Buckingham Friends School Becomes the First Cultural Exchange Group to Visit Maasailand
Buckingham Friends School raised $2,000 toward a SIMOO project to build a $13,000 greenhouse in Olosho-oibor. In June, seven students-- along with BFS chaperone/teachers Kim Troup and Melissa Trice, traveled to the Olosho-Oibor region of Kenya for a ten-day sojourn. Hosted by our Maasai friends, the students and teachers experienced the goal of our mission: an opportunity for a cultural exchange between people and lifestyles. The students who traveled on this powerful journey were Jake Zaren, Scarlett Waldman, Christopher Troup, Isabelle Phillips, Madison Lewis, Ben Kesh, and Aaron Boerner. Students from Buckingham Friends visited Ereteti Primary School. The Eretiti School is the site of the Rotary/McDonnell-Kearney well.
• Second MLK Celebration at Michener Museum
For the second year MCEP returned to the Michener for MLK Day. Children wrote letters and created posters and cutouts to honor Dr. King. Pen Pal letters that Maasai children wrote the previous year were displayed on the walls.
• Phyllis Eckelmeyer Receives Award
March 1 brought the news that Phyllis Eckelmeyer was selected by the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce to receive their 2017 Humanitarian Award. Phyllis founded MCEP in 2004 and has worked diligently for the last 13 years to help the Maasai improve their lives with seven wells, education of over a hundred students from pre-school to University levels, and empowering women. MCEP donors from the USA brought these lifesaving changes to the Maasai. The Central Bucks Chamber honored her and three other Bucks County residents at their biannual celebration held April 7 at Spring Mill Manor in Ivyland, Pennsylvania.
• New Committee member joins MCEP
In July MCEP welcomed Kim Troup of Doylestown. Kim is a teacher at Buckingham Friends School which has partnered with MCEP events in past years. Kim will be taking over the Education Program from Alice Sparks Kim has traveled to Kenya twice, first in 2009 with MCEP members Jennifer Ellsworth and Doreen Stratton. Her second trip was a year later when she accompanied a group of students from Buckingham Friends.
• Drought In Kenya And Throughout East Africa
Francis ole Sakuda has been sending us news reports and e-mails regarding the severe drought in East Africa and how it is affecting his community. The dam that has been used for watering animals has completely dried up. There is now competition between humans and animals for food and water. Wild animals such as baboons and giraffes are now competing with humans for the rare commodities, water and food. Baboons have changed their behavior, open the gates and take our goats, and are feeding on raw meat.”
From John Parsitau a message about the drought:
“I have visited the schools to pay school fees for the MCEP/SIMOO sponsored students and discovered that there is low turnout of children due to the persisting of the drought, but glad that all our sponsored kids have reported to schools. Also during our community meetings regarding the rehabilitation of the Olosho-oibor dam, community members requested for SIMOO to give relief food to the elderly women from the age of 60yrs and above, local pre-schools and the girls’ safe house. This would help in school retention and attendance.”
Along with our education funds, MCEP donations have financed a trough at Christie’s well for the livestock and MCEP has sent any available funds for food relief.
• CONGRATULATIONS TO DANIEL SALAU ROGEI
Our Maasai friend, Daniel Salau Rogei, was honored to receive a scholarship from Carlton University in Ottawa, Canada to pursue his PhD in Anthropology and Climate Change. He resided in Ottawa to complete his first year of studies and returned to Kenya to complete research over the next three years. We wish Daniel the best in his studies.
• The James A. Michener Museum’s children’s program celebrated the 2016 MLK Day with a project of writing letters to children attending school in the Olosho oibor village in Kenya.
• In February, MCEP Committee members Phyllis Eckelmeyer, Alice Sparks and Doreen Stratton traveled to Kenya for a 10-day fact finding visit. Hosted in the village compound of Francis ole Sakuda’s family, they visited schools and toured the green houses and well sites.
• In October Daniel Salau Rogei arrived in Bucks County for a series of presentations regarding improvements to his village. He spoke before the congregation at 2nd Baptist Church of Doylestown and members of the Rotary Club of Doylestown. Daniel was also an invited presenter at the October 14th Delaware Valley University’s Precarious Alliance Environmental Symposium devoted to the environment and climate change.
• During Daniel’s October visit, he visited the James A. Michener Museum’s children’s program, Learning to Look and Listen. Daniel and Mildred Timando spoke to preschool and kindergarten participants about Maasai culture.
Francis ole Sakuda, Daniel Salau Rogei and Mildred Timando were present at the October 16, screening of QUENCH at Delaware Valley College. In addition to speaking at several college classes about their tribe’s culture, they toured the college’s greenhouses.
APRIL, 2014: Two twelve year old Maasai boys and their Maasai teacher were invited to Bucks County to join students from four other countries to attend a two week JEM (Joint Environmental Mission) Program sponsored by Buckingham Friends School. They had much to share and learn about water and environmental issues but they were not able to attend because their visas were delayed by the US embassy. It was very disappointing to everyone.
MAY, 2014: SEVERE DROUGHT PPREDICTION : Francis wrote: "...we are well, but are getting very worried. The long rains failed completely". He compared it to 2009 when the drought was so severe that people sold their emaciated livestock for $1.00 each. He feels this drought might be worse. In the past, the Maasai depended on donations of food and monetary donations. Francis has now formulated a plan that can be implemented to prepare for this year and all future emergencies. It includes "...de-stocking, livestock movement, setting up cow-calf camps. Maasai need to have their own beef market so people will not exploit them. This would mean developing modern facilities for slaughtering and packaging meat and other livestock products." They hope to open emergency boreholes and provide livestock with feed and fodder to breed stock. They have been cutting and storing hay and they are hoping to obtain a dozer so they can make small earth dams.
GREENHOUSES: The greenhouses donated by MCEP have given the Maasai a controlled environment to grow an abundance of vegetables. However, due to strong winds in the Great Rift Valley, the thin plastic material on walls and roofs needed to be replaced with a durable plexiglass type material costing approximately $3,000 per greenhouse alone with the metal poles and the artisan. This project became urgent for food sustainability in light of the predicted drought.
• On Thursday, October 16, 2014, in collaboration with the Cultural Diversity Club at Delaware Valley College, University the Maasai Cultural Exchange Project (MCEP) presented two screenings of QUENCH. The half hour documentary focuses on the lives and culture of the Maasai tribe and their desperate need for water in Maasailand, Kenya, East Africa. Francis ole Sakuda, Daniel Salau Rogei, Maasai leaders who are featured in the film along with Maasai student Mildred Timando Lemaiyan were present for Q&A.
Delaware Valley College University students with the Cultural Diversity Club were the lead sponsors for this community service project. The Cultural Diversity Club, along with raising awareness for global cultures raised funds for clean water and greenhouse projects.
Kenyan National Election
Francis Ole Sakuda ran for governor of Kajiado District. The importance of that election was to gain a voice in the Kenyan government. Maasai representation would have lead to improved infrastructure of roads, electric power lines and wells.
Maasai Cultural Exchange Project (MCEP) sponsors water, education and cultural awareness projects with the Maasai in Kenya.
April 21-May 13 2012
MCEP scheduled cultural awareness events at 50 venues in Bucks County and surrounding areas.
Hosting Maasai members, Francis ole Sakuda, John Sakuda, Daniel Salau Rogei (shown below, Military men outside of Council Rock High School, L-R Daniel, Francis and John).
Grace Suyianta and Susan Naserian attend JEM (Joint Environmental Mission) Conference at Buckingham Friends School to plan a international student exchange for 2014.
MCEP sponsored a fund-raising jewelry sale at Salem United Church of Christ in Doylestown. Shown below from left to right, Susan Neserian, John Sakuda and Grace Salau.
Maasai Cultural Day presenters included (l to r) John Ole Sakuda, Dr. Violet Kulo, Benjamin Gai and Esther Lemaiyan
Engineers Without Borders, Russ Turner(l), Walt Walker (r) John ole Saduka and Phyllis Eckelmeyer
School students at Millcreek Elementary School ask John Ole Saduka questions after their presentation.
Phyllis, Doreen Stratton and Alice Sparks at the 20th International Day, North Penn High School
John ole Sakuda describes life of Maasai children to the students at St. John's School in Ottsville, PA
Pastor Detlef of United Church of Christ, Carversville,Phyllis Eckelmeyer and John ole Saduka
MCEP Education Coordinator, Alice Sparks, visits the Maasai community, February 2011.
Alice & Tom Sparks along with a friend, Tom Kulesza, stayed with Francis Ole Sakuda from Feb. 1 to Feb. 5, 2011 in Francis and Susan’s Maasai home in Kenya. They visited three nursery schools, seven primary schools and one high school. Alice was able to update photos of many of the students sponsored by MCEP donors. Even with the new “feeder” nursery schools, many children still walk 5-10K (3-6 miles) each way. It was observed that some of the schools had no water to cook the maize, so those children could not eat during the day. SIMOO had recently made and delivered desks to one of the schools and measured students for uniforms.
During the four days, they had the opportunity to visit four of the completed wells and saw the huge advantage to having pipeline carry the water in three directions to cisterns 15-20 km. away from the well where it was used for people, animals and drip irrigation for the new greenhouses. The seventh well is now completed. Some of the wells currently have pipeline and cisterns so donations are sought to extend the distribution of water at all wells.
After the wells and greenhouses are established, it is the responsibility of the community to take over the running and maintenance of all the equipment. They charge a small fee for those using the water so that there is money to buy diesel for the generator and any repair work needed. All of the wells were producing water with lines of people and animals waiting their turn in a very orderly way. There were Maasai men in charge of each project who have learned how to care for the equipment.
There are now three greenhouses near Christie’s well each about 8m x 30m (approx. 25 ft. x 100 ft.) with tomato plants in one at various stages of growth. Francis gave the good news that Seattle based “Food for Vision” has offered to match any future greenhouse construction. Starting their own sustainable source of food has been very exciting for the Maasai and they have now adapted ways to deal with the high winds.
Francis and Susan were outstanding hosts and the time Francis took from his busy schedule to drive them to show all of the MCEP projects was greatly appreciated. Their last day was spent in Ngong Hills where they saw SIMOO’s offices and were delighted to see the sewing machine used to make school uniforms and the knitting machine used for the school sweaters. Throughout the visit, the warmth and sincere expressions of welcome and gratitude for the MCEP/SIMOO projects experienced everywhere they went was the most unforgettable part of the trip.
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