men said, “A future president of Kenya will be born here.”  “That would be wonderful!” I exclaimed.  There were lots of thumbs up as we exited.
As the women arrived, you could see the smiles of recognition wash across their face as they 

approached.  Andrea was the most recognizable of the group.  They’d say “Nalatuesha” through wide smiles as they walked toward her with arms wide open.   For those of you that need a refresher, Nah-lah-too-ay-shah means “rain bringer.”  During that trip, they rain arrived the same time we did.  There were familiar faces and unfamiliar ones, reminding me that this maternity serves a large area… I imagine that we’ll never see all of the women this maternity will serve, and I think that’s wonderful!  I wonder if we’ll even meet all of the midwives!  As you would expect, the men arrived and came to me first.  I don’t know if they remember the name that they gave me (Lamangan = lah-mahn-yhan=blessed), but a smile works just as well.  They laughed quietly as they embraced me.  The laughter wasn’t so quiet when they saw Karen, but you’d expect that, too.
Some of the younger men began organizing benches for the ladies to sit on.  The men sat in resin chairs facing them.  The area chief spoke first, followed by the local chief (the village elder).   The area chief translated for us.  Next came the chairman of the maternity board, then Haret (the builder), then Isaac.   I was up next. 
Prior to leaving for this trip, I printed up some large pictures of the ladies that have been attending the meetings.  I had them laminated, and I had a plan for them, but used this opportunity to introduce them into the conversation.   I retold the story of the future president being born here.  That was met with applause.  I said, “Just as it will be important to remember where he came from, it’s important for us to remember how we arrived here, too,” referencing the series of events that led to the construction of this maternity center.  I pulled out the first picture from my first meeting with the villagers.  It was a smaller group comprised of about 15 women.  Then I pulled out the second picture from our trip in July.  This one showed closer to 60 people!  I then suggested that they should be hung in the maternity so that we all remember those responsible for getting us to this stage in development.  They cheered, then passed the 13”x19” pictures among them.    Laughter began to rise above the conversation.  A lot of laughter.  Then Kiswahili and ma’a (the language of the Masai) amid the laughter.  Then a translation from the chief.  Although I never got the impression that they were laughing at me, I would soon be made aware of that fact.  After inspection of the pictures, the one from last year, and the one from 6 months ago, showed that I was wearing the same outfit.  The very same outfit that I had on today!  Oye vay!  Olive pants, light blue shirt, hiking shoes.  It wasn’t like they were similar, it was literally the exact clothing in each picture.  I joined in the laughter and felt compelled to inform them that I do, indeed, own more clothing.  When I told them I was going to throw it all away, they protested.  I have to keep the outfit for the grand opening!  The laughter continued for quite some time until everyone else was in on the joke.  I’m still laughing about it now.  What are the odds?
Andrea spoke next, and although it was brief, it was powerful.  Masai are predominantly Christians, many are Catholic.  She suggested we take a moment to thank our maker who brought us all together.  I do believe that the Holy Spirit guides us from project to project, and this one was no exception.  She then said, “Let us pray the Lord’s prayer together.”  That’s exactly what we did.  With all heads bowed down, she began with “Our Father…”  What followed was the Lord’s prayer said in three different languages.  It was simply beautiful.  Even though we each spoke it in our own tongue, we concluded at virtually the same time.  The following silence was broken by birds chirping, goats, and cowbells. 
Karen spoke next, as only Karen can.  She bounded up to the front of the group, through her hands in the air and yelled “Hello!”  Everyone smiled and clapped… including the village elder who doesn’t speak a lick of English.  Karen can have that effect on people – it’s why she’s going to be a great teacher.  She thanked everyone for taking time out of their day to attend and then introduced Sam.  Sam, who shyly approached the front of the crowd to greet everyone.  It was time for her to get a Masai name.  Naserian.  Nah-she-ree-ahn… accent on the “ree.”  As she returned to her seat, we were informed this means “blessings.”  Karen heard enough.  “Wait a second!” she shouted. “I’ve been here before and I get ‘third born’ and this chick shows up and gets ‘blessings’?  Laughter erupted!  It was hilarious.  I thought the area chief was going to wet his pants.  Again, no translation was needed – if it was coming out of her mouth, it was probably funny.  They should have named her “laughter.”  When the laughter finally broke, the chief clarified that the her name (namgak = nahm-nyak) means “good luck.”  “Oh, okay,” she said, “You can proceed.”  Again, laughter.
He leaned over to me and said, “She should be a politician.”  I said, “She’s a teacher.”  He then said, “So was I once.”  This time we were the ones laughing.  “Seriously,” he continued.
The meeting finally ended while pictures were being passed around.  Another picture was taken out front, then it was time to plant 24 trees.  They were seedlings, so it wasn’t as involved as you think.  I can say that because each of us (including Isaac) planted one before the chiefs and I began talking.  What I was (slightly) unaware of was that Andrea, Karen, Sam and the other women continued to plant the remaining 20 trees.  It was very Masai.  The men stood and talked while the women did all the work.  I played my role by making sure that no lions approached while they worked.  The men are the protectors, and I told them that when they returned.  They were not impressed.  We said our “goodbyes” and returned to camp. 

It was dark when we got back, and everyone was hungry.   Before I forget, if you’re wondering why Sergio wasn’t introduced, it was because he chose to stay behind at camp.  He was there when we returned.  Tonight we had tomato soup and chicken with green beans.  Delicious.  Now, sleep.


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