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Meitamei Receives Giraffe Heroes Award

We are happy to report that Meitamei Olol Dapash has been honored to receive the Giraffe Heroes Award at a dinner in Nakuru, Kenya last month. Giraffe Heroes exists to recognize leaders around the world notable for their willingness to "stick their necks out" to support community initiatives. Giraffe Heroes founder John Graham had this to say about the event which he says was a "great success": 

"Overflow crowd, moving remarks by the 24 Giraffe Heroes honored that night, great food—and an atmosphere charged with energy and leaning into the future. You know it’s been a great event when you can’t clear the room when it’s over! People savored the mood and the vision of the night and just didn’t want to leave it.Kenya’s new Giraffe Heroes were sticking their necks out on a wide variety of issues, including the environment, anti-corruption, good governance, women’s issues, fairness in land use, stemming tribal conflict and more." John said that Meitamei "brought a whole Maasai delegation with him to the event. He understands that Giraffe Heroes Kenya can help him raise awareness and support for his work." 

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Meitamei is Given the Prestigious Paul Harris Award by Rotary 100

Meitamei was very pleased and honored to be awarded the prestigious Paul Harris Fellow award at the Rotary 100 club in September. The Paul Harris award recognizes contributions to Rotary Foundation of Rotary International and those who further the mission of Rotary through service. The award was presented by long time friend and MERC Board member Craig Wilson. 

 

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This summer, our Prescott College class took on a piece of research to document the daily reality faced by the vast majority of rural Maasai people who live without access to clean water. I have known about the lack of water in Maasailand and the unfathomable statistics, but until this summer, I have never been immersed in the situation faced by these communities due to their struggles with water.  What I saw was powerful: women walking miles every day of their lives to haul a jerry can containing 20 liters of typically polluted water on their backs to be used for cooking, washing, and drinking. I not only witnessed the depth of the suffering lack of water brings, but also the resilience of the communities that work together daily to navigate their lack of water.

I spent concentrated time with the women who carry the water, talking about the role that water has on their daily lives. We walked many miles some days, from village to village through a hilly semi-forested area of Maasailand.  We drank tea made with water that had been carried 5-10 kilometers uphill before it could be poured into my cup. For the first time in all of these years of working on water projects, in the company of a dozen Maasai women and our students, I strapped a full jerrycan of water onto my back and felt the compression of my spine--the instant throbbing from the press of the strap on my forehead. I have carried packs of equal weight for miles, but under 44 pounds of water carried this way, I could barely stagger three feet. While I teetered, I met the eyes of one woman who seemed to be unsure whether to laugh or cry at this spectacle. Another woman in the room chanted loudly in Maa, "We do this everyday, everyday, everyday." We met children who are routinely beaten if they show up for school without a liter of water to provide for the use of their teachers. We met those same teachers who spend their lives in dirty clothes, in dirty classrooms, with children who are told not to play outside because they get dirty and have no way to wash. We heard about the anguish experienced by women and children who fear daybreak because it means rising to face the lack of water again. 

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Posted by on in Fundraising

Dr. Frank Aaron, vice president of the Woodward Kiwanis Club, presents a $500 check to Mike Stone, who is on the board of directors for the Maasai Education, Research, and Conservation (MERC) Institute. The Kiwanis Club's donation will go to help the MERC Insititute provide assistance to the Maasai people in Kenya and Tanzania.

MERC-donation_Woodward-News-6.22.14.pdf

Tagged in: Fundraising Thank You
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BREAKING NEWS: Historic Mau Narok Case in Court

This past December, the trial for the return of ancestral land to the Maasai people was heard for the first time in Kenyan court.  The hearing was itself a major victory for the Maasai community in its efforts to regain land occupied  under British colonial rule and then reoccupied by wealthy Kenyans shortly after Indepdence in 1963. The community filed suit for the return of 30,000 acres of this land at a place called Mau Narok in April 2010, and since that time Maasai people at Mau Narok–men, women and children, have been threatened, beaten, jailed and even killed in an apparent effort to settle the issue outside of court. The Maasai community has stood strong. It has maintained a commitment to non-violence, and to its singular goal of receiving a fair hearing of this issue in Kenyan court. In the context of the court battle, a movement of Maasai people has coalesced around the Mau Narok case. On November 9, the case was moved  to the Court on Human Rights, and the next hearing date is set for December 15th. Many eyes in Kenya and the world are watching this case, which is considered to be an acid test of Kenya’s court, newly reformed under the Constitution passed in July of 2010.

Tagged in: Land Rights
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