My Family

My Family
Summer 2015

Monday, December 2, 2013

November 27, 2013--part 2-The Turkana People

After spending the early part of the day with the Riubi school, we heading in another direction about 1 hour + away from Meru to the countryside. 

 We learned just a little bit about the tribal communites in the area.  It was like being thrown into a National Geographic moment.  And also like being thrown back in time.  In the car on the way there, the staff member who was with us from Ripples answered a lot of our questions about tribal practices and communties.  In this area, the Massai Tribe and the Turkanas are some of the largest tribes.  Each one can be distinguished by the clothing and adornments they wear.  More on that later.
One of the pracitces that many tribes still participate in is circumcision of the young males at about age 14.  It is a rite of passage thing for them.  (ouch?)  And if you cry or fuss about are labled for the rest of your life as "a cry baby".  Or if you are strong enough not to respond you may be labled as "strong and courageous".
Unfortunately one of the other things many also still participate in is FGM (female genital mutliation) this can be anything from "simply" circumcision of the little girls (age 2 or even older) to much more graphic things like mutilating them to the extent that they sew the girl up and cut "things" off so they will never desire things in the future.  I don't want to get too graphic but these practices do still go on all over Africa.  Education is needed.  But traditions die hard.  Education is beginning in the younger generations, but the older generations still make it difficult on the younger ones if they don't participate.
When we arrived close to the area where we were going to see the Tribal peoples, we drove into a compound built by the Catholic Church.  They were doing a camp for the young boys who may have already experienced circumcision.  It was an educational thing to teach them that it is not a "necessary" procedure and to try to also educate them about the fact that it is not necessary to do these things to the girls and women.
We picked up a man (I can't remember his name because is was tribal and I stink at that).  He was rasied in this area and was also Turkana but didn't wear the clothing, etc. of the people.  He is 20 years old and is currently studying to be a doctor and wants to return to this area to serve the people of his community.  You really cannot go to the tribal areas without someone like this with you.  It's a rare occassion to be "allowed in".

 As we drove on the dusty dirt roads to the back country where the tribes lived we began to get glimpses of these beautiful people.  Notice the rings of beads around this person's neck.  This is a tribal tradion of the Turkana people.

 Donkeys and camels on the coutnryside.

 Linda and some of the precious children near the tribe.
 The man in the foreground in the green shirt was our Turkana translator.

 heading in to one of the Turkana family clans.
 These are the huts they live in.

 Of course, Linda connected with the women.  She has such a passion for women around the world.  She makes friends with anyone.  Even if she cannot speak directly to them.  And she brings smiles to their faces.  I love my sister for that.

 The beads that are worn symbolize different things.  Some inidcate marriage or singleness, some symbolize status and age.  And all are worn all the time.  They never take them off.  They also sleep with them on.
 The Patriarch of this family clan.  All the men were gone because they were off with herding the cattle during the day.  Their wives and children stay back and he cares for them.

 Lucas playing with the Turkana children.
 Again, our translator speaking on their behalf and ours.  Such a kind man.  We found out later that it is relatively rude for someone to come into the clan and begin asking questions of them.  But, they were willing to answer for us so this meant we were welcomed.  They had never seen Masoongoos (sp?) (white people) before.  They quickly warmed up to us and at one point I began video taping them on my iphone and they could see themselves.  It was so funny to watch them as they saw themselves.

um...yes, this looks funny, but the people offered "something" to Isaac to 'try'.  We still don't really know what it was, but he said he felt it's affects for just a brief time.  lol.

 This is one of the huts they live in.  Let's just say, you better not be too overweight to get through this doorway.  It made me a little too closterphobic, so I didn't go in.  Isaac later told me that one of the man's wives was in a room inside their dying of Malaria.  She greeted them but was not very healthy at all.

 sweet baby, but we found out the way they clean their babies is to collect cow urine and let it sit overnight to "cool"..uh hum..and then they wash the babies faces with it.  (I want to be respectul of their resourceful ness but, I kind of gagged)
 Linda "connecting" and getting the women to "dance" with her.  We have video of this.  =)

 The neighboring clan.  We could not cross the border between these two clans.  Which in my view was an imaginary line we couldn't see, but they stayed their distance.
 Then one of the men came over toward us.  Wearing this...=))))
Yes it is a Boys Scouts of America shirt.  lol Someone must have donated clothing at some point to this I'm still laughing about this.  We have been told that their are Boys Scouts everywhere.  Well, here ya go.  =)

 This is actually a stool they carry with them to sit on wherever.  Kind of like carrying along your own personal lawn chair I suppose.

 They have to travel several miles to gather water so they don't always have it.  If we had known that before we came, we would have brought them some tubs of water.  (next time...=)
 We gave the children and families suckers and other "sweets".  Everyone seemed very happy.

I left here a little dazed.
It was hard to register in my brain that we live in a time of such oppulence in our culture.
Such basic things as water within reach.
Let's not even talk about electricity or refrigeration.
Yet, these people survive.  They have strong family ties and traditions.  In our culture family is often divided and miles separate us.  I think we both have things to offer one another.  I go to visit here and I'm forced to realize these kinds of people are not from history.  They are current to today.  There is caution in entering into their world for a brief moment like this and taking pictures.  It is not to exploit them or to somehow raise ourselves up to a higher level than they are but to find the things that are the same between us and learn from one another.
They are beautiful.
They have strong family ties.
Their lives are simple in many ways.
Hard working, but simple.

When we returned home.  And I had my first good nights sleep in my bed, I looked around my bedroom and realized, the dimensions of my bedroom are larger than the homes these people live in with many people living together.  Then I had a dream that there was a huge sign on our house that said "SOLD"--painted across our house.  It was a very vivid dream.  I was making plans to move.  What's that about?

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