Researcher, Mother and traveler

Mama Ondoilo

Mama Ondoilo

Last week I had the opportunity to go back to the ward where we did our ONDOILO research in the years 2018 till 2022. The project focused on sexual and reproductive health among Maasai and specifically on birth control after I was asked by one of them to educate them on the Uzazi wa Mpango (Family planning) programme of Tanzania.

Famtrips I may call myself lucky to be the wife of someone who has a safari company, Caracal Tours & Safaris Tanzania LTD. Sometimes we are invited for what is called a famtrip, literally a trip to familiarize yourself with the products your selling. A few weeks ago, we were invited to see the upgrades of Isoitok Camp and despite that I have been there numerous times, I decided to check it out. It is a four hour drive from Moshi and a famtrip is not a relaxing thing as it means getting all the insights of, in this case, the lodge.

Isoitok Camp We arrived at the camp after a beautiful long drive through Maasai and volcanic area in the Rift Valley. Isoitok Camp is beautifully situated in the bush where natural elements are kept and a choir of birds accompanies you all the time. What strikes me every time when I am in this area, are the colours of the unspoiled nature and skies that perfectly blend with the whole camp.  Walking to the common area I was hugged large by Ndeeni, one of our former research assistants. After dropping our luggage in the cozy decorated tents, we immediately went for a sundowner walk passing a new bush lunch area and having a medicine talk from my friend Mbayani. The views from the sundowner spot were as usual amazing. Following a delicious dinner under the starry skies, we went to bed, enjoying the nightly sounds of the bush. But we knew we had to wake up early…

Boma visit At 6:30 we were woken up with coffee and cookies at our tent and right away we started walking to the nearby boma. We came just on time as the hundreds of cow were about to leave the boma for a full day of grazing green grasses (El Niño brought rains and green pastures this year). The ladies were whispering with each other and then I heard ‘Ni mama Ondoilo (that’s mama Ondoilo)’. I laughed as that could indeed be my name. We were all so happy to see each other again in this beautiful setting. It felt like coming home and I could only hope to find more research grants to work with this fantastic community again. 

Side note: this year has been a good year after many years of extreme drought. But we know that once El Niño is over, the drought will come back. Maasai are struggling as during such times, they have very little food for their cattle, leading to less food for their children with all kinds of health complications. With my team at KCRI, we are trying hard to write for reserach grants focusing on the right intervention for this vulnerable group and others.