Counting the Moms and Babies

Counting the Moms and Babies

November 1, 2022

We love these beautiful people of the Maasai. Sparkling, under the weight of beads and bangles around their necks, they twinkle and flash in the light while their reds, yellows and purples paint color onto the drab, dusty plains of East Africa.

They love to sing as they come to greet us into their village.

Some of you have asked if we do follow up and keep records of the moms and babies saved by the midwives who have gone through our safe birthing training. Well, Yes, we do! Six weeks after their training we go out to count the number of deliveries and moms and babies.

But it is always fun to see them dance before we get down to work.

With the men chanting and jumping, they tell the stories of bravery in killing the lion or winning the most beautiful bride, or their clever outwitting of the hyena.

Their impossible jump from a standing position is probably enhanced by the thick rubber tire sandals on their feet, good for 50,000 miles or more!

It takes practice to make the heavy beads bounce on their shoulders as the women sing while the men jump.

But we had gone out to check on how many babies they have each delivered, how many moms or babies were lost and what challenges they faced. Mercy keeps records.

Nanny Juliette, a Maasai, helps Mercy in record keeping and translating.

This trip we had taken a group led by Janice Phelps from Chickasaw, Oklahoma with her friends, Judy McClure and Ileta Duffie. We think it is good for our volunteers to see a part of Africa that is not the beautiful green oasis of Neema Village.

Twenty TBAs came in for the meeting. We have been trying to help them find ways to replace the income they will lose by stopping the FGM ceremonies. We had learned recently that the older women are paid for their FGM cutting services. As we encourage them to give that up they lose that income.

Uji is a common breakfast porridge for babies and can be cheaply made with nine different products, like rice, corn, millet, and other various grains, which are then ground into meal for a healthy porridge for babies. We showed them how to make it and they each got a bag to take home.

We left some big sacks of grains for them to make more small bags to sell. We have also taught them soap making and of course jewelry and we are always on the lookout for other ways to supplement their incomes.

They told us they had no food and as we later went into their homes we could see they had very little in their kitchens.

In times of drought, the children always seem to be the first to suffer. This little guy is headed out to watch the goats all day. He has his staff for snakes, his water and a long machete tucked under the belt on his back for a possible lion or hyena.

The cupboard was bare but they still love to invite you into their homes.

Children are the same around the world and a soccer ball is always a big hit. Baraka, our shop director at Neema is like a big kid himself and loves to play soccer with the kids. You can see the big knife tucked in the young boy’s belt on his back in this photo.

With no rain there is very little water to drink much less to bathe the kids.

Below, an old dead tree makes a fine motorcycle, and topped off with a red lollypop it’s a mighty fine day!

At this village we were concerned enough about them starving that we sent Ramah out with a truckload of food the next week. We might not can feed all 6 million Maasai but we can feed this one and if we will all feed just one, we can get this done!

We pray they have water to cook the corn, rice and beans we sent out. Without the rains this year we are hearing stories of cattle dying and even the children. We were told of women walking all day to line up for government water from a spigot, waiting all night in the line only to have it shut off before they could get to the front of the line. We just have no concept of how hard getting water is for most of the women of this world, do we?

Class number fifteen of the Saving The Mothers training at Neema Village is finished. That makes about 165 birthing attendants better trained to save mothers and babies. Thank you Kelle Samsill, Janiece Watts, Marquisette Bickford, Julia Prior and Heidi Hanson for helping out with the class and teaching the morning devotionals for the women.

All five of these beautiful Neema kids above; Meshack, Julius, Elesha, Maria and Ema in front, with Babu Michael are Maasai. Bless you for loving them. They are in Neema sponsored boarding schools and foster care programs. They are pretty smart kids, all making straight As in school. It’s time to begin looking for a university for them!

We can never say thank you enough for all you do for the babies and moms of Neema Village! I think one day they will though, don’t you?

Michael and Dorris Fortson