Massai in Peril

As we were attending to the needs of the children in Nairobi, we became aware of a tribe of Maasai, the aboriginal people of Africa, who were in distress. A two year drought was killing the cattle, who are the mainstay of their survival. We contacted the chief and asked how we could help. He replied asking us if we could bring some hay for the cattle. I agreed but found it difficult convincing a truck driver to take the shipment to the village as the Maasai are located 6 hours west of Nairobi in the open range with no way to service a vehicle in the event of a break-down. There are no roads by which to navigate and no service stations enroute.

Two days prior to our journey I received a message from the chief that the rains were coming and that the cattle will be fine as the grass will sprout up very quickly. He did request however that we bring flour if we could as the drought had dried up their food supply. We agreed and made an arrangement with a wholesaler to 500 bags of flour. I asked the chief how many people were in the village and he responded that there were about 50. I thought that amount of flour would hold them over for quite a while.

We headed out on the appointed day with a Maasai as our guide. Once the roads disappeared I was most grateful for his directions, as there was no way to find our way otherwise. We travelled through areas where elephants had migrated and saw the massive destruction of their path. As we approached the village we started to see a few of the natives gathering. We were overwhelmed when we pulled into the clearing to find over 1,000 Maasai gathered having heard that “white men” were coming with food. As excited as we were to see them I was somewhat concerned as to how I would satisfy 1,000 people with only 500 sacks of flour. Most of the men were carrying spears and clubs and sticks.

After a brief greeting and celebratory jumping displays, I came up with a plan. I figured that there were probably 500 women and 500 men. I could give each woman a bag of flour if I could only get the men out of the way. In the Maasai culture the man is dominant and therefore and presents would go to the men. As we had also brought blankets I stood on the truck and announced that we had brought presents for all the men. I instructed all the men to come to a clearing where they would receive their gifts. The men were so pleased with the gesture they all left the truck heading for the clearing. With the departure of the men I quickly instructed the women through an interpreter to get into a single file line and we quickly handed a bag of flour to each woman. The next day we gave toys and clothing to the children.