Pachamama Maasai Urafiki Initiative

Pachamama is dedicated to providing unique and thought-provoking educational experiences in learning environments steeped in nature, creativity and sustainability.

Diversity is more than a matter of compliance at Pachamama – it is a way of life.

Our Educators are as diverse as the United Nations and actively promote cross-cultural experiences every day. It is with this perspective that the Pachamama Maasai Urafiki Initiative was created, which includes an inter-continental Teacher Exchange Program.

In July 2018, Pachamama’s Director Kristen McPhail and her family visited the Olasiti Maasai village and warmly welcomed by the whole community with a traditional dance ceremony. The McPhails were hosted with generous hospitality and honoured by the community’s Elders with a special goat feast prepared by their young Morans.

On behalf of Pachamama, the McPhails met with the Elders and the Chairman of the School Board – both strongly endorsing this cooperative Urafiki initiative and agreeing to allow their teachers to visit Australia to further develop their teaching skills. The teachers have expressed strong and genuine interest in sharing their culture and developing meaningful connections with our Educators, children and families.

McPhail Family hosted by community Elders
Teacher Benjimin guiding students at Olasiti
Teacher Benjimin Speaking Image
Teacher Benjamin wearing traditional Maasai shuka, adorned with beaded items handmade by community women

Introducing Teacher Benjamin

As a young child, Benjamin Kool gained an education while living in a community where education, at that time, was not a priority. He walked 32 km through a game reserve in Amboseli to the nearest primary school in another village – learning skills along the way to protect himself from the dangerous wildlife. 

After finishing high school, Benjamin convinced his community to allow him to start a primary school under their shade tree to educate their young children. The group of young students grew in number and years later, with financial support from a tourist, a wooden schoolhouse was built. This was later extended by families of All Saint’s College under the guidance of Dr Geoffrey Shaw, the then Principal.

benimin kool teacher visit
Teacher Benjamin at All Saints College in 2010

Olasiti Primary School now engages 4 teachers and educates 150 students between 4 to 12 years old. The financial resources are such that the teacher’s wages of US$20 per month are only paid due to the generous donations received from international tourists.

In addition to being a teacher, Benjamin has also served as an Elected Member of the Kajiado County Assembly representing the Maasai’s interests to the government.

What does Urafiki mean?

Although each Maasai tribe communicates with its own unique dialect, the official language of Kenya is Swahili. In Swahili, ‘urafiki’ means ‘friendship.

Pachamama is keen for our children and Educators to build friendships and learn about another culture through engagement with students at Olasiti Primary School. We have commenced a pen pal project between our two schools, and the children are engaging and exchanging ideas. Our Educators use Facebook messenger to also connect and communicate on a regular basis.