“Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Mark 10: 13-16
We departed Kenya yesterday, Feb. 25, traveling south to Arusha, Tanzania. Tanzania is home to the Masai tribe. The Masai are pastoralists who migrate across the land with their cattle. Like the other 120 tribes in Tanzania, the Masai have their own value systems, traditions, customs and food. The male elders are responsible for teaching the young men to become warriors. The women live in tight polygamous families which support and help one another in times of need. Masai women look after the home caring for the children and animals. The Masai, as all cultures around the globe, grapple with the tension between their traditional values and ever changing world.
We spent most of today visiting the Emusoi Center for Masai girls in Arusha. Founded a by Maryknoll sisters, the center serves over 350 girls from ages 11 to 23. It offers an opportunity for Masai girls to receive an education, develop their talents and widen their horizons about their future. Some girls come with the support of their families; others come on their own initiative because they want an education to better understand the world as well as develop marketable skills and pursue careers.
We visited classrooms, listened to the hopes and aspirations of these girls and heard their their stories. We had lunch, .laughed,. danced and sang together. Eating, singing and dancing are powerful universal tools of communication. The smiles and joy in the heart of these kids was contagious. There is no pressure to convert to Catholicism, yet many are so nurtured by the loving care they receive, they are attracted to Jesus by the witness of their staff, A twenty year old told me that she left her family because she wanted to become a nurse and then return to her tribe to help them receive better medical care.
Below is a picture of the girls singing a traditional Masai song. Unfortunately, I cannot embed the video, . No wonder Jesus invited the children to come to. him. He knew they were the very best seeds to build the reign of God.