Jambo (hello)! Over the course of this summer, I've been incredibly fortunate to become involved with a foundation based in Kenya called Schooling of Samburu. Started by Samburu warrior Francis Lenyakopiro, Schooling of Samburu (or Samburu-SOS) raises money to enable children of the Samburu tribe to attend school and receive an education. The Samburu are a nomadic pastorialist tribe related to the Masaai, who herd their livestock from place to place in search of better pasture and water. The Samburu keep cows, goats, sheep and some camels which provide food in the form of milk, meat and blood. In recent years, droughts in Kenya have wiped out the majority of livestock herds of the Samburu, pushing them into poverty.
Education is expensive in Kenya, with even public schools charging tuition fees that preclude many of the Samburu from attending. One of the things that drew me to this foundation is Francis' conviction that traditional lifestyles are not threatened by a modern education. In his words;
I met Francis on my last trip to San Francisco. I'd already been somewhat involved with the foundation through graphic design work, and since our visits overlapped I had the chance to hear him speak about the organization as well as his life growing up in Kenya. I am still amazed that two people with such vastly different backgrounds and lifestyles could form such an easy friendship, but by the time I left San Francisco a week later there was no doubt in my mind that Francis and I would keep in touch. Our conversations (and trips through the city to show him some of the sights) highlighted the fact that people will always have more in common than the differences that separate them. Though his lifestyle seems completely foreign to me, and I'm sure vice versa, we found many things that are the same, from sibling rivalries and family dynamics to heading over to the next town to go dancing at night. Seeing our shared love of knowledge and exploration and knowing that he was one of the very few from his tribe that had the opportunity to follow his interests and obtain an education made me want to get involved. And so after a month of meetings and brainstorms and conference calls, Samburu-SOS launched its new website (www.samburu-sos.org) this week. It's a place for the organization to speak about their mission and the history of the Samburu, and more importantly, where you can meet and learn about the children we are working to sponsor right now. You can even make donations right on website! If you have a couple of minutes and a few dollars to spare, consider contributing - it's a cause very near to my heart, and the benefits to these children are almost immediate. I'm hoping we'll be able to send them all to school - they definitely deserve the opportunity. To use one of my few learned words of Swahili; asante. Thank you.