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  • Writer's picturePaula Hammack

Schools & Cows

Updated: Jul 19, 2020

At the community of Endoinyo Erinka in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, we have had ongoing projects to bring the school up to the top quality school it now is. Another party eventually built a “computer room” at the school and, of course, I was overjoyed that such a place was constructed. But as with everything in Kenya, things are never quite what they seem. It was a well-built good sized building, but there was NOTHING IN IT – just a building. So, of course we had to provide funding for desks, chairs, computers, books and everything else needed. We also had to “string” the computer wiring connections from the main school building to the new computer room – but now they do have a fully functioning computer room.

It was two years after we started working with the school that we realized (discovered) that

the students had NO pens or pencils and NO notebooks of any kind – no one had told us! So each year now our Foundation buys 700 notebooks and 700 pens or pencils so the students can actually record what they are learning. In addition to work with the school and the medical clinic, we do a lot of work in the community itself and one such project was the big problem with the skinny Maasai cows.

Cows have always been what the Maasai people live off of, but when schooling became mandatory not that long ago, the only way the Maasai could get money for schooling was to sell a cow – usually the sale of a cow would pay for one child to go to school for one year.

However, in the past 10 years there has been a semi-serious drought just about every year, and the pastureland is not enough for all the cows to eat the grass. So, our Foundation had been paying about $25,000 a year to buy hay so the cows would live through the droughts. That wasn’t sustainable, so I had a meeting with the elders and told them of a new breed of cow that I had become aware of. It’s a much larger cow and it produces about 8 times more milk per day than the skinny Maasai cows produce, I strongly suggested to the elders that they convert to these alternate cows as they could get the same amount of milk out of a LOT fewer cows so would need a lot less pasture land. The elders turned down that suggestion, so I then told them that I would be buying 3 cows of the new breed for myself and would they kindly look after them for me when I was away. That was a definite “yes.” And the ploy worked. As they were looking after my cows, they saw how much more milk was produced from fewer cows, and I was told the milk was much sweeter than the milk from the traditional Maasai cows as well. Subsequently, they have gradually been converting to the new breed –as have a couple of other nearby communities, and the Foundation has not had to pay with even one dollar for hay the last 2-3 years to keep the cows alive.


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