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Our Challenging Mission among the Maasai

maasai herdsman

Fr. Drazan Klapez said that we would like to welcome your community into our Parish of Dakawa, and also into the Diocese of Morogoro. We need your help and we are hoping that you will be able to help us to raise the education in here, especially among the pastoral tribes. This special invitation of the parish priest was given to us on Christmas Day during the Year of Mercy.

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Here in Tanzania we felt that this is an incredible gift and particular invitation. How can then we refuse to reach out to these Maasai people, who have not yet been evangelized and to these women and children who need an education? We realize it will not be easy to begin a mission and that it will involve many sacrifices, but it is God’s work. We believe it is what Pope Francis is calling us to do. It has been at the heart of our prayer and reflection for the last month.

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In February 2017 we began our new mission in Dakawa Parish. Sisters Veronica Ghuliku and Theresia Gurti were missioned there and took residence in the guesthouse of the parish. Our sisters began working at the parish kindergarten in Dakawa Parish, and soon will start in the school at Morogoro.

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Most of the people who reside in this particular area are Maasai, a tribe which is known world-wide for its strong culture and tradition. The Maasai are mainly nomads with little education, who put great value on cattle, goats and sheep. For them the cows are more important than even human beings! One of our Sisters said: ‘’One day we met a young Maasai man who told us that if he comes across a human being and a cow struggling for their life, he will rescue the cow first! When we asked him why, he replied that a human being can be born, but a cow is very expensive to buy’’.

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Lacking formal education, this society faces many challenges, which could be overcome by the having proper education. Most Maasai are intelligent and have a desire to study, but some of their customs deprive from their education. One mother told us that the first and second boys have to look after the cows; only the third child is allowed to go to school. A great number of children are not sent to school, and their main occupation is pasturing animals.

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child in the maasai manyatta

In early May the two Sisters moved to a Magogo village, which is in the bush about eight km from the main road. They are now living in a small house, which the parish priest built for a watchman to guard the borehole. Their apostolate varies from day to day and depends on the particular time of the day. The Sisters are doing the following:

  • They take part in small Christian Community meetings and prayers twice per day.
  • They visit the people, just to get to know them and give them a chance to learn about their concerns, especially in regard to the mothers and widows, who mostly experienced early and forced marriages. The Sisters were amazed to discover that many of the mothers were widows. Because of the prevalence of polygamy, when a man dies his wives are often left without protection.
  • The Sisters hold informal classes with young Morani men, who want to learn how to read and write. Some parents often face difficulty in reading letters sent by teachers from the schools. They have to walk from house to house searching for someone who can read their children’s school reports.
  • They also meet with young mothers to teach them how to read and write. Some women have cell-phones, but they do not know how to ring their friends or husbands, because they do not know numbers. They only know how to press the answer button. Sometimes they share with the Sisters the difficulties they have experienced due to early or forced marriages. Their conversations often continue late into the night, when the Sisters would prefer to go to bed. The Maasai women would like someone to sponsor them to have proper classes where they could learn to read and write.
  • The Sisters also take time to visit the sick and elderly people in their homes which consist of simple structures of sticks and clay covered with a grass roof. At present the Sisters chaperone 2 girls during the day and take them home at night to prevent them from being captured and forced into an unwanted marriage. A 15 year old girl, Deborah, is supposed to marry a man who already has 5 wives and 3 young men were chasing Juliana a 13 year old with the intention of kidnapping her, because one of them wanted to marry her.

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Sr. Theresia, with the help of the parish priests and agricultural machines, has already cultivated and planted a large area with sunflowers and laid out a garden for vegetables. Sister said that the Maasai are no help in the garden as they have no idea of gardening, but she is trying to teach them.

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An Italian friend of Fr. Drazan has drawn up plans to build a convent for the Sisters and the foundation is now being dug and funds are being raised for the project. Thus both Sisters are kept busy every day experiencing life in the bush and helping the Maasai people.

Sr. Mary McNulty, SAC