People of Kenya: My Kenyan Family

While staying in the Mara we lived and worked at the MERC (Maasai Education, Research and Conservation Institute) Dopoi center.

The staff at MERC were amazing. I am happy to call many of them friends and they are our Kenyan family now. Part of the culture of the Maasai is naming their children in a ceremony. After being at the camp for about 10 days and after much observation and discussion each of us (Americans) was given a Maasai name in a special ceremony. We are now a part of their family. So I would like to introduce you to My Kenyan family.

Meitamei Ole Keiwa George
Charles Musa, photo by Alpha Parsaloi

My brothers (ololashe lai)

Alpha Stanley Isaac

He is the founder and director of MERC and the "father" of the camp.

This picture was taken at the graduation ceremony where we were all able to witness the passion he has for the work he does.

He is very inspiring and the most involved activist I know. He uses his knowledge, education, influence and love of his people to fight their land rights, educate the upcoming generation to be guides. He also teaches and hosts programs liked Global Resolve at the MERC.

He did so much to make my stay a great one including setting up a wonderful all day game drive with Nick so I could get more fantastic pictures for Global Resolve.

Ole Keiwa
He was our Maa language and culture teacher.

He is pictured here is teaching us greetings such as "Enkakenya Sidai" or "Good Morning"
We had many Maa language lesssons and a very interesting cultural lesson on the Maasai Cultural cycle. He also led the fireside chats.

He was very kind and friendly and made me feel very welcome at camp.

In this picture George is in blue and is showing the group the newly dug borehole which will supply water to the water tower and then to the surrounding community.

As Parsaloi would say, George is "Very Water".

Here Charles Takai is pictured in front of of the water kiosks or stations that are being built to supply water to the community. Charles is the program manager for the MERC's water projects.

He has been a part of a lot of community projects in Kenya and is now spending his time in the Mara working on the water project. He was very friendly and helped me get great pictures of the water project and the community.


One day while we were waiting for the other students to go into town, Musa hoped out of the van and asked me to take this picture of him. He and Alpha were the drivers for the camp. Musa is very affectionate and outgoing and so willing to help us.

Parsaloi is "Very City". He is the one that goes to the city (Nairobi) and pick up the people and bring them back to camp. It is a 5-6 hour drive from Nairobi to the MERC center. He is the friendly face and kind welcome of MERC.

He is full of life and energy and was a lot fun to be around. I had so much fun taking pictures with him on the way to graduation and watching him dance that night at camp.

Alpha is "very driver" and oh so patient! We had good conversations and became very good friends (olchore sidai). Here he is driving with Parsaloi and I in the front seat on the way to the graduation ceremony.

He was always eager to learn and was the first one that I did photography lessons with.

As Parsoloi would say, he is "very receipts" or the bookkeeper for the camp.

He was also the model for Alpha during the photography lessons. I spent a lot of time with him and Alpha. My favorite was teaching Stanley a word of the day, which included: bougainvillea, bandanna and agave.

Here Isaac is posing after his photography lesson. I am a morning person and was often up editing when Isaac was cleaning the common area. I mentioned at the beginning of the post that we got Maasai names. Part of the ceremony includes someone that already has a Maasai name presenting you for your name. Isaac was the person that presented me.

Not pictured:
Mpoke, the night guard
Keiwa, the camp manager
The awesome cooks!

I miss my Kenyan family. They were so kind, generous and welcoming. My life is truly touched by knowing them and living with them for three weeks. I cherish the time we shared together.

Kenya series
Birds of Kenya
Share My World: Being a photographer for Global Resolve
Share My World: 3 days in Nairobi
Olmeut- Giraffe
Colors of Kenya
Share My World: Drive from Nairobi to the Maasai Mara
Olkinya Lasho -Cheetah
Share My World: Camp life on the Maasai Mara
Olngatuny -Lion
Olowuru Keri -Leopard

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