Hello May, and just like that we are five months into 2023. I am writing this while in Arusha, Tanzania. I landed here on April 24th and, since then, I have been going around to visit projects and communities that partnered with GPFD over the years in Monduli and Ngorongoro districts.
The Maasai say Ashe Oleng’, and the interplay of words was interesting in comparing their language to that of the Samburu. Whereas the Samburu say Nabo as greeting to the elders to the Maasai, Nabo is the number one. They say Ong’wen when referring to the number four and amongst the Luo, we say Angw’en.
The first three days of my visit involved planning our visit with Mr. Alais Morindat, a renowned conservation and climate change expert who resides in the Arkaria region, and Mr. Paul Lekishon, Communications Lead in the Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC) working with communities in NgoroNgoro District. It was great seeing projects that I only read about and the realization of how vast the regions are here in Tanzania compared to those I’ve closely interacted with in Homabay County in Kenya.
From the Impact Centre in Arkaria, a knowledge and resource hub for the pastoralists around climate change action, range land conservation, and human rights, to the Bomas led and managed by women in Njoroi and Mondorosi villages under the guidance of PWC, one thing was evident: GPFD excels in the way we work with communities and how we forge relationships with them and the local organizations to continue building upon initiatives on their own.
I can’t wait to see what we do next here in Arusha with these communities and our partners because there are new issues to be addressed. It is encouraging to see, for example, the community in Karkamoru whose greatest need is access to education for their children. Seeing the miles of forest coverage, streams, and hills the children cover approximately on a round trip of 24kms to get to school was heartbreaking. The community, however, built a makeshift shack using mud and soft tree poles so those under the age of six can learn near their home and are daily gathering natural resources to build at least a class for the first grade.
If there is one thing I could never get enough of was the sour milk. The Maasai women enjoyed feeding me this in all the places I visited because they couldn’t believe I do not eat red meat. I came during the rainy season and Arusha and Loliondo were very cold, so indulging in a cup of chai and roasted maize was a must.
What I couldn’t believe was that what we call ‘Maharagwe’ in Kenya, here means raw beans while ‘Maharage’ was cooked beans, and our ‘Githeri (a compilation of cooked maize and beans) here is called ‘Makande.’
The highlight was telling Fiti to ‘nyonga’, the delightful PWC Driver-whom I believe could serve their President because no one navigates streams, slippery slopes, and rocks like him. He couldn’t believe that I meant he ought to cut a corner and not actually strangle someone—so there goes me being a total Kenyan.
That’s it for this month’s update and going back to Kenya. It’s now time to finally close out projects and hand them over to communities. I hope I visit Loliondo soon via Narok.
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