A Baraza is a community meeting where all the elders and chiefs get together and discuss community matters. They usually last all day and cover everything from the water crises to weddings to whose goats got run over on the road.
A great opportunity - Meeting with all the Masai leaders in one place does not happen often because of transportation challenges, so this was a great opportunity. We were first up on the agenda. To be honest I was a little nervous.Typically women do not attend these meetings, but they were present at this one. This was something new for the community. I never know when we go to these meetings who will show up or whether it will be 4 or forty people. So I stay prepared. I told them everyone from Chicago says to say Hey! That brought smiles to everyone’s face and we were off and running.
Difficult and funny - The language barrier makes things difficult. You have to find other ways to get your message across with eye contact, body language and the tone of your voice. These people live in nature so they are very attuned to these things. Once I relaxed I could see and feel them and knew what to say and how to say it. I am passionate about this project and they could see that. They could also see that I believe in the women. I made it clear that if they honored their commitment that I would honor mine. It was a great experience and really helped solidify their support and trust in us.
We are all laughing in the picture because at one point I decided to start speaking Swahili; however what came out was mostly gibberish. LOL – The Masai are quick to laugh once they feel comfortable with you. We all had a good laugh together. Trust me, I’m the subject of much humor which is one of the things I enjoy most.