Members of the Maasai tribe from southern Kenya donned traditional dress to performa spectacular display of music and dance for residents of the Banbury Foyer.
The group visited the foyer, a Sanctuary Carr-Gomm scheme which provides accommodation and support for 16 to 25-year-olds, on Wednesday as part of a four-month trip to England where they have been visiting schools, churches and organisations to raise awareness of their culture and support the fundraising efforts of The African Children’s Fund.
They talked to the young people about the Maasai way of life, their culture and how they can help the Maasai to educate their children. They also explained how they had adapted to the English way of life during their visit, joking about the novelty of discovering a ‘hole in the wall’ cash point for the first time and how they had quickly become accustomed to eating hamburgers and other fast food!
Maggie Davies, manager at the foyer said: “We felt very privileged to be given the opportunity to welcome members of the Maasai tribe into our scheme.
“It was an important educational experience for our residents, some of whom have never been abroad.
“The day went really, really well and was so beneficial for the residents. They spent a lot of time researching the Maasai before the visit to learn about their culture. Everyone really enjoyed it and hopefully it will provoke further discussion in the future.”
Banbury Foyer resident, 17-year-old Dan Hanwell said: “I thought the day was brilliant, learning all about the different culture and backgrounds of the Maasai tribe. The singing and dancing was excellent and it was a real boost for the foyer to have had this excellent opportunity.”
Fellow resident, 17-year-old Declan Allen added: “I got up and danced and it was good fun, I enjoyed it. The Chief gave me his shawl and I jumped with the rest of them. It’s different but I had fun and they are nice people.”
The leader of the tribe, Peter Lepaso Masek spoke to the residents in his native tongue Maa, which was translated by his fellow tribe member John Kantai.
He said: “You are very kind-hearted people and have really accepted us over here.”
John added: “I really enjoyed the foyer, it’s a nice place with nice people. The people have been lovely and very welcoming – very kind-hearted. “
The tribe’s visit to England has raised around £4,500 which will be used by The African Children’s Fund to improve access to water for the Maasai people so their children can receive a better education rather than travelling around with their cattle trying to find water. This could include improving methods of water harvesting and creating bore holes.
Chief Executive of the charity, Peter Tyrer said: “The African Children’s Fund needs to constantly increase awareness of what we are trying to do. It’s not rocket science that’s needed to solve many of the problems, it’s simple things like water and food.”
Maasai children are prevented from receiving a better education because they have to travel around with their families need to find water and grazing for their cattle. For girls the lack of sanitary wear also prevents them from attending school so they get behind with their education.
To find out more about the work the charity does visitwww.africanchildrensfund.org