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March 10, 1977

Dear Mom,

Vince is off to Kenya and Tanzania tomorrow. The road is still closed to the North, so he must first go west and than north by a round about way. You asked about mail in your last letter. It too must come this long way around, so we get it even less often that we did before. The two small packages came with balloons, bandages, tapes, etc., and also the Whole Earth Catalogue, all of which I was very happy to get. I’ve listened to the tapes a number of times already and we are all enjoying the catalogue.

Vince will be spending two or three weeks in Tanzania, visiting and gathering ideas for our own work here. We miss the give and take we had with the Arusha group concerning the work, so his trip will make up for some of that. Then he will spend some time with a group of Italians in Northern Kenya working with the Borana but on the other side of the border from us. They have been there a number of years so we’re expecting to get some help in the way of grammar in the language and some help in understanding the customs and life of the Borona; presumably they should know much more than we do about these things. I will wait myself and go later, hopefully with you people. If that doesn’t work out, perhaps I’ll go by myself toward the end of the year.

The people here are having it very rough. They have fewer cows than the Maasai, and since everything is inherited by the eldest son, there is very poor distribution of the animals they do have. Most of the wealth tends to be concentrated among a limited group. The dry season, which is drawing to an close now (at least that’s what people say), is very hard on them. They depend almost exclusively on maize meal, which is shipped down here from the North. With the road having now been closed for a month and a half, you can figure out what it’s like.

Eef came back cured but with the decision to leave us. He came down for a couple of days to let us know his decision and then went back to Addis. He’s staying with the Christian Brothers there and as far as I can figure has no idea what he will do. I don’t know why he decided to go, only that he has been dissatisfied for quite a while. We’ll begin now to slowly look for someone to take his place.

I will be taking Vince the first two hundred km. tomorrow to a place called Arba Minch, some Irish Holy Ghost fathers are working over there among some farming people. It is situated on the lip of the Rift Valley overlooking a lake (alligators live in it, so I hear). I’ll spend a day or two with them, then back here…

Love,

Ned

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