Life in a remote Maasai village

Visiting a traditional and remote Maasai village in Southern Kenya was such an eye opening and interesting experience. Not only culturally, but also to understand some of the hardships of everyday life, particularly with limited access to resources and health care.

 I arrived in the middle of the day when a lot of the women were beading traditional jewellery under the shade of a tree. A lot of their children were hanging around as most did not attend school. The closest school was around a two hour walk away in the nearest town and there was no access to any sort of transport and the road into the village was a rough, dirt road full of ruts and potholes.

 Talking with the women I learned a lot about the challenges they face, particularly with basic things that we take for granted in a country like Australia. They lacked any source of clean water and had to walk to collect dirty water from a river nearby which they used for everything from washing clothes to cooking.

 There was also a high rate of illness, mostly diarrhoea but also HIV, but with the nearest health clinic a two hour walk away most things went untreated. Topics like HIV remain largely unspoken of in such communities and the information about the disease and how it spreads is lacking. There was a pregnant woman there who was HIV positive and already had 2 younger children and was not receiving any regular treatment. The government provides free antiretrovirals for HIV positive people, however, in these cases it is not the cost but the distance and access to a health centre which presents a bigger challenge.

 Beyond getting access to health care and education, the reality of every day life is tough enough. The women in the Maasai communities bear most of the work burden and they are up from dawn til dark washing, cooking, collecting firewood and looking after the children. The women are even the ones who build the huts in the villages, while the men’s responsibilities lie mostly with the livestock.

 From witnessing just a snapshot of life in the rural Maasai communities of Kenya and speaking with the women it’s hard to comprehend the multitude of challenges they face but also how they are able to adapt and persevere. Despite the great need for them, good health care and education are privileges that many unfortunately go without.