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‘Quench’ screening at DelVal raises funds to help the Maasai people of Kenya

Oct 24, 2014

Maasai Cultural Exchange Project

Credit: Delaware Valley College. Standing outside of the Life Science Building at Delaware Valley College, from left to right: Phyllis Eckelmeyer, co-founder of Maasai Cultural Exchange Project; Ryan Owens '17, public relations chair for Students for Diversity; Mildred Timando Lemaiyan; Daniel Salau Rogei; Tanaya Bailey '15, vice president of Students for Diversity; Francis ole Sakuda; and Russell Redding, dean of agriculture and environmental sciences.

For the 5,000 members of the Maasai tribe in Kenya, getting water, something that many in the U.S. take for granted, is a daily struggle, which involves traveling for miles.  Delaware Valley College student groups Alpha Phi Omega and Students for Diversity in collaboration with Maasai Cultural Exchange Project (MCEP) raised $2,220.00 to fund greenhouse and water projects to help the Maasai tribe improve access to potable water and sustainable food sources. The students chose this international fundraising service project as part of their cultural diversity program. Tickets from the Oct. 16 screening of the documentary “QUENCH,” shown in the campus’s Life Science Building brought in the majority of the $2,220 in donations. Items created by the Maasai were also sold on campus during Multicultural Week.  More than 200 people viewed the screenings of this half-hour film focused on the lives and culture of the Maasai tribe.

“I think it is a great opportunity to have the Maasai here on campus visiting classes and presenting the screening of this documentary,” said Tanaya Bailey ’15, vice president of Students for Diversity. “It definitely opens up DelVal and makes people look at the College in a different light. We want to raise awareness about the issues the Maasai are dealing with, get donations and help as many people as we can. I feel blessed to have been part of this and I’m so proud of Students for Diversity and Alpha Phi Omega.”

During the week Maasai guests Francis ole Sakuda, Daniel Salau Rogei and Mildred Timando Lemaiyan shared and received knowledge when they visited DelVal’s classes, greenhouses and the apiary. At the screening, DelVal President Dr. Joseph Brosnan welcomed the guests. The Maasai NGO, Simba Maasai Outreach Organization (SIMOO) coordinates programs with MCEP.

Water is scarce for the Maasai who depend on wells that are miles from their villages. Women wake up early and walk for miles to fill large containers with water that have to last families all day. Their livestock, which they depend on for survival, have to walk to get water as well and often die on the way.  MCEP has been working to install wells for the Maasai to help with this problem. So far seven have been installed and the goal is to get up to 10 wells, which would improve the quality of life for the Maasai. Due to the work of the MCEP, 5,000 Maasai have access to wells and pipelines that they didn’t have before.

More than 200 people attended the screenings of 'Quench' at DelVal.

Credit: Delaware Valley College. More than 200 people attended the screenings at Delaware Valley College of 'Quench' a new documentary about the Maasai. The event raised $2,200 to help the Maasai with greenhouse and water projects.

Three greenhouses installed by MCEP recently sustained severe wind damage to the plastic coverings causing an interruption of the food production that fed 5,000 members in their village. If the DelVal students are able to raise $3,000, they will be able to fund the installation of a greenhouse for the Maasai. The students will continue their fundraising efforts for Maasai water and greenhouse projects.

Sakuda, Rogei and Lemaiyan spoke to eight college classes, toured agricultural sites and participated in food security and diversity panels. A final meeting was held with Russell Redding, DelVal’s dean of agriculture and environmental sciences where the Maasai described the challenges they face growing crops and raising livestock. The Maasai is an indigenous tribe whose pastoral way of life has been marginalized by government policies.

How to Help: To learn how to get involved or, to donate to the projects, please visit: maasaiculturalproject.org