Vol. 21, #10
Christmas here was dramatic only because of the continuing heavy unseasonable rains resulting in mud, lots of it. I have gotten badly bogged down a couple of times with hours of digging to free the land cruiser from the ubiquitous black sticky muck.
The day after Christmas I was called to the aid of a young boy on the edge of the Serengeti some two hours drive from Endulen. He and his friends were herding their cattle and playing at lion hunting with their spears. The game ended with one of the boys speared in the chest. I brought him to the hospital here at Endulen and the next day the Flying Medical Service of Pat Patton air lifted him to the referral hospital for surgery. We have not heard how he is doing.
Kusiande EnOleNdango just graduated from Teacher Training College. She will take up her first teaching post in a couple of weeks. Kusiande writes:
I am a Maasai woman of Ngorongoro. Here are my thoughts as I go to begin teaching Maasai children at my first posting as a Maasai teacher.
Generally Maasai parents do not want their children to go to school. They believe that schooling has no value and that it interferes with learning the important things in life, like the whole range of knowledge necessary for the care and pasturing of cattle, goats and sheep. Parents say also that attendance at school often makes difficult or impossible a childs participation in the rhythm of celebrations, ceremonies, and rites of passage that are so important to becoming a knowledgeable Maasai adult. Parents agree somewhat more easily to their boys going to school because they have seen many young men get good paying jobs and are able to help their families in various ways. On the contrary, they see an educated girl as being of benefit only to her future husband and that she will be of little or no help to her father and mother. Moreover, the immediate help she might provide in the form of bride wealth is a compelling reason to seek every avenue to prevent her from attending more than a few years of primary school or better yet, seeing that she not go to school at all. Parents often prevent the children from attending classes. Kids are often kept home so that they can help with the work including, for the boys, taking the family herd to pasture, and for the girls, going for firewood and water, and caring for the younger children.
Teachers too are often obstacles to Maasai students profiting from their time in school. In Maasai country there is frequently little access to medical treatment and travel is difficult making food and other necessities hard to get. There is little incentive in Maasailand for teachers to work at being good teachers. About the only motivation teachers experience is the often haphazard efforts of the education department to check on them. Teachers frequently take the attitude that if the parents do not care about the education of their kids, why should we.
Many children themselves acquire a bad attitude toward school because they are told by their parents that it will be a very bad thing to pass grade seven and thus get a place in secondary school. Often they are even strongly forbidden by their parents to pass. Thus some children become frightened of school in fear of their parents.
As I begin my career as teacher and prepare to travel to my first posting as a Maasai teacher among my people, I want to focus on the following things.
Firstly, I want to build a good relationship with the parents of my students so that through conversations and meetings they will come to understand that entrance into secondary school for their child will not be a family disaster but help for the family and the Maasai community. To this end, it will be important for me to convince parents that the children must attend school each school day.
Secondly, I need to work with the children themselves, showing them how education can bring them a better life for themselves and their families. Already, we have many examples where this has happened. I myself am an example of a person who has already personally profited by my education. I have already been able to be of help to my mother and father, and will be even more so in the future.
Thirdly, I want to find help for deserving students for school fees and other expenses so they can take advantage of being chosen to continue their education in secondary school.
Lastly, we need more schools in Maasai country, especially primary schools. In numerous places children have no chance to go to school, because the schools we have are so far away. Having to walk miles and miles to school is often the reason children do not come to school every day.
In the New Year, I begin my career as a teacher. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers.
As we commence the New Year of 2007…
In 2006 our Osotua Maasai Education program supported 69 Maasai children in secondary and technical schools, 33 girls and 36 boys. In the New Year well be adding about 20 more. So far we have accepted 9 girls and 8 boys into the program.
Till next month,