Category Archives: Blog

Child collided with a Leopard

The past few days has seen some horrendous nighttime leopard attacks. In the village within site of the mission, a leopard jumped the thorn bush fence at 11:00 PM and grabbed a small goat of about a month old. A small boy, startled into wakefulness by the bleating of the goatherd, ran out of a house and was bowled over by the leopard on its’ flight to exit the with the baby goat. Aside from being seriously frightened, he was unhurt. The leopard leaped over the thorn bush fence and made off into the bush. A couple warriors startled into wakefulness caught only a fleeting glimpse of the fleeing leopard. Realizing that no effective tracking could be done till the morning, they went back to bed and returned to sleep.

An hour later, amazingly, the leopard was back or was in a different animal, this time to take a sheep. The warriors gathered and although it was a moonless night, they began trying to track the leopard. It was impossible. The moonless night made tracking a hopeless task even for the most adept of the warrior trackers. It was amazing to everyone that the leopard would dare to return the same night after the noise and confusion of the first attack that succeeded. People were thinking that the second attack must have been a different animal.

The next morning, Lesion, led the band of warriors in the hunt for the offend leopard. He was a veteran of many successful skirmishes with the Sukuma warriors who travel to the Ngorongoro and Loliondo areas from the Western side of the Serengeti to raid Maasai herds. The leopard had dragged the second kill deep into the hills above Olbalbal and at midday when the band of warriors caught up with him, the remains of the sheep was hanging over a branch in a tree and the leopard, invisible in his nearby hiding place. On flushing the leopard from his lair in the thing bush, the animal ran off and was not to be seen again.





A month of “a, b, c”

During the month of June, we undertook a program of remedial study for the grade school kids here at Olbalbal. Many of the primary school kids are really weak. There are some in fourth grade that don’t yet know the alphabet. Individual attention by a teacher does not seem exist here. We hoped that a month of more intense study would help that situation.

IMG_1040We chose the weakest ten students in each of the seven grades for our intensive program. During the four weeks of school vacation, there were two sessions each day, beginning at 8:30 each week day morning and ending at 2:00 in the afternoon. There were two “classes”, one for the weakest students and the other for those a little less weak. At eleven o’clock the kids had “uji.” a porridge of maize flour seasoned with some sugar, vegetable oil and salt.

My student Lenkangu, who has just finished his first year of Teacher Training College did the teaching helped by another one of my students, Fabi, who has just finished the first half of her senior year in high school. They concentrated on Swahili and some math with the kids.

Before beginning the program, Lenkangu and Fr. Arkado went to the town of Karatu, some two and a half hours away. They bought bags of corn, sugar, cooking oil, salt and bowls for the “uji”. They also purchased notebooks, pens and pencils for the remedial classes.

Fr. Arkado has raised the money for this project through his friend Dorota in Poland. She works for an insurance company in Warsaw. Her fellow workers contributed the money for the four-week program.

The program was a total success with most of the weak students among the seventy participants making excellent progress. The parents were very happy with the program and showed amazement at the improvement of the reading and writing skills of their sons and daughters. Lenkangu did an excellent job bringing all together. He will make a great teacher. The “uji” program went really well also. Seeing themselves improve so rapidly in their reading and writing skills, a good few of the students expressed their desire to continue the program even after returning for the regular school year. The graduation went well, with the gift of a notebook and ballpoint pen for each student and some further notebooks for those showing the most improvement. The meal of rice and meat topped off the small graduation celebration.

Parents, students and, not least, ourselves are very pleased at the marked improvement in most of the students.



A neighbor died this week. He had been having major stomach pains and swelling for about a week and a half. Some days ago he was taken to a hospital run by Europeans at Karatu, the nearest town two hours away. Then, after a couple of days with no improvement, he was taken to the big hospital in the small city of Arusha, a five-hour drive from here. Again, he did not get better and his condition continued to worsen. Then, afraid that he would die far from home, the family brought him home. He died in great pain a couple of days ago.

Shortly before dying, the man told his brother that he had been poisoned and had no hope of surviving. He related to the brother that he and gone to the Maasai area of Oltepesi to collect a cow that an elder owed him and stayed at a village there. He did not know the people well but simply slept in the house of a member of his age group, as is normal Maasai custom. The woman of the house gave him some maize porridge to eat and shortly he began to have some stomach pains. The doomed man said that he did notice that the woman cooked the “uje” especially for him and cleaned the cooking pot afterwards. No one else in the house ate any of the food that he was given. In fact, he offered one of the children of the house a spoonful of his “uji” and the woman of the house knocked the spoon out of his hand and told the child to go out of the house.

This week also came the news that the police in the town of Mwanza are holding the son of a local Maasai family. He was acting as a night guard at a car repair garage. Thieves broke in and stole some car parts and the police of the robbers arrested the guard, a boy of about 18, as a suspected accomplice. Now word has come to Olbalbal that, although the boy has been cleared of any involvement in the break-in, he will not be released until a bribe of the equivalent of one thousand dollars is paid to the police. His family has few cattle and this news is a mortal blow. They have no way of raising that astronomical amount of money and don’t know what to do.