Vol. 14, #6
July 19, 1999
One of my girls, only one semester away from graduation from secondary school has run into a major problem with the headmaster at her school. He was determined that she would agree to sleep with him. She wanted no part of his attentions and continued to refuse him. The situation was very delicate because in this country it is the man who is always in the right. I didn’t want to confront him head on because I have three other girls in that school in Form IV who are not being harassed. To accuse him would put the other girls at risk of not finishing secondary school, since he would surely seek revenge against me. After a week of traveling around talking to the head teachers of various schools, I found one that would accept Selina for the final semester of high school (secondary school). It would have been a disaster after all these years that I have been working with her (six years) for her to not be able to finish secondary school with only one semester to go.
Cattle Markets back after Cholera siege:
Our, what has become an annual event, cholera epidemic is over for another year with the end of the rainy season. During cholera season coming together in large crowds is prohibited by the health authorities as a source of spread of the lethal disease. This week we had our first cattle market in some months. Here in Endulen the market is much more that a cattle sale. Everything from spoons to cabbages are available on the clothes spread out on the ground by the vendors, who are both local people and others coming from fifty miles or so to hawk their wares. Multi colored cloth, blankets and beads are much sought after items by the Maasai people as are cooking pots and tin cups. Tents are erected for the day where one can have a meal of meat and rice or eat a roasted goat leg and have few beers with one’s friends. It is a loud, noisy, crazy day where friends meet and share the news since the last market, that in this case was five months ago. It is a place too, where relatives often run into each other having been out of touch for sometimes years.
For a couple of days the people of Endulen had to give a large acacia tree just below the mission a wide birth. A lion had killed a zebra and took two full days over his meal in the shade of the big flat top tree. He was a big old male, alone and very jealous of his turf. Surprisingly hyenas did not come in the night to finish off the carcass so the lion had a full second day to do justice to his meal.
A break in the routine:
Earlier this year, Dutch and American Spiritans working in Tanzania took a week off, high on Mount Kilimanjaro, Our hostesses were the Franciscan sisters. They call their retreat house “Maua”, a Swahili word which in English means “the Flowers”. The name fits. The grounds are a riot of flowers; every color of the rainbow is represented. I recognized roses, dalias, snapdragons, lilies, and there must be hundreds of others. Mawenzi and Kibo, the twin peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, seem very close there. In the crystal clear air of the early morning, it feels as if one could reach out and touch them. The three one story houses containing sleeping rooms and the sitting and dining rooms are on the top of a small hill overlooking a dense gravillia and Eukaliptus forest. At the bottom of the hill is a rushing mountain stream fed by the snows on the mountain hovering above. Wherever one goes on the Maua grounds, there is in the background, the sound of water making its hurried way down the mountain to be drunk by the cattle of the Maasai out on the plains.
Kilimanjaro these days, with its’ thriving Lutheran and Catholic Churches, hundreds of Catholic sisters and hundreds of Catholic priests and Lutheran pastors. It is hard to believe, the Lutherans missionaries and Catholic Spiritan missionaries began evangelizing the Chagga people on the mountain just over a hundred years ago, doing then much the same kind of thing we are doing out on the plains with the Maasai people.
During one of the afternoons, I made my way down the hill to the stream and following its’ meandering way for a couple of hours up into the mountain. As it went higher it became narrower and the trees and brush more and more dense. At one point, I came upon a beautiful small meadow filled with wild flowers bordering on the, at that point, narrow rock strewn stream. I lay down in the grass and only a half hour later did I realize that I’d been asleep for some time. What a terrific place. The only sounds to be heard were the calling of the birds and the rush of water. It was a good week.
Our house is bulging:
We are now Four here in the house at Endulen. Fr. Cyril Chuwa, a Spiritan whose home is on Mount Kilimanjaro spent five years working in Zaire and a few more with the Pukot people of Kenya. He most recently did a two year course in mission studies at Louvaine in Belgium. He has been with us here in Endulen since last November. Mike Jemmitt, a Menninite volunteer from Canada has been here just two weeks, following a three month Swahili language course in Morogoro near Dar-es-Salaam, the capital city of Tanzania. Mike is here to work with our Osotwa Leadership program for Maasai young people. He has many years of secondary school teaching experience. The fourth member of our team is a diocesan seminarian doing his year of pastoral experience here in Endulen. He is a Sonjo by tribe. The Sonjo are a farming people living in the midst of the Maasai here in the North near the Kenya border. Lawrence Ndemaloi is one year from ordination and has made a tremendous contribution to our Endulen community. He often gives the homily here at the church in Endulen and in our outstations and his peppering of his talks with Sonjo stories and legends bring the gospel alive. Lawrence has also taken a great interest in our education program and has started volley ball for the boys and net ball for the girls. He also teaches English to our students.