Into the tribe

Rachel and Jon left for Kenya in January, accompanied by Rosa Trelfa, CAFOD Lancaster Diocesan Manager, for the overseas part of their Step into the Gap Year. Over the course of the next four weeks, they will be visiting various CAFOD programmes and if you’d like to keep track of their progress, you can follow it all here.

Ndonyo Lengala

Hello everyone!

Last Tuesday was one of the best (and the dirtiest!) days so far!

It started very neat and tidy by us visiting Bishop Anthony of Isiolo Diocese, who was pleased to meet us. He works closely with and supports the work of CAFOD, which was great to know.

The three of us with Bishop Anthony and Stephen Olate - the Diocesan Development Coordinator.

The rest of the day was a complete contrast, as we became immersed into the dusty and wonderful tribal village of Ndonyo Lengala. Our first glimpse was an incredibly colourful scene of Samburu tribal women sat under a huge tree. I couldn’t believe my eyes, we really were in an African tribe!

The Samburu people are a small tribe who live near to Mount Kenya, and are very similar in culture to the Massai tribe. Traditionally, the men move away to hunt in the mountains, and the women stay behind and look after the children. Today many of the men stay in the community, although there is still an obvious separation between both genders.

The women were stunning, and were adorned in traditional beaded necklaces and bracelets.

A Mama and her beautiful baby

After a few introductions, we were shown around the Village School, which was started in 2009 and has a Nursery up to Year 3. Although it only covers 4 years, the School educates children up to 13 years old. Alex, one of the Teachers, told me how they hope to develop the School to have more classes in the future.

The School had a very happy spirit to it, and the children walked about freely and seemed to really enjoy learning. They were a bit shy around us as visitors, but I find once you say ‘jambo’ they’ll soon be your friend!

The nursery

A Year 3 lesson in caring for plants

CAFOD supports the village with a nearby sand dam which will hopefully improve access to clean drinking water. The Diocese of Isiolo also supports the School directly by providing a weekly health clinic for the children.

Anthony, the Headteacher

We could see how the School was really a very positive part of the community, and it also provides a daily meal for the children, which is so important.

Children working hard - they had very neat handwriting!

In the afternoon we had a meeting, where the whole community was given the opportunity to voice their concerns. (Although both the women and men were involved, the men spoke first, while the women sat down.)

The meeting began by a prayer led by the elders praising Ngai – God. A lady named Naado LeJaale made a lovely comment, thanking us for our visit – “You came here like people we have never known, but now today you are like our children”. They spoke of how the lack of water and drought is a massive problem, and how the School still needs a lot of improvement. But they were also very positive and hopeful that things will change.

Finally, (here is the best bit of all…) the mamas sang an asante song, and the words meant:

“The things we give to you, we hope you remember us and remember Kenya”.

The women sing their song

They then crowned us with their own hand-made necklaces as a present! It was a moment I will never forget, I felt blessed and inspired by such incredible people.

The people of Ndonyo Lengala village know the climate has changed so much, they feel the pain of the drought. But by the gifts they’ve given us, I know they’ve also given us a promise of friendship and hope from their hearts too.

Covered in dust, I felt we’d found a blossom of flowers.



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