I first met the troupe in 2003 at the Suffolk County Show, where my young son Oliver jumped with one of the Warriors, Tumpes. In that time I travelled to Africa but never thought I would see the troupe again. However fate played a hand when I heard about the Osiligi Maasai Warrior Troupe being in Exning Suffolk, so along with son Oliver we went to meet the troupe and took photos taken in 2003 to give to Tumpes. I met there the indomitable John Curtin and found out about the troupe and the charity and vowed to help. That year (2010) we both did the sponsored walk around Ely with Tumpes and Simon in full Maasai dress, we got some very strange looks from the drove fishermen. And it was there I met Helen and Roger and the rest they say is history!
I started sponsoring a child and also when the troupe were in East Anglia helped ferry them around. I have always kept in close contact with Helen and Roger so when they asked me if I could help Helen with updating sponsors about their child, I was delighted. It was agreed that I needed to get to Kenya ASAP and so I came here for twelve days in November 2015 and what a twelve days. Some of our escapades included being stuck in the mud after very heavy rains and a 11 hr flight, photographing and in some cases videoing every child, opening and sorting all the parcels kindly bought by ship to Mombassa, Roger installing a new water system, Helen interviewing for a new teacher and a very memorable closing ceremony attended by all the children who I again tried to photograph as most were in their Maasai dress. Roger intends to set up a separate closed Facebook page for sponsors where we can all put things on. I will post some videos and photos on there which hopefully you will enjoy.
So what do you need to know about Kenya?
Well you don’t need malaria tablets in the school area of Kenya.
You should bring wellies if you come in the rainy season it’s very wet now and slippery but dries up incredibly quickly and the rivers are still empty.
Richard Tajeu’s guest house is lovely; this trip Roger fixed solar panels so the last two days of the trip we had electricity in one room. No hot water though.
Bring earplugs if you visit as the wind, rain, dogs and cockerels are very noisy.
Bring mossie stuff to keep the fleas away as unfortunately all the animals are covered.
If you don’t like vegetables (like me) then you may struggle. They also have goat sometimes but it is very very tough. Bang went my no carb diet!
If you want to visit a boma or tin house then if the ladies are present they will give you some very sweet tea so it is useful to take loose leaf tea with you or biscuits as a gift.
Maasailand is a special place, divided up now into small pieces for each family, the cattle, goats and sheep still roam looking for food like they have for thousands of years. Unfortunately the soil has eroded and is very rocky and years of drought have taken their toll.
Every Maasai person I met were very warm and welcoming, it seems like a cliche to say it but they treat every child as their child, they scold them and care for them all.
The majority of the community are very poor with some still living in traditional bomas made of cow dung and some have tin huts. They are all very dark hot and smoky.
The school is fabulous, the noise of constant chattering and laughter is brilliant . The class sizes are small and the ages and sizes of the children vary so much. If you look at some of pictures I will post and the videos you will see how they are dressed, most have ruined their school jumpers by thorns and chewing the cuffs, just like they do here.
Most children depend on the porridge drink for breakfast and the hot meal at lunchtime as their only meal of the day. I worry how they will get on during the school holidays but when we left it was still raining and the surrounding area was starting to green up which is good news for the animals.
The Rift Valley is a stunning but harsh environment. Rocky, thorny acacia trees and dust.
As for animals well I saw a dead hyena on the road? Rock hyrax in the rocks (where else) and lots of cows, sheep, goats and noisy birds, including very noisy cockerels!
The closing ceremony was brilliant and I will post photos on the new Facebook page.
Roger and Helen and initially John Curtins dreams have been realised, the school, staff and pupils are fantastic. I am so proud to be a small part if this charity and look forward to the next chapter…