This region, bordering the Serengeti, is special for a number of reasons: not only does it mark the furthest northern reaches of the Great Migration, but it’s administered by the Mara Conservancy, a shining light in conservation-community partnerships in which the local Maasai communities play a pivotal role. In the last 20 years, 5,000 poachers have been apprehended and 50,000 snares removed.
This close relationship between conservation and community is mirrored at &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp and &Beyond Bateleur Camp, and has shaped a host of shared value opportunities which include local procurement, employment, skills training, healthcare and education initiatives.
Signature Maasai experiences – stirring rhythms, rich harmonies and the breathtaking warrior jumps – are threaded into the guest experience, together with an invitation to visit a Maasai manyatta (homestead) and explore the traditions, lifestyles and intricate beading skills of this dynamic culture.
With the advent of COVID-19, international flights stopped overnight and with this, every source of tourism revenue. Lockdown rulings have limited movement. Local markets have closed, and communities are no longer able to sell their livestock to buy food from the small selection of shops that are open. Four months later, and nothing has changed.
As part of its campaign to build community resilience, Africa Foundation has initiated a food relief project to support the 90 households within four manyattas (homesteads) identified in a survey conducted by Simon Saitoti, the Foundation’s local Programme Officer. Food parcels of maize flour, rice, cooking oil, sugar and tea leaves, will feed a collective population of 584 people.
Simon explained that when he was gathering information from the four communities, he had consulted with the women and not the men. Why? Because in the Maasai culture, anything to do with the household is the responsibility of the women – together with the collection of water, milking, cooking, cleaning and home building. You will never see a man doing any of these duties. His role is the care for livestock, security and protection.
And there you have it – a glimpse into the rich complexities of the Maasai culture – until you can visit and experience it all for yourself.
How have the food parcels been received?
Simon Saitoti, Africa Foundation’s Regional Programme Officer, had only good news when he reported back on the food relief project to support the 90 Maasai households in need.
He said that the response from the community has been fantastic – the young kids all have much more energy now and are running around and playing like children should.
The community have told me that they have never received this kind of support – even from the government or other well wishers…
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