You’ve not been to East Africa if you have not interacted with the Maasai people. They are the predominant inhabits of Kajiado County in Kenya and Northern part Tanzania. The Maasai are well known for their long-lasting and distinct culture. Their dressing also gives them unrivalled identity in the world. In fact, Maasai sometimes represent the culture of Africa.
Besides this ‘fame’, Maasai community still struggles with issues of female genital mutilation, high school dropouts, early pregnancies, child abuse and rise in domestic violence. The net impact of these is too huge to bear. For this reason, ICS runs its Skilful parenting program in Tanzania among the ‘Maa’ community. From when it was established, the program has birthed hope in marriages, cemented love between parents and children. These families have admirable fathers, who were once distant from their wives and children. They have mothers who find acceptance, true love and recognition. But most importantly, they have children who have a great future because of good fatherhood, and improved parent-child relations.
Shuttered dreams in grazing fields
Many Maasai children who never go to school always stare at their dreams helplessly as they look after herds of livestock. Some have distorted misconceptions about education as they fear losing their cultural identity. This stems from poor parenting. Logolie Ngarasa, now in class 5 had to defy his father to go to school. And it only happened when he miraculously met Monduli Pastoralist Development Initiative.
“The MPDI staff told me that, when you go to school you cannot lose your identity as a Maasai. You still can speak Kimasai and when you’re educated you will work and get money to buy more cattle for your family. So I resolved to go to school and told my father I could not look after his cattle any longer,” he narrated.
For Ngarasa, he only needed a word to inspire him and turn around his life. From favors from the head teacher of Endepesi Primary School who allowed him in school without uniform to his friends who shared books and pens with him, the optimistic boy gives credit to MPDI, a Maasai organization that works with ICS. He says, “My father is not and will not provide for me because I went against his will. I am very thankful to my teachers and friends at school who helped me for everything eve bag which I am caring my books. I had nothing and that is why I come to ask MPDI if you can help me so I cannot get out of school”.
The power of ICS Skilful Parenting
Even with a well-knitted culture that is almost impossible to penetrate, ICS Skilful Parenting has its footsteps well stamped in many families. Meet Mr. Barnoti Kuyeti, a resident of Kilaho sub village in Eluwai village. A polygamous father of 13 children and five wives, Kuyeti, prior to ICS training on skillful parenting, was a true example of a traditional Maasai man. He ‘ruled’ his wives and children like a dictator. He made all the decisions solely without consulting any of his wives. For his children, they remained mum at all time in the presence of their daddy. They missed the love of a true father.
Fathers value their wives and children after training
Today, things have changed. Mr. Kuyeti is his family’s source of joy. But it wasn’t easy. He struggled with the stigma that comes when one turns his back on traditions related to masculinity. He was worried of becoming the laughing stalk in the village. With the support of MPDI, ICS field staffs, and fellow Maasai role models, he is a living example of the impact of skillful parenting.
This year, as the world marks International Women’s Day, we recognize the work, efforts and contribution of women in all spheres of life. As an organization, we support efforts to have a gender inclusive world as envisaged by the United Nations. >>
Skillful Parenting is a program developed by ICS that supports parents in Kenya and Tanzania in raising children. Two researchers at the University of Utrecht studied the effects of our training methods among participants. The conclusions are positive. >>