It Takes a Village to Raise a Sarah

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    During the three night home stay with the Maasai, I had a very unique experience, not only did I get to participate in the daily routine of a Maasai women, I also had a few unexpected surprises as well.  My home stay started out just like all the others, the "mamas" came to pick us up from campsite singing together as the group lined up in front of them holding walking sticks waiting to be chosen. After the singing finished the "mamas" stepped forward to pick which one of us they wanted to host in their boma for the weekend. Personally I was more terrified for this home stay than the pervious two we have done, but once my "mama" chose me, all my fears vanished. My "mama" was young, tall, and beautiful with the most welcoming smile I have ever seen. As all the "mamas" and their newly adopted children walked back to their individual bomas, Amy pointed out to me during the walk back that my mom looked very pregnant. I mistakenly brushed this off thinking that if my "mama" was pregnant she couldn't be more than a few months along. To my surprise that my “mama” was actually in labor on our walk back home and she didn't say a word! However, I didn't find this out until Sophie, who was in the same boma with Kaitlyn, and me were having chai together in my "mama's" house and were told by the translator, Pillinoi, "(Sarah) your mama is going to have a baby now." To be honest I don't think neither Sophie nor I have ever been so shocked! It turns out that there was a little miscommunication, that my "mama" wasn't going to have the baby at that exact minute, but she was in labor and going to have the baby soon. This however, took Sophie and I sometime to figure out, as it was a little hard to understand the translator. While we worked through the details of what was going on, Sophie and I confirmed that I would not be the only one in the house when my "mama" was giving birth (thank goodness!). After being told my “mama” was in labor I envisioned myself alone in this strange house that was made of cow dung and filled with smoke having to figure out how to help my mom deliver a baby! And worst of all, my "mama" only spoke Maa, so I could only communicate by hand gestures and sounds. Talk about a nightmare of a home-stay! Luckily it was not the case and I was relocated to the house next door to sleep in for the night. This was when I encountered my second and third "mama" of my boma home stay. The house I moved into turned out to be owned by my "mama's" mother-in-law, but was being occupied by another daughter-in-law that was living there while her boma was being built. The mother-in-law, or I guess my host “grandmother” ended up taking my place in my "mama's" house in order to help with delivering the baby. After a long night of fighting off the creep crawly bugs and rustling chickens, I was woken up at 3 A.M.  to see the new baby that was less than an hour old! It was so tiny and adorable.
    However, after the first night of my home stay, my adventures were far from over. Because my mom couldn't really be my host, since she was dealing with this new baby thing, I was instead shown the Maasai way-of-life by my “grandmother”, the second daughter-in-law, Sophie's and Kaitlyn's "mamas". This brought my total number of "mamas" taking care of me to five! All were concerned about my experience during the home stay and coordinated to make sure I ate, participated in chores, and daily activities. The chores and activities included fetching water, collecting firewood, milking the cows, and beadwork. On the second night another conflict came up. The husband of the daughter-in-law that I was staying with was supposed to arrive late that night. I of course couldn't stay in the same house if the husband was there because that would be inappropriate, so instead I was relocated to Kaitlyn’s “mama’s” house for the night. This turned out to be an okay move since I had been feeling a little sick from some bad uji I had had earlier that day, but what I didn't expect was that I would spend the next night with Kaitlyn as well! This was because the husband of course didn't come the first night he was supposed to therefore the "mama's" thought he might come the next, which means I couldn't stay in the house again. This experience showed me the interwoven connections the Maasai have with each other, especially those living in the same boma. Instead of leaving me with a "mama" that couldn't really show me the daily life of a Maasai, the rest of the boma got together to make sure I had good experience, that I can appreciate for years to come.

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