Visiting Our Organizational Roots

The baby was crying, the rain was pouring and we were all quietly clutching whatever hold we could find as we slid and swerved down the final slope to the boma’s gate.

“Thank you for riding Alchaniomelock Airlines,” our unfazed driver and host Mbekure, ever ready with a joke, proclaimed after narrowly avoiding an overturn or slow crash into his homestead’s fencing. Rains, long anticipated andoverdue, had turned already-poor dirt roads into a vague mud track reminiscent of video-game car races. When we pulled up to the house, a welcoming committee—consisting of all the local family and curious neighbors—awaited and greeted us.

We were back at Mbekure’s boma in Alailelai Ward to visit our friends, the families we work with and sponsor students from and the health facilities we support—all to be done in a brief window on a difficult-to-obtain permit. Going to this part of Tanzania feels like going to our second, African home. Even those we can’t communicate with beyond greetings and gestures embrace us like very old friends and want to simply be together in mutual presence. The tinkling of the goats’ bells, the loud bleating of mother sheep looking for and finding their just-born babies, the docile, hump-backed cows loudly announcing their presence, and the people walking around in flannel cloths with either babies on their backs or staffs in their hands somehow keeping track of it all while relaying each instance of personal minutia since last seeing each other, all of this in front of the sun setting on a spectacularly open landscape was our welcome back.

We settled in for the day by walking around with a group of children to catch a rainbow settling over a brilliant vista. Dinner with Mbekure and his wife was a humble, yet delicious, serving of beans and potatoes with smoky chai tea.

During our short time here, we made many stops. We went to Alailelai dispensary, where a doctor and nurse do so much with so few resources. We are continuing to support this facility through providing crucial supplies, as we are also supporting its sister health center in Nainokanoka, run by the amazing Dr. Isihak Shemagembe.

We visited Nolebonok, a young women we sent to vocational school who now runs a tailor business for local villagers, and we saw our old friends Mary, John and their families, who first introduced Judy to the area and its need and hosted her for years.

There are none who make us feel unwelcome. In fact, regardless of their increasingly difficult circumstances, where survival is at the forefront of every day existence, the Maasai in Alailelai take it all in stride. They recognize a need for change, they work hard to better themselves and their neighbors, and they do it all with smiles on their faces and no complaints.

The more educated Maasai in these remote communities always stop us for a word in English; everyone else stops us for a handshake, a hug, a smile or a joke. Leaving is always difficult—the lush, beautiful, otherworldly land surrounding us fade into dirt and ramshackle towns as we lose altitude and head into town. It’s here that MP Founder Judy first fell in love with the people of Tanzania, and it’s here where she’s shared that passion with everyone who has joined her cause. Despite the mud huts, the lack of electricity, the elements and the general scarcity, it’s in Ngorongoro, where time seems to stand still, that life seems a bit richer.

If you are interested in funding a student from this area or sending supplies to the health centers, email us at info@maasaipartners.org or donate here.

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