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We all are enjoying having kids in the class this summer!

J Dianne, Prescott College faculty colleague, is here this summer with her husband Buzz, teacher at Northpoint Academy in Prescott, and their two children. We are enjoying having the whole family with the course this summer. Having children with us definitely amps up the enjoyment and the wonder of every day. 

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Narok Women's Bead Cooperative

The class visiting a women's bead cooperative in Narok today, hosted by our friend Naisuakou ene Leete, who is the Chairwoman and a good friend. We heard about the vision of the cooperative which has been active for many years, struggled against all odds to access markets for Maasai women determined to benefit the entire community through their organization. Naisuakou herself has worked for years on behalf of Maasai struggles, and was very involved in Meitamei's campaigns for Kenyan Parliament. It was a wonderful visit. Students bought beads and learned from some very impressive women about the lack of economic empowerment faced by Maasai women. 

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Researching and Learning in Maasailand

Our 2015 class arrived in Nairobi one week ago and we are already immersed in great work! The class has been learning about Maasai history and land right especially, as we are engaging with an important question this summer, about the legitimacy of the British Treaties with the Maasai community, of 1904 and 1911, and the significance of that question to Maasai land rights campaigns today. Students and Interns are reconstructing the history of violence in the conquest of Maasailand, the question of whether translation was adequate at the time of the Treaties, and are producing high quality maps to aid our investigation.

This class is a pleasure and we are blessed to have five fabulous graduate researchers working with us this summer. Other work for this summer includes surveys of Maasai communities about the impact of clean water on women's lives and the community's education. Education itself is emerging as an important issue this summer, especially as we are fortunate to have J Dianne Brederson with us. J is looking into the big questions of how cultural survival can be supported through education and her involvement is opening up that arena of possibility for our program this summer. 

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December 2014 Update

For many years, those of you who know us well have looked to the day when our attention could be redirected to establishing MERC with a solid financial base. That day has come.  With the generous support of the MERC board, we are in the process of building an apartment complex in Narok town that will provide sufficient income for MERC operations, freeing our time to pursue grants for projects. The complex includes seven buildings and will be leased for the use of faculty of Maasai Mara University.  We have also been able to complete a dining/kitchen building at our center in Maasai Mara; with the addition of some additional infrastructure, the camp will be ready for groups, conferences and researchers. Our office in Narok is also finally established and Meitamei sits behind a desk there most days. We have signed an official memorandum of understanding with Prescott College of Arizona after years of working closely together, that expresses our continued commitment to collaboration. The basic support provided by an office and staff has made a great difference to our ability to work efficiently and effectively.

Other news…the land rights case at Mau Narok is moving forward and all signs are good. The case is currently in the hands of the National Land Commission, which was created through Kenya’s new constitution, to investigate of offer findings in regard to land rights claims. The NLC has paid special attention to the case at Mau Narok and is working with the community and the government to resolve the case outside of court if possible. Meanwhile, the community is devising a plan for how the land will be used once it is returned. These are exciting times. Mau Narok is 30,000 acres of some of the best land in Kenya, a headwater that feeds many tens of thousands of acres of dry land. The rivers that are generated there are currently polluted by industrial agriculture, and so restoration of the land to the community can lead to healing the land as well. The return of Mau Narok opens many doors to the community being able to determine its own future.

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MERC now has an office in Narok, Kenya! We will post more detailed information soon including pictures...

The dining and kitchen facility is also nearly complete. The kitchen is located at the Ndoynio Oloip camp in Maasai Mara. 

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