Kate has returned from a trip leading the UNESCO Observatory Maasai Cultural Village Project for OzQuest.
The project team spent two weeks alongside the Maasai Community Concern and Networking organisation (MACCONET) in the Rift Valley, led by Kate, MACCONET Director Emmanuel Parsimei and UNESCO Observatory Director Lindy Joubert. The team spent time engaging in Maasai culture, including attending church, a goat slaughter, a performance by the dance group and shopping at the local market.
The project saw the development of a concept design for the proposed Maasai Cultural Village by Bryan Cush, an architect from Melbourne. Bryan’s partner, Lani Richards and Melbourne university commerce student Matthew Li, produced a market overview document in relation to the beautiful Maasai bead work to be sold at the Centre. Engineering students Rhiannah Carver and Vinh Do, with graduate Anthony Kung, conducted a scoping project, identifying key issues in water (access and quality), sanitation and health care (access) and highlighting short and long-term solutions.
The trip was filmed by a team from ‘Creative Cowboy’, who are creating a documentary of the program to assist in funding proposals and as an educational resource.
Kate was fortunate to spend some time with members of the district women’s group, who highlighted a number of issues facing girls and women in the region, including lack of access to and understanding of contraception. She also had extensive discussions with MACCONET members, regarding small-scale projects that may be supported by Australian partners. These discussions will provide the platform for the development of a Destination Dreaming Kenya program in 2011. Destination Dreaming will seek to develop partnerships between schools and community organisations in Australia to support small development projects targeting women’s rights, access to health and education, and drip-feed irrigation.
Despite the harsh, dry landscape, the Rift Valley was certainly a very unique and beautiful place. The group was lucky enough to come across giraffes, impalas and dik-diks on their travels, against a backdrop of magnificent sunsets over the savannah. The staff at Savannah Sunset camp also spoiled us with amazing food, including lentil curries, perfect chapattis and the best pineapple most had ever tasted.
At the end of two weeks the team was faced with a sad goodbye to a warm and amazingly resilient community. Kate will spend the coming months preparing the Kenya program, in collaboration with MACCONET and the women’s group. If you are aware of any schools or community organisations who may be interested in getting involved in the program, please forward on this news item or our details.