Impressions of the Boma

Hours from what is typically considered civilization, in the midst of a vast landscape on the edge of several craters, among people whose ways have hardly changed over the course of several centuries—staying in the boma is almost like stepping back in time.

Sisters For Peace in Alchaniomelock
Members of MP parter organization Sisters For Peace recently joined Judy and Kim in a visit to AMSO Director Mbekure’s home in Alchaniomelock.

This past fall, Maasai Partners staff and members of partner organization Sisters for Peace (SFP) were able to stay in Alchaniomelock, one of our service villages in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, for several days. This was part of a trip that included project visits, and meetings. SFP Founder Caroline Wheeler and staff members Jessica Sarno and Elizabeth Reilly had visited this area the previous year with MP, but they had not been able to stay overnight.

Mbekure, director of MP’s main partner organization, graciously offered to host these women along with MP Founder Judy and Kim, our on the ground fellow.

Sisters For Peace in Alchaniomelock
Mbekure stands in front of his house with his wife, Mama Melami, and two of their three children- Gracie and Sailepu.

Mbekure’s home in his boma, or homestead, is a mud house more modern than the typical, small mud hut. But the experience of staying there is still an incredibly unique one. We recently caught up with the Sisters For Peace and asked them about their impressions of this one-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Their ebullient stories, smiles and laughter made clear how much they loved their trip and the people with whom they bonded.

How was it staying in the village?

Caroline Wheeler [CW]: “Mbekure’s boma is such a special place, with the views, and the size—it felt like we had a deeper connection. The boma is so precious.”

Elizabeth Reilly [ER]: “I was so aware of the sensory part of living out there—the silence and space. The color palate was so soft—pale and greenish browns. It’s such a different rhythm of life. They got water, did beads, brought the animals in and out.”

Sisters For Peace in Alchaniomelock
Though Judy and Kim regularly stay in the boma, or homestead consisting of mud homes, this was a new and eye-opening experience for Jessica, Caroline and Liz.

Jessica Sarno [JS]: “The length of time gave us an opportunity to get a glimpse of daily routine and life. I loved hearing the animals come and go.”

Caroline, Jessica and Kim had to share a bed—what was that like?

JS: “It was comfortable! We did head to foot, and we were fine.”

What was most memorable about the stay for you?

Sisters For Peace in Alchaniomelock
As is traditional among Maasai, Kim, Caroline and Jessica slept head to foot, three to a bed.

CW: “I just love the women there. We were able to sit with the women while they were beading; it was one of the most special things. It’s so beautiful. One woman came and sat in the grass and started beading, and then more women and girls kept coming to join them. There is a lot of energy.”

ER: “I was struck by the darkness inside houses.”

And how about special meal Mbekure’s family prepared for all of you?

Sisters For Peace in Alchaniomelock
Mbekure’s family put out a spread of specialty meats as a huge honor to their guests.

ER: “They slaughtered a sheep for us. It was only the men, very ceremonial. That night they served us chopped lamp with raw blood. It was just such an amazing honor, at a time when life is so hard and families are so hungry.”

JS: “The hardest part was the first time I took a bite.
They eat all the parts of the animal, and we had the guest portion, which would be the best portion. When we told them we couldn’t finish it all, they were thrilled [because it meant they would get to eat this very good part].”

Sisters For Peace in Alchaniomelock
The Maasai we work with love to clasp hands in order to express friendship and appreciation, especially with Judy, who has been visiting them for years.

Did anything else stand out?

ER: “How much people love Judy.”

And though Judy would be slow to admit it, we could not agree more. We’re so grateful for this partnership and friendship with the Sisters For Peace and amazed by the work they do. See pictures from their trip here, and keep an eye out for more blogs, coming soon.

This blog is a part of our interview series, where we gather first-hand accounts from members and friends of our network and their on-the-ground trips to Tanzania.


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