Vol. 19, #9
I have received news that there is hope of an operation for Enoti, one of eight handicapped Maasai children I take care of here at the mission. Enoti from Olbalbal is six years old and has spinal TB. Her spine is totally twisted and is pressing in on her heart and lungs. She is in first grade at the government school here in Endulen. She has persistent breathing and chest problems. Now Elisa, a pilot with the Flying Medical Service, has arranged for her to be evaluated by a Dutch surgeon in November, who may be able to perform an operation to help her. He and his organization will underwrite the cost of any help they can give her.
Story of Naisimoi…
Naisimoi is happy. She has given birth to a baby girl. Naisimoi, a Maasai girl, attended primary school in Kakesio, a tiny trading center on the edge of the Serengeti. Kakesio has a shop selling ground corn, packets of tea, sugar and cooking oil. There is also a game post and a primary school. Upon finishing grade school, Naisimoi was chosen by her teachers to enter our Osotua Prep School at Endulen. Following long negotiations with the teachers, her uncle reluctantly agreed that she continue her education. Both Naisimoi’s mother and father died when she was very young; her uncle and his wife raised her. After one year of English and Arithmetic at Osotua Prep, Naisimoi elected not to try for a place in Secondary School, but to return home. I felt badly about this but in the end it was her choice. In a very short time she was married and pregnant. Just a few weeks ago she gave birth. Naisimoi gave her little girl a nick name, Kinyi ai, “my little one”. The child will continue to be known by that name till her naming ceremony some three months hence. Naisimoi will allow her hair and that of Kinyi ai to grow during this time. Maasai women and girls normally shave their heads regularly. During this time Naisimoi will do little or no work around the house village. She will be taken care of by the older women and her husband will slaughter goats for her. Naisimoi will be called “entomononi”, “The one who is prayed for”, and will slowly get her strength back after the ordeal of pregnancy and child birth. The prevailing wisdom is that pregnant women should eat as little as possible during pregnancy. This not only makes for thin women as their time to give birth approaches but often very anemic ones.
After a few months have passed, Naisimoi will “Come out of the House,” a euphemism for the day on which both mother and child are shaved and Naisimoi’s little girl will receive her permanent name. On that day the child and mother are blessed. Naisimoi’s husband must look for two black lambs with no scars or other blemishes. These are eaten by the women on different days. The second is called “an ox” and is the one used for the ritual. A strip of hide is cut from the sheep’s right hind leg and Naisimoi will wear it on one of her right hand fingers. A woman and a child will accompany Naisimoi and her infant daughter during the ceremony, godparents in our terms. This woman and child have a special relationship with Naisimoi and Kinyi ai from now on and will remain life long friends of the family. Water is drawn from a spring and as Naisimoi drinks it, a woman leaves the house saying, “The children’s meat is ready; the honey-beer has been brewed”. At this call all the women in the neighborhood come out singing and join in the festivities. Age mates of Naisimoi’s husband and their wives gather around to choose a name for the child. The choosing and blessing of the name is serious business. The name chosen will affect the future life of the person. It must be a “blessed” name, perhaps the name of a rich person or of a highly respected person in the area. After agreement is reached on a name, the child is blessed by the age mates of Naisimoi’s husband and by the women with a sprinkling of milk and honey beer. They might say “May that name live in you and bring you blessing”. The little girl will continue to be called “Kinyi ai” by her mother and family, but to all others, the name that is chosen that day is the child’s name.
The education that Naisimoi has received, although cut short, will be of real help to her and her family. Her outlook has changed, making her more aware of her personal worth and rights, even if those rights receive little recognition within her community. One immediate benefit of her education is that, armed with her knowledge of Swahili and math, she is less likely to be cheated when she goes to buy things at the shops.
Three of our Maasai girls have been accepted into a six month computer skills and English language program at the Baptist College near Arusha. Today, Nanana, Sumbati and Somalian begin their studies. Upon completion of their course, they will be in a much better position to be accepted for a job with Ngorongoro Conservation, Government, or an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization.) Without some computer skills, these positions are hard to get these days.
Today the handicapped team of the diocese is coming to Endulen. Leading the team is one of my Maasai girls, Naado, whom we supported through secondary school and nursing school. She is a registered nurse and mid-wife. Naado and her team work out of a center near Monduli and do outreach throughout MaasaiLand. I have a number of children for Naado to look at today. Kaiyanda, is boy with one leg; the other having been crushed when a cow fell on it. Gangrene totally destroyed the leg and hip joint. Dikaiyai is a seven year old whose hands were burned into tight balled fists. Dikaiyai needs a plastic surgeon. Kinyilai, another boy, is mostly blind, always tripping over everything. I want to ask Naado’s help in finding a special school for him. Since he sees little, he isn’t doing well in first grade here at the government school in Endulen.
Maasai Proverb of the month:
“Meirag te entim olotoishe.”
One who has children will not sleep in the bush.
Till next month…