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Honoring My Grandfather

Today was a full day. I cried, I laughed, and I experienced many different emotions and circumstances I never had before. This morning, I woke up to the sad news that my grandfather had passed away. Being thousands of miles from my family and friends only made the news that much harder. My grandfather loved to travel and experience new things. He had a passion for learning and teaching and was constantly challenging me to open my mind to new things. Therefore, I believe he was watching over me today as I experienced things I never had before.

As we embarked on our journey, we all excitedly awaited the moment of reuniting our Kenyan friends with Seratiani. Zura and her mother who had traveled from Nairobi took care of Seratiani for three months while in the hospital for her extreme case of elephantiasis. They cooked her food and helped her through the scariest times of her life, including the fourteen-hour surgery to save her life. Seratiani, who lives in the small Maasai village in Mnindi, never thought she would ever see them again.

Seratiani making the gourds

When we arrived, Seratiani was so excited to see them. She greeted them with big hugs and smiles. Mama Seratiani was also very happy to finally meet all the people who had helped give her daughter a chance for a healthy life. It was a beautiful moment to see all the people who had worked so hard to take care of this Maasai woman be reunited at her home in Mnindi and see her so happy and healthy.

beaded gourd

While visiting her home, we got a taste of the Maasai culture. All the women, which included three American, two Kenyans, three Maasai, and a Tanzanian, observed as Seratiani and her mother began making beaded gourds. In the Maasai culture, they use these gourds to store milk and keep it cool. However, Ashley was hoping to bring one home to use it for wine. Ashley, Terri, and I originally thought that we would be making our own gourds. However, we soon came to realize that this was too complicated of a task for three mzungus.

Ruth and me playing

As we watched them stitch the leather and decorate the gourds with their complex beadwork, I got to play with Seratiani’s beautiful daughter Ruth. Ruth is very shy and clings to her grandmother most of the time so I was very excited when she started to get comfortable enough with me to laugh and play with her toy animals. She has a beautiful smile and the cutest laugh so everyone was very excited to see her playful side come out.