More survey work in the morning, but we finished it up and I’m ready to start putting the changes into our next draft. It’s exciting to see so much progress!
We went into Loibor during the day to attend more women’s meetings. One was a traditional “Under the Tree” meeting – before more permanent structures were build, people did in fact meet under the largest and most comfortably situation tree. As we wait for the meeting to begin, kelly picks up one of the village puppies and the women laugh and laugh to see her cuddling it as if it were a child. Paulina shakes her head disapprovingly, “you know they eat poop, right?” and Kelly says, “I’m kissing its head, not its mouth.” The women tell her she should take the dog back to America. Kelly and I hear this kind of thing on a semi-regular basis. Later in the day a woman asked me if I wanted “the child” (referring to her daughter, who looked about 2 and admittedly was VERY cute) to take back to America with me.
We perched on low wooden benches with the Maasai mamas and help the group strategize about how they will spread the information from the seminar and study tour to the rest of the group.
In the afternoon, Kelly and I drop by one of the mama’s huts and she invites us in for chapati, chai and some good veggies. I’m wary of eating the local food, but it’s been offered now and I figure it can’t make my current stomach issues any worse than they already are. The food is hearty and satisfying. Kelly then walks me down to the river and we take a look at the water management systems. Because of the drought, the river is barely more than a trickle. However, there are pump set all along it that pull from the deeper groundwater, and all the functioning ones are surrounded by women filling plastic jugs. Some of the women have donkeys to carry the water back home; others just carry it on their heads, or with straps looped around their foreheads. Along the riverbank, the men have dug out large wells where water glistens, each a half-tennis court in diameter. AFW (African Wildlife Fund, not at all to be confused with APW) built a dam here some time ago, as well as a trough – since then other herdsmen have built troughs of their own and use generators to pump water from their wells into the troughs. It is startling to see so much water coming from the pump and filling the wells, while the river itself is full of dirt and a sandy trickle of water.
One of the issues we see in this area is that people use the river area for both their drinking water, to wash their clothes, and to water their cattle – there is dust and dry manure all along the river banks. The village has tried to put zoning restrictions into place to separate where people wash/pull drinking water, and where the cattle may drink, but the pumps are close to the troughs and so for now it seems a difficult thing to enforce.
The meetings for the day go well, but there have been a lot of ceremonies occurring in the village lately. Every 7 years in the Maasai communities, the men and women of the village will advance from one rank to the next (for example, from youth to warrior, or from warrior to elder). There is a lot of ceremony and celebration around these advancements that involve the entire community, and so many of the women have been occupied with preparations. As a result, only 10-15 of the women in what is usually a group of 30 have been present. Nonetheless, the group’s leaders are almost always there. We decide that we’ll come back and review all the information with the full groups when all the ceremonies are over in mid-July.
The afternoon is calm; I do more research and reflect on my day from a chair set outside of the office. The sun closes its eye on the great long ridge of the horizon, and another day fades quickly from view.