toward the ledge:

changing the world thru loving and serving others. without agenda


imagine. if you will. if you were born into another life. with no access. to water. to power. to opportunity.

i hope you had a chance to ready about our day in the jipe area.  besides the fascinating tidbit on elephant poop, i mentioned water and education and that i would come back to you on these things. and fore-warning, my verbosity really shows in this post. lol.

we all, to some degree, accept our lives and culture as we’ve been born into it.  it’s all that we know.  the wealth or poverty structure.    how we live.  opportunities, or lack thereof.  accessibility of education and resources.  yes, some break out of the mold, some dream beyond belief and achieve the seemingly impossible.  but for the most part, most of us don’t move much beyond the confines of our birth to a large degree.  we speak the language of our people, follow the traditions and religions and beliefs and ways of our people.  and accept the truths that are delivered to us.

and when those of us that are delivered into a life of having much more than we need, even though we still want more, what is our responsibility or place when face to face with those that were delivered into a life that lacks even the basic of necessities?  ah, that is probably highly debatable and this is not intended to be a forum for that.  this is simply about sharing a story of stark reality, our plans to help and hopes that there might be help out there somewhere.

my eyes have been opened by my experiences here in tanzania.  and while my heart has opened so much over the past months, this visit to the massai village has opened my eyes and heart even more.

so. just for a moment. close your eyes.  no, never mind.  if you do that, you can’t read these words.  imagine, if you will.  living in a remote part of the world, east africa perhaps.  you are a mother, or a father, with several children.  you live without access to running water, power, or easy access to food.    your children must walk more than an hour to get to a school which offers barely an education, and no food during the day; they leave at 5:30 am.   this wasn’t your decision – it is the fate of your birth and ancestry.  perhaps some of your children may one day move out of this tradition but for now.  this is life as you know it.

water. as a basic necessity.  something most of take for granted.  we turn on the tap and it’s drinkable. we pop into the store and purchase a bottle of water.  we turn on the water to bathe, to wash clothing and dishes.  to water our animals.  what if.  what if you didn’t have water available to take for granted.   this massai village has been in the area for a long time. at one point, i believe that perhaps access to water was more prevalent; now only a few swampy areas of stagnant water remain for livestock and washing (although i cannot believe that they could do much with this water for washing).  they must travel 12 or more hours daily to the mountain to get water suitable for drinking.  can you imagine?  making that daily trek?  oh, you are a woman in all likelihood making that daily trek.

what is needed here, quite obviously, to improve quality of life for this village (approximately 1000 people)  is a well.   based upon initial information, we believe that the well would need to be about 100 meters deep, and will cost approximately $50,000 USD, as estimated by a tanzanian drilling company.

it is said that the path out of poverty is education.  regardless of the remoteness, regardless of life plans, education is still an important issue here.  their curriculum (government school) includes math, science, political science, geography, english and swahili.  if these children do not go to school, they do not even learn swahili, which definitely causes communication issues – and all children in the education system will learn english if they go on to secondary school.  hiring educated tanzanian teachers has not worked out because they must live on site and the quarters are ….well, they are not living in a hut, but with no running water or power, and so many children to a teacher – there is a high turnover rate to say the least.   so, what makes sense is to send villagers to become educated teachers, to commit to the school.  also needed is a dormitory so that the children can board there, eliminating the long daily walks.  this would allow them more concentration on studies, homework and also food.   so.  educate more teachers.  build a dormitory.  have food.  that doesn’t even count water or power.  or books for the classes (i was given a list of needs for the books).  our education system may be lacking but holy moly.  can you imagine (anyone?  especially those of you in the education system?)  teaching without pay.  teaching without power, books, resources.  teaching in which you live isolated from your own community.  can you imagine, as a student – a 3 hour walking commute?  no lunch or meal mid day.  not enough teachers to help you with questions.  yet both students and teachers do what they can.

we would like to find a way to help in whatever ways we can.  our initial emphasis is to help fund education for future teachers – it is a 2 year program that costs 3,000,000 TSH (or just under $2,000 USD for the 2 year program).  other funds received would be used to purchased much needed text books or food.

i have learned that if you ask enough questions, tell enough people, eventually you will get answers.  today – i am seeking resources – whether that be contributions toward these project, connections to companies or organizations that can help us partner on them or knowledge of other drilling companies that might do this for less money.

for the water issue:  yes, it’s a lot of money.  but how do you measure the cost of a basic necessity for 1000 people?  $50,000 is about $50 per massai.  if we could get this message to 1,000 people that would give $50 we would have it raised in a snap.  or 500 people at $100.  the math can be calculated in a number of ways.  but i am reaching out to you – and hope you will reach out to other if this touches your heart in any way.  who do you know that can help?  who would be interested in this project?  pass it on.  get them back in contact with me.

for the education issue:  if this grabs at your heart and you would like more information or to help, you just let me know. again, spread the word.   ideally, if we could raise at least $5,000 to send two people to school, and have some funds to purchase books and supplies it would be a start, it wouldn’t build a dorm, it would feed the kids or take care of all needs, but…it would be a start.

i said in the last blog.  it is overwhelming, the needs we face.  i sometimes sit in tears.  i don’t know all of these beautiful people personally and certainly you will not.  but do we need to?  we are all one, part of the same thread, that together is the tapestry of our human-ness.  we can certainly become aware of the world beyond ourselves, open our hearts and minds, and discover ways that we can  meet the needs we are presented with.

since i am first hand being presented with these particular needs,  i am sharing with you the stories in hopes that somewhere out there someone reads the words, takes them into their heart, shares them with others and sparks ignite – together we make a difference.  i am your hands and feet here, but i only have so many resources myself.  i need you.

as always.  nakupende.  nimekumis kabisa.  love you and miss you so much!  but i’m right where i need to be and want to be.  and i’m freakin lucky to have had this door open to me, and i’m thankful i heard the door squeak and that i opted to push it open and walk through it.

i’ll leave you with this vid that johnson captured on our visit.  our volunteer nurses brought shoes and clothing with them.  you will get a sense of the colors, sounds and people. and don’t forget.  if you want more information or have some ideas to help or want to send money or know a company that would like to send money, buzz me!

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elephant poop. massai bomas. land cruisers. endless needs.

at half-eight sunday morning, 11 people loaded into the land cruiser, representing africa, germany, ireland, UK, sweden and of course america.  headed to the kenya – tanzania border for the day to visit our massai friends in the karemba region/lake jipe. ( i think that i might have been a dog in a previous life.  seriously.  is there anything better than having the top open in the land cruiser, the wind rushing in your face, sun beaming on your head.  bouncing  around, hanging on so you don’t fall (dirt roads are quite rough).  i could do this every day.  no wonder dogs love to ride with the window open and their tongues hanging out.  i totally get it. ) this was a brilliant day, maybe the ‘best day ever’ in many ways.  i loved being in the wilderness, i loved the new experiences, i loved the remoteness. loved the people. at one point, emmason’s ipod was playing johnny cash, creating a surreal moment (classic c/w in the wilds of africa?  really?)  i was filthy dirty and rank at the end of the day.  we didn’t eat anything but whatever munchies we picked up before leaving.  we had one pee stop when we found a forested area to literally find a bush to squat behind (omg.  i was about to bust by that point).  did i mention how much i loved this day?  lol

foot2afrika is developing a plan for a work camp in this region – it will be more of a roughing-it type of experience, tents, cold water showers, limited access to anything.  initially the focus will be on conservation; the village cuts down acacia trees for firewood and the land is becoming stripped.  replanting of trees and education of the villagers will be the first phase.   the village (over a thousand people, spread out in 64 bomas (a collection of homes in a ‘family’ led by the patriarch who has many wives and children) have no running water, no power, and struggle to grow food (the critters they fight to keep out of the garden are elephants and water buffalo).   there is a primary school with 280 children that must leave their homes by 5:30 am to make the long walk to arrive by 7 am.  there are only 3 teachers here so their job is immense.   as the village is so remote, teachers must reside on site and the conditions are quite stark; therefore it is quite difficult to retain them (as we are told – “they run away”.  the obvious best plan is to educate massai villagers to become teachers as opposed to hiring outsiders that are not willing to live in these conditions).

our first stop was the site of where the work camp and tents would be (we’re in kenya)  we walked the area for quite a while in the heat, our legs continually scratched by bushes and thorns.  the ground is so dry, it’s like walking in sand. but lake jipe is nearby and so there is a water table to access.

elephant poop

at the site of one of the maize fields, we find elephant poop.  well, did you know that in this climate it often dries quickly and when it does, it doesn’t even smell?  i know this because i handled it and sniffed lol. well, we were discussing that it doesn’t and so i wanted to confirm, of course.  and apparently if you burn it and inhale the smoke it has healing properties for certain situations (headache, congestion, etc.  wow, who knew?  the bushmen, that’s who) .  oh – there’s a yellow bark acacia tree, when you see those, the water table is getting closer (as we walked closer to the lake area.   and then a tree where the elephants scratch their back – you can tell by the worn down bark and patterns in the tree. we stop in the shade and rest for a bit before heading on. and then… dung beetles (there are several hundred varieties here) and they certainly have their work cut out for them in africa.

back at the land cruiser we load up and head for the boma where the village chairman lives.  mambo! habari yako!  well, some of the massai do speak swahili, although most speak maa.  so it is difficult to communicate but there is a universal language of smiling, through your eyes, sometimes hand shakes.  the children are not quite certain what to make of us but eventually some of them warmed up.  one finally held my hand, another came closer to smile.  the others would run away however! we leave some food, soccer balls, some shoes for the children and enjoy a bit of swahili banter and some tea? milk for sure was in it;  i’m not sure what it was i drank but it was very hot but tasty.

the village chairman joins us in the land cruiser and we head to the next boma but first pass by a stagnant water source for watering livestock and washing.  water is a huge issue here – lack thereof.  for drinking water, they travel 12-13 hours per day from their bomas to one of the mountains to collect water.  we are working on a solution for that as well (i’ll share more later).   through the course of the day, we visit a few bomas, a clinic and the school.  the needs are overwhelming, the people are lovely, and we will be working through how we can help. as it is with all of the people and areas we encounter – we must accept the fact that we cannot help all of africa, all of tanzania, all of the world.  but what we can do is focus on those opportunities presented to us and do our best to assist, love, and give from the heart where we are planted.

enjoy more photos from the day, found on my fb page.

in the next blog, i will share more information on water and education.  for now, i will say badaye, and nakupende.  hope you enjoyed the story; would love to hear from you! miss you all and love you but as you know, i am doing well and loving my life here in tanzania.  i feel so blessed that i can share what i have to bless others – my connections, words, smile, love, knowledge, friendship, $ or talents. how lucky can i be?

you are awesome and magnificent!  love you so much! be blessed.  be healthy.  be love to others.  be peace in your world.