Touchstone Blog Archive
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
  Making a Difference
An original member of Mission Cliffs, Roger Erickson and his wife went on a photo safari to Kenya and Tanzania in August and September of 2006. They visited nine game reserves and national parks in two African countries. They landed in Nairobi, Kenya on August 26, and headed north on the safari the next day. The second day they visited a Masai village. The village was typical for the Masai in Kenya where the people live in mud and cow dung huts way out in the game reserve far from anyone. They were greeted by the chief of the tribe and his people. The translator for the tribe was Samuel, “little did I know then, that I was to sponsor him in the future”, recalls Roger. He could speak English pretty well and told Roger he was attending secondary school at that time.

They spent several hours in the village and got to learn how the Masai live. They are primarily cattle and goat herders. They subsist mainly on beef from the cows and meat from the goats. They use everything from the cow. They drink the milk and eat the meat, but they also use the cow hides for the covering of their beds, which are made up of twigs lying on the floor. The dung is used to plaster the walls which are also made of twigs weaved together. They also use some of the cow's blood to mix with milk for special ceremonies.

The men of the tribe are all fairly tall, around six feet, and are very slender. Probably would make great climbers. The women are also very slender and athletic looking. The women do all of the cooking, house keeping, rearing the children and even build the round huts that the family lives in. The men are responsible for providing the food and protection of the tribe. These people get by on practically nothing. Their huts have no heat, water, lighting or plumbing as we know it. They have to travel about a mile to the river to get water and they cook over fires made primarily from dried dung. Toilet facilities are the nearest bush several yards away from the village compound. The village is surrounded by woven together brush to keep wild animals like lions, etc. from entering.

There tribal dress is very colorful. They use the color red a lot because lions don't like it. Both the men and women wear sort of a sari. They all usually wear no shoes. “It's a tough life style to say the least. Makes me think how lucky we are in our society. Everything we throw away they would love to have. The Masai are very friendly and courteous people. They are very humble and thankful for anything they receive.” Roger recounts.

In February, Roger received a call one morning while having breakfast. It was his friend Samuel. He asked Roger if it would be possible to put together a sponsorship for him in Hotel and Catering Management at Zetech College in Nairobi, Kenya. He was surprised to say the least. So, Roger then went on the internet and looked up the school to find out if it was legitimate. “I have a Canadian friend that lived in Kenya for over ten years and I called him to find out how to help Samuel and to make sure I wasn't the victim of a scam. My friend told me to contact the college directly and find out if Samuel has indeed applied to enroll and what the costs would be.” says Roger. They emailed him the information and a bank account for the school that would handle the funds. “The school is very strict and only dispenses the money with my consent. One doesn't like to be distrustful but you also have to be careful. There are ripoff artists all over the world.” says, Roger.

Everything worked out fine and Samuel is now living in a college hostel in Nairobi and attending classes. He emails Roger everyday and calls often by using an internet phone service. “He likes what he is studying and is to say the least, extremely grateful for the opportunity to receive an education. He will be the first in his tribe to ever attend college.” says Roger.

We asked Roger how it changed his life, “I think that when I visited these people in their own environment and saw what they didn't have or probably never will have, it made a deep impression on me. I thought if I could assist in the education of one of their tribe that at least one of them would have a chance to break out of the circle of poverty. This young man, he is twenty one, is very motivated and doesn't have to be asked to study. He is studying very hard. They attend classes eight hours a day, five days a week. He should be able to get a good job in the hospitality industry after graduating from this two year course. Tourism is big in Kenya and getting larger all the time, so his education will give him a great advantage.”

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