Learning Together: Noonkodin Secondary School and UK schools Gemma Burford Co-Founder & International Liaison, Noonkodin Secondary School Emaiyan – Blessings (Starting from the heart) Meetings always start with a prayer. The most important ones are held under a special tree, which is like a natural ‘church’ for the Maasai. The Maasai call God Engai. When the women milk the cows in the morning, they spill a few drops of milk to ‘give something back to the Earth’. People go to the ‘Mountain of God’ to pray and ask for help. Each area has a spiritual leader, who’s also a healer. Enaboishu – Oneness (We ARE one family!) Young men aren’t allowed to eat meat, drink milk or even take a bath alone! Elders & children are looked after by the whole village Children eat wherever they’re hungry and sleep wherever they’re tired Everyone helps out at community festivals Everyone works together in building new houses, searching for lost cattle and growing food Eserian – Harmony (A place of peace) The Maasai keep livestock (cattle, goats, sheep and donkeys) and some grow crops like maize, beans and wheat. Peace (eserian) means a good relationship between people, livestock and wild animals Maasai live alongside wild animals, and kill them only when they are a direct threat to their livestock! Plants and trees are used to make homes, tools, and even medicines to treat diseases. Osingolio – Song (Passing on the tradition) Traditional Maasai communities didn’t write anything down… Songs and stories are the community’s `libraries’! Elders tell stories to children around the fire Stories and songs of ancient heroes are used to teach children how to behave Dance is used to help people make friends and get to know one another Challenges In the past, the Maasai were famous for being fierce warriors who used to fight other tribes. An important new challenge is learning to work together with people who look different, speak different languages, and value different things! The weather in Maasai land is changing. Sometimes there’s not enough rain (droughts), and sometimes there’s too much (floods), so livestock and people die. Diseases kill livestock too. Getting enough clean water has always been difficult, and now it’s even harder. Some 10-year-olds have to carry a 10-litre drum of water on their backs for three hours every day! (Would you want to carry it for three minutes?) As towns, cities, farms and National Parks grow, it’s hard to find enough land for keeping livestock without ruining the grass and soil. Going to school When Maasai children go to school, they learn the same sort of things as English children: Maths, Science, History, Geography, English, and the national language, which is called Ki-Swahili. They don’t have a chance to learn about things like how to look after livestock, how to respect and protect nature, which berries are good to eat, or how to use plants for making medicines. So when the old people die, there is nobody left who knows about these things. The songs, stories and knowledge die too! There is an African proverb: “Whenever an elder dies, a library burns to the ground”. Noonkodin Secondary School Noonkodin Secondary School We built Noonkodin Secondary School to give young Maasai a place where they can still learn English, Maths, Science and the other subjects, but keep learning their culture and values too. They learn how to work together with people from different tribes and even different countries! Years 8-9 have special classes where they talk about their history, share songs and stories, and learn practical skills like cooking and making jewellery. Year 10 students go out into the villages to talk to elderly people, find out from them about how to make plant medicines, and put the knowledge into books so that it can be kept for ever. Noonkodin’s Motto: “The pen is mightier than the spear” TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More! Maasai families work very hard to send their children to Noonkodin, but there are some who can’t find enough money. We can work as a team to make sure that nobody at Noonkodin ever has to leave school because they can’t afford it! We can join forces with Noonkodin School to improve its buildings and get more books, computers, equipment, etc. In 2009-2010, through its partnerships with UK schools, Noonkodin was able to build a new boys’ dormitory and a new kitchen, equip the science lab, set up a library and install four new computers. Our next goal is to buy a vehicle, so that pupils and staff can be taken to hospital quickly if there is an emergency. Learning Together What can we learn, with the Maasai youth at Noonkodin, about healthy ways of enjoying nature without destroying it? How can we make sure that children in Tanzania and the UK grow up to care about one another, protect the things that are important, and work together with all different kinds of people? Why are some people hungry while others have too much? Why is land being taken away from some people, to make others even richer? How can we make the world fairer for everyone? What can we, as young people, learn from our elders? Are there plants on our doorsteps that can be used as food or medicine? Are there old songs, stories and games that need to be saved? www.serianuk.org.uk [email protected] With thanks to Bob Webzell ARPS, Trustee of Serian UK, for the wonderful pictures in this slide show.