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Small steps of change are better than none, and the first steps were taken on a bright beautiful day in February 2023. Visitors from the Netherlands, including Stefan from Friends of the Maasai, Frank Heckman from the Embassy of the Earth, and Janice from the White Mountain Movement, arrived at Orpirikata and Tikoishi villages to engage with the Maasai community. The visitors were warmly welcomed with traditional songs and the blessings of the elders.


During the workshop, community members shared their aspirations for change. The challenges were similar in both villages, revolving around water scarcity, the need for alternative livelihoods, better healthcare and the wise use of natural resources.


Water was a pressing concern, with the community suggesting the implementation of solar panels to pump water, reducing dependency on expensive diesel-powered boreholes. The desire to shift from livestock-dependent livelihoods to agriculture was palpable, as growing their own food would combat food scarcity. Additionally, the Maasai saw the potential for business ventures that could provide education and basic necessities for their children.


Access to proper healthcare was considered vital for overall well-being, and the community recognized the importance of good hygiene once water was readily available. They also expressed a desire to tap into their abundant natural resources to develop local products and improve farming practices.


One obstacle they acknowledged was the lack of knowledge and expertise, particularly in utilizing their natural resources effectively. Education and training were identified as crucial tools for enabling change and fostering sustainable practices.


A unified workshop brought the two villages together, allowing for a combination of their indigenous knowledge. They assessed their strengths, such as their vast lands, rich culture and talented community members. At the same time, they identified areas that needed improvement, including limited access to knowledge, water, health facilities, food supply and markets beyond their community.


Recognizing that change was inevitable, the Maasai community outlined a series of actions to improve their livelihoods while preserving elements of their cherished culture. The creation of manageable livestock practices, embracing permaculture and encouraging women to engage in business were among the proposed solutions. They also aimed to divide their land into paddocks for better resource management, invest in education and establish community-based organizations to facilitate progress.


Certain practices, such as female genital mutilation, excessive livestock keeping, early childhood marriages, child labor, drug abuse and cattle wrestling were deemed necessary to abandon in their journey toward a more sustainable future.


Envisioning this future, the Maasai communities saw improved water and food supply through increased local production, a fully restored ecosystem, better education access and enhanced healthcare facilities.


By embracing change and fostering sustainable practices, the Maasai communities of Tikoishi and Orpirikata strive to build resilient livelihoods that honor their cultural heritage while adapting to new opportunities for growth and prosperity.

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