Mary Walker: Thinking of Maasai mothers

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Mary Walker

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A garage sale, barbecue and bake sale to benefit the Tasaru Girls Rescue Centre in Narok, Kenya, is June 11. Organizers are seeking donations. Contact Gillian Morris at 970-846-1953 or gmorris@threecrow... to contribute.

Editor’s note: Clark resident Mary Walker volunteers at the Tasaru Girls Rescue Centre in Narok, Kenya. The center was built in 2002 and provides a safehouse for Maasai girls who have escaped or been rescued from female genital mutilation and forced childhood marriage. Walker’s updates from Kenya appear periodically in the Steamboat Today.

On this Mother’s Day, I wanted to take the opportunity to share the story of one of the many remarkable girls from Tasaru. Nailois Kamwaro completed high school in November and has begun her studies in engineering at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. She is incredibly bright and very cheerful.

From the poem that Nailois composed some time ago, however, you will see that she carries inside of her much pain and despair about her mother. You see, her mother lives the worst of the worst life of many Maasais. And there is no end in sight for her. From what I’ve been told, Nailois’ father refuses to allow Nailois’ mother to have a phone, keeps her national ID locked away and forces her to live all of the indignities of what we would call slavery.

Nailois is fortunate to have found a group here in the Steamboat Springs community who will be financing the school fees for her university education. Nailois completed high school with a B average. This is truly remarkable, not only for any Kenyan student of the public education system (i.e. not educated in England, as almost all wealthy Kenyan kids are) but specifically for girls with as many personal, family and cultural challenges as Nailois confronts daily. Because of her performance in high school, Nailois is one of a reported 2 percent of all children in Kenya who are able to proceed to any kind of post-secondary education. Engineering is a good fit for Nailois; when living at the center, Nailois was the prefect for maintaining the radio, TV and VCR, which serve as most treasured entertainment for all of the girls.

The poem here is published with Nailois’ permission. Happy Mother’s Day.

My dear mother,

Since my birth

I have never seen you resting.

Fetching firewood, going to garden

You have been the breadwinner

Oh! Mother

Hardship is part of your life,

You experience no peace,

Every night you are beaten.

You sleep in the bush with wild animals

With a broken hand and heart.

When you are sick

You are left alone

With your children to care for you.

You are forced to work,

For you cannot watch your children

Die of hunger.

Oh! Mother

To the lives of your children

You try to bring a difference,

To see they do not suffer

The way you have been.

Join hands, mothers,

And seek for your rights.

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