A few weeks ago the women from the Masaa Jewellery project wanted to explain what they do with the earnings of the jewellery they sell and wanted to show their gratitude. Therefore they invited the TATU employees Sarah, Daniela, Laia and Laura for a visit. The TATU ladies share with you their experience. Enjoy.
Karibu is not just a word, it is a way of life.
This visit had quite some significance because Maasai culture is somewhat a closed community. The women are very cheerful and friendly and they laugh a lot, but on more serious subjects they tend to be more closed. They prepared the visit for weeks and you saw that everybody was very welcoming.
Making people feel welcome is of the utmost importance in Tanzania and our visit proved again that the word karibu (welcome in Swahili) is – although it is literally used all the time – not a hollow word, quite the contrary. They prepared the best food and even cooked eggs. Why mention eggs? Because they never eat eggs. They made them especially for us. It was hilarious because they were asking questions about the eggs, like why the inside is yellow.
The Maasai live quite remote, about 45 minutes walking from the centre of Msitu wa Tembo. All their houses are quite dispersed, in order to have space to keep the cattle close. We drove by car which was a very funny ride. Although everyone was packed in the car (13 women) the atmosphere was great. They started singing and we laughed a lot, it was like a trip with your girlfriends.
Watching the Maasai Channel together
When we arrived the women were very proud to show their houses and to show us what they did with the earnings which they made by selling Maasai Jewellery. The result positively astonished us.
They invested in livestock like chicken, goats and other cattle and used these animals for reproduction and to sell. Besides this they made improvements to their houses, like a new roof and one of the women was even able to build her entire house with the earnings. Another member of the group bought a nice matrass to sleep on. Also, one of the women glowed with pride when she showed us her solar panel and her television. She turned on the television and we collectively watched the ‘Maasai channel’, which was broadcasting a program with Maasai people dancing and singing.
More importantly almost all the women use the earnings of the Masaa program to pay the school fees for their children. Some of them even send their kids to boarding school to make sure they receive a proper education.
Almost all of the women pay school fees with the money earned
In private, one of the women confided to TATU Project co-founder Daniela: “one day, my husband came home and told me there was not enough money to pay the tuition fee for my daughter.” This proud Maasai mother replied her husband: “it is not a problem if you don’t have enough money for her tuition, I earn money myself and I will pay for my daughter’s tuition myself!” …
The visit continued from house to house, and more of the women shared their stories. It went from funny to serious, all topped with a sauce of laughter. For example, one of the women recently bought underwear. It was the first time in her life that she wore underwear! She was able to buy this with the profits from the Maasai jewellery. But after this funny confession, she became emotional of joy when she told that she was also able to send one of her sons to boarding school and that she is renting 2 areas of land to cultivate for personal food and to sell the vegetables. She proudly enounced it was her choice to invest in this land and not her husband’s.
It was her choice to invest in this land and not her husband’s
Part of the bigger community
All the women told us that via the Maasa Jewellery project they feel part of a big group in which they all work together. The big Kazi na Sala women group (of which the Maasa Jewellery group is a part) helps them to be more part of the Msitu wa Tembo community. All the Maasai women of the group apparently postpone their shopping until they have their weekly meeting next to the Kazi na Sala wholesale shop (the Duka na Sala project), to do their shopping in order to show their support for the women group.
The selling of Maasa Jewellery also gave them a sort of window on the world. They love to see pictures of their clients from all over the world and they ask questions about them, like where they come from or how they live. Recently Laura (the current Maasa volunteer) even had to explain about Indonesia, because she showed them a picture of a customer from Indonesia showing her Maasa Jewellery. They are very proud of this and they are very curious to get to know other cultures!
Thank you all for reading, for us it was a great day and a very interesting visit, and we hope we were able to give you a little insight in the life of these amazing women.