Africa in my Blood ~ The Maasai
The Maasai have lived in reverence and respect on this land for hundreds of years, peacefully coexisting with the often-harsh environment and constant threat from large predators. Cattle form the basis of their lifestyle, which they protect from lions with fences constructed of acacia thorns. They’re a proud, peaceful and beautiful people, dressing in bright, bold colors. Their sense of community is strong, and they’re known to the outside world for their gorgeous artistic beadwork. Their lives are tied inextricably to nature’s delicate rhythms.
While my passion in life is clearly focused on nature's splendor, my trips to Africa have left me deeply touched by the human presence there, having developed a fond attachment for the Maasai people of Tanzania.
In 2001 I visited a Maasai Village in Kenya for the first time. As I entered the village, I had no idea I would leave a different person, completely humbled by this personal experience. I brought the simplest and smallest of gifts, such as writing pens, small tablets and packages of gum, but I was received as if I had brought far more. As the chief took me inside a Maasai mud hut for the first time, I was taken with the darkness, confined space and cow hides on dirt floors as bedding; no light, no running water, no beds; not even a cot or hammock.
As I return each year, I've adopted a ritual of bringing gifts to these beautiful and warm people as a token of my appreciation for sharing time and space with me for a few short days. These tokens have always included a variety of school supplies for the children and their teacher, as such things are hard to come by. And for a little fun, always a toy or two for each child. Smiles on their faces spoke loudly to the essence of the vivid tapestry of their culture.
The Gift of Light
Since my first visit with the Maasai, I’ve always had a vision of bringing light to an entire village. As I returned each year, I began to realize what light would mean to a village:
- Light means women can travel at night when the temperature is cooler to the rivers and streams to port water to their village with reduced danger of large predator cats and the hippopotamus (the number one killer of people in Africa).
- Light means a child that is fortunate enough to have an opportunity to go to school could have light to study by at night, since their journey on foot to and from school each day typically means they arrive home after dark.
- Light means that women, who are many times molested in the night, now have light, which has been shown to reduce these incidents.
- And, so much more.
It was not until I was introduced to the BOGO Light, however, that I thought my vision might truly be possible. In 2008, thanks to kind donations from many caring individuals, I gave each man and woman in the village a BOGO solar-powered flashlight, to light the path on their nightly walk for water.