Last week, BG and I spent the day with Maasai families for our Kenya home stay. This was a much different experience than the home stays in Tanzania for multiple reasons. In Tanzania, the family spoke pretty good English and communication was fairly easy. Here in Kenya, our Maasai mama spoke Kimaasai and a little bit of Kiswahili so we used a lot of hand signals to communicate. The first task that we had to do was fetch water for the family, which the mama told us about by asking “Unapenda maji?” (Do you like/want water?). After realizing what she was trying to say, we grabbed the water jugs and started walking. It took about 20 minutes to get to the creek and then mama filled the jugs with water and made sure we stayed away from the creek like the few inches of water was able to sweep us away. After she filled the jugs, we tied fabric around the handles and positioned the fabric on our heads like headbands with the water resting on our backs. So now I can say that I have carried water on my head with a Maasai mama. And I made it all the way back to the home with it on my head! Needless to say, I was pretty proud of this accomplishment. We also got to play with the baby girl of the family (she was only six months old) and the kitten and puppy that the family had until I saw the puppy had fleas and decided petting him was a bad idea. The rest of the day we drank a lot of tea, made bracelets, helped prepare cabbage and ugali (a staple African food made with ground corn and looks like mashed potatoes) and ate lunch with our hands, helped to build a house in the rain by putting sticks in the siding that will be covered with cow dung, and set up to make charcoal by gathering goat poop and dirt with our hands and spreading it on logs.
Our Maasai mama, 4 of her 6 children, BG and I.
Yesterday we finished exams and got assigned our Directed Research topics. I was put into the Wildlife Ecology group and we will be studying the water quality of the Noolturesh river that people and wildlife use every day. This was my top choice and I am so excited to start this project and hopefully learn new ways to extract water from the rivers in a more sustainable way. The first task is a group project proposal which we are to research the topic and make a plan for the next few weeks of research.