Turning our herd of organic, grass-fed beef cows onto fresh Ontario pasture every few days was always a joy. We felt it was our way of stewarding our little corner of God’s creation, as our acreage fed the animals and their manure later improved the rest of the farm’s fertility.
Thoughts of cows and grass were strong as I visited Kenyan cattle farmer Damaris Nadupoi Sakuda, a Maasai woman.
Damaris did not have a huge herd tended by young Maasai boys, as was local tradition. No, Damaris’ herd consisted of one cow and calf — of a slightly “improved” breed compared to her grandfather’s.
Unlike the plain-ranging herds of times past, her pair was fenced into a green pasture. And beside that pasture was a deep, hand-dug reservoir, lined with heavy plastic, gradually filling with water from rooftop downspouts. When the dry season arrived, her cornfields and banana trees — unheard of in classic Maasai communities — would have access to another source of water.
We visited Damaris through our partner MIDI, the Maasai Integrated Development Initiative, who supported Damaris through training and farming supplies. This is delicate work for MCC, so it is critical we work with Damaris through a Maasai partner agency. To support alternative farming practices that do not entirely follow tradition can invite questions. But as MIDI leaders themselves see the need to adapt, they are reaching out to MCC for support in trying new techniques so families can thrive in a changing East Africa.
Before we left, Damaris sat us down beneath a spreading acacia tree and told us she was encouraged by the diversified income derived from her tiny plot. We are deeply grateful for your prayerful support as we work in challenging settings with partners eager to provide good food for their communities.
In Christ’s peace,
Rick Cober Bauman
MCC Canada Executive Director