Vol. 15, #1
A visitor’s view. 18 Feb. 2000.
This edition of the newsletter is from the perspective of a visitor to Endulen – an old friend of Ned’s and his son from the States. We came to help with some medical assistance, and we ended up gaining much more than we could ever contribute.
Many of us have been reading Ned’s newsletter every month with great interest. He describes the life of the Maasai and his school with such vivid stories that we feel like we are living there with him.
Well, I am here with him, and it is both better and worse than you can imagine. It is better, in that Fr. Ned has helped and is helping many, many students from Maasailand to survive and prosper, and they are giving their people a voice in the complicated and difficult world of Tanzania. It is worse in that life here is so much more difficult than I had imagined.
On our first day here, I was talking with an elder in Arusha – and he asked me why I had come. I told him I came to learn what life is like in Tanzania. He told me, “Life is hard”. And he is right, life is hard here. The country is so poor, and unemployment so high, that everyone has to struggle just to survive. It is especially hard out here with the Maasai. People struggle every day just to get firewood, food, and water, let alone obtain health care and an education. The roads are unbelievably bad. Power, water and communications are barely sufficient in the cities, and non existent here in the bush. Medical care is very poor, even in the established hospitals.
On the positive side, Endulen has been a real catalyst for helping the Maasai gain a voice in the government decisions that affect them. Through Ned’s hard work and energy over the years, he is helping to educate the best and the brightest of the Maasai boys and girls. And your help has been essential to making that happen.
While educating the best, he has also picked up the least, giving the Maasai a strong example of the Christian message. He has “adopted” many handicapped children in the area, and helped them to survive and prosper. There is Kayanda, who was trampled by a cow, breaking his hip and leg. His family did not get medical help for quite some time, and by the time they brought him to the hospital, his hip and leg were gangrenous. He smelled so bad that the other patients would not share a room with him. The doctors removed the diseased bone and the leg, and it is amazing that he lived. With that kind of severe handicap, he would never survive as a nomadic herder of cattle. He now has a prostheses that enables him to walk without crutches, but he is a growing and active boy, and it will need to be periodically replaced. He is doing well in school and will have a good future.
I also met Ngume, who lost a leg because of infection. He also has a prothesis, and now he can run and play soccer. His education here will make it possible for him to survive.
When we visited a village for Eucharist on Sunday, the village leaders told Ned about a severely handicapped young man, who could not walk at all. Ned agreed to take him on to see if we can manage him here. He picked him up, carried him in, and visits with him every day. His grandmother came with to make sure he is ok. She seems to love him greatly.
Lememakwa is another young man with a severe limp, who came in first place in Northern Tanzania for grade school completion. He is a very bright young man, who could have a great future, and help his people immensely. The government will pay for him to attend secondary school, but he also needs uniforms, books, and transportation expenses. Ned already supports many students, but he felt he had to add this one. And, as Ned says, he is really a good kid.
As we were sitting on the porch the other evening, a former student stopped by. He said that Ned had helped him finish school, and got him started on his college education. He was extremely grateful. He had returned here to teach, and is now the director of the NGO that is responsible for conservation projects in this area. He lives just down the hill from the school. His is another voice that speaks for the Maasai.
The root problem is that the Maasai run the risk of being reduced to the status of dispossessed people – forever outside the mainstream of this society, with their rights taken from them at every turn. They are now barred from living in the Serengeti, and their water rights are regularly restricted. Most of their territory is either national park or a conservation district.
Fr. Ned’s school and his graduates, and the many students he supports in this area are helping the Maasai gain a voice in the decisions which affect them. Every place we travel in this area, Ned is known, and we meet his students. They have jobs that enable them to help their people. With your help, he has made a significant difference in the history of this people, and in the lives of hundreds of students.
I thank you, on their behalf, and I know Ned thanks you as well.