So we just spent 5 days in a Maasai village called Longido. It was pretty much everything you would think that you would see in Africa – minus the wild animals. The people there are literally making the best out of extreme poverty. There is no electricity – yet, practically everyone has a cell phone (that they charge at the cellphone charging store that runs on a generator). Large families are living in tiny huts and the land is so dry that most people have to trek long distances to get water. At one Boma (Maasai house) that we visited, we were helping the women of the house develop a garden to grow vegetables. Maasai men would never deal with agriculture, and in fact, they can be gone with the cattle for months at a time leaving the women to take care of the children and themselves often with no money to work with. At this particular house there were many children. It was difficult to tell who the children actually belonged to because they all seemed to live there. It was almost commune like – where the women just take care of all of them even if they aren’t their own children. Some of the kids were simply wearing a tee-shirt or a piece of fabric draped around them. They weren’t even wearing underwear. Some of them had white dry spots on their dark brown scalps. It was heart-wrenching to see that the children weren’t even fazed by the flies landing on their faces – some even crawling into their mouths and eyes – because they were so used to it.
I noticed that there were a lot of blind children at the school and when I asked about it one of the GSC staff said that it was largely because of the flies. Because Maasai people aren’t known for being extremely hygienic, they don’t think that the flies are going to harm them. However, they do carry bacteria that can get into the eyes and mouths of humans and cause irreparable damage – or at least irreparable if you don’t go right to a hospital which most people out in the village would not be able to do.
We learned all about the sustainable agriculture program and were even able to assist in making double-dug beds, sack gardens and hafirs (holes in the ground lined with plastic that are used to store water). I definitely realized that food security is so important in many of the areas outside of the main towns and cities. In a place like Longido, there is almost no access to fruits and vegetables unless you want to bring them from Arusha. Because of this, many people are not healthy. In addition, there is a growing population of people living with HIV/AIDS in this village so it is even more important to be able to have access to these healthy foods.
It is eye-opening to see that so many people in this world live so differently from the way that we do. I think that we all need to remember that because in many places the things that we take for granted are luxuries that the people could never afford.