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The Gathering with Chief Olepello

Today I felt like I was in a movie, playing a role, although I didn't understand a word.

It is hot. At eleven o'clock, a meeting is arranged in the shade of the only big tree far and wide. It is the tree under which Kaira began teaching a handful of children Swahili, the national language, in 2013. A special feature of today's meeting is that women are also invited. The first participants are slowly arriving. Two hours later, (yes really!), at 1 p.m., one of the chiefs opens the meeting. The western concept of time doesn't exist, so no one gets upset about having to wait - to pass the time, one either talks or takes a nap.

The chiefs explain that the drought has prevented many from attending. It has forced men to move far away with their herds to look for food. Indeed, on the way there, we saw the poor skinny cattle, some of them too weak to get up. Like a starving train of prisoners they dragged themselves along...

Various speeches are held - of which I don't understand a word. Kaira explains to me that everyone is delighted that I am here today, and they are looking forward to getting to know me. They see the establishment of a school as a historic moment. When I address a few words to everyone (Kaira translates), the following applause touches me very much. The women smile at me and shake my hand.

Later we meet the chief of the entire Maasai region, Chief Olepello. To my delight, he can even speak a little English, so I finally understand something!

Like the regional chiefs before him, he reaffirms his full confidence in Kaira. You have to know that Kaira is very young and does not belong to the decision-making age group. Chief Olepello also expresses his full respect for me, sealed with a kiss on the hand. After a short consultation, I receive my Maasai name: NAMELOK: "Sweet, sweet forever", he says.

"Sweet" refers to both outer and inner beauty. They think the name is appropriate because Kaira and I are creating something lasting that will probably extend beyond our lifetimes. I hadn't even thought of that!

In this sense, may our work - with your help - succeed, prosper and bear fruit for a long time!

By the way, Chief Olepello was once invited to a meeting of old, deep-rooted cultures in Sweden together with the Dalai Lama and a chief from North America.

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