In December of 2011, Laura Ash moved to Tanzania with her family in hopes to light the country with solar energy. A few months later the small family went on a safari and ended up at Kirurumu lodge above Lake Manyara in the Great Rift Valley. There, Laura went on a plant walk with a Maasai herbalist, Sayanga. After that walk, and a plethora of questions, Sayanga asked Laura to help him document his traditional medicine knowledge.
Laura was then invited to the Misigiyo village in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the home location of Sayanga’s village (boma) for more than 100 years. Within a year of multiple plant and identification excursions, safari’s, sacred retreats, video documentation and the support of the community of Maasai herbalists, villagers, the chief and his wives, the Maasai fieldwork is complete.
By August 2014 Sayanga had received 100 books, most of which he has sold to local safari lodges and a small portion he has kept for the local primary schools to teach the young Maasai children their traditional medical knowledge. The remaining 400 books will be sent to Sayanga at quantities of 100 at a time within the next 3 years. The funds that are coming from the sale of the books are buying a cow for the traditional Orpul and keeping his village from using sustenance farming as a method of financial gain, keeping their traditional food lifestyle thriving.
We are currently applying for funds in order to do a five year evaluation of the impact of the Misigiyo Maasai project focusing on the health of mothers and babies, continued use of traditional medicines, and how the protection of Intellectual Property is utilized the community at large.