The latest news from the Warriors’ community Olepolos
It’s the end of the school’s first year, so in traditional Maasai style, it finishes with a closing ceremony. The children entertain us with songs and jumping. The smallest child in school, a four year old, leads the songs, singing loudly and in tune. The Mothers are given a pep talk: Children will be clean. They will not have dreadlocks or non –regulation lines in their hair. Stripy football socks are definitely not allowed. A small boy is held aloft as an example of “what not to wear”
Children singing at the closing ceremony.
We distribute food parcels given by our generous sponsors to every child’s family for Christmas. The mothers bundle the staples of maize flour, rice, chapatti flour, fat, sugar, tea, cabbage and onions into their Maasai blankets to carry home.
It’s raining children!
We must be doing something right. Many people tell us that the school is the best in the area. Actually that’s not very difficult seeing the quality of the others. Word is getting around. We have just 25 vacancies for our entry class next year but receive 90 applications. Now begins the difficult job of identifying the most needy families. So-called ‘free’ government schools in reality costs about £40 per term and are beyond the budget of many in Olepolos. Government school children have to buy their own desk, chair and pay for water, extra tuition, books, paper, cooks etc.
The remit of our school is to educate those who wouldn’t otherwise go to school. Orphans and children of single mothers come first followed by the many from large polygamous families. It’s not hard to imagine why children from a family of 32 (4 wives) will never afford school.
There is a general lack of birth certificates. We insist on seeing every child as some barely out of nappies try to claim a place. The mantra now is “my child is very small for her age but VERY intelligent.”
Left to die with the rubbish
We are glad one particular girl did not slip through the net. She was found in a dustbin in Nairobi when a young baby. Her finder, although extremely poor and single, has looked after her as her own and takes in washing to try to make ends meet. A Scottish school is sponsoring the girl next year. At 6, she has never been able to afford school.
Many Maasai look after children who are not their own.
Many of our intake come from families with no regular work so alarm bells ring when we see the word “businessman” on our application forms.
In fact a business in Olepolos is very small scale and can be the collecting and selling of firewood, medicinal herbs, goat skins, toothbrushes made from twigs, or making charcoal. Charcoal making is now illegal (due to the destruction of trees) and many in the area are much poorer as a result.
A stitch in time……
Maintenance is a dirty word here. Spare a thought for the 90 children on a trip from our neighbouring primary school left stranded at the roadside all night. Of three coaches, two broke down: one clutch, one wheel bearing, both preventable by routine maintenance. The coach company felt repairs could wait till morning.
It’s two years since we built the well and Roger wants to service it. Every mama for miles descends on it today, some with donkeys to supply a whole village, some having walked 8 miles. Roger waits for a lull but they keep coming, keep pumping – why not, the water is plentiful? His Maasai isn’t up to telling them “wait for two hours or go home”. Engulfed by yellow containers and women who won’t budge, his frustration mounts.
No-one understands maintenance. We see water pumps out of service, never to be used again, for want of a bit of time and even less money. Today our own well is maintained with an 80p rubber washer preventing future breakdown. The women, having finally got the message, thank Roger graciously and admire the worn washer.
A snake in the playground
Muyaki, checking the progress of the building work sees the children playing with a cobra. He sprays the perimeter with a deterrent liquid. Note to Governors: Must get some proper outdoor play equipment!
Milk is scarce in November as goats feed their kids so instead of tea with milk at morning break time the school cook serves a drink of Maasai porridge made with water and maize meal. A gift of Scottish porridge, sent by a school in Scotland, causes excitement. The teachers are surprised at how thick it is and debate whether it needs sugar. Salt is considered a step too far.
The Maasai rarely give gifts at Christmas except to the very poor, when presents of clothes, shoes or food are the norm. Many generous supporters have sent us good quality second hand school shoes. It fact we have been overwhelmed by people’s support and at a transport rate to Kenya of around 20 pairs per flight, we have a few more trips’ worth. We will start the campaign again once all pairs are in Olepolos. After this trip, twenty more children have hole-less shoes. Thanks to young and old for collecting the shoes.
As we approach the festive season, here are 3 ways you can help the Charity if you desire:
Double the benefit of any donation by attracting matched funding from other donors on the 6th – 8th December. Details here –www.osiligi.org/wp/double
Stuck for a Christmas gift for your nearest and dearest? How about the gift of education for a Maasai child? We must buy 25 more desks and chairs for our growing children who are moving to class 1 in January. More details here
We have some CD’s of the Warriors’ music for £10 including p&p. If you would like one, please send us a cheque with your name and address etc.
Finally, if you have not ‘liked’ our facebook page, you are only seeing half the picture.
Happy Christmas to all our kind and generous supporters.