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Ch. 35: Day in the life of a Mama


We want to show everyone what it’s like to be one of the Mamas in our bead workshop. Our mamas live a tough life, one that they love, and in times of harsh drought when running a manyatta things can become extremely difficult.

So when we’re able to assist them by work together on beaded items using their incredible bead and colour skills, it can take a lot of pressure off them.


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Dermeras comes to Ol Malo to bead with us. Her children are all enrolled in our Nomad Schools on the ranch so they all come together each morning.


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A day will always start in the manyatta with hot, sweet tea made from cow, goat, or camel’s milk.


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Shortly after dawn the livestock are sent out with some of her older children who will spend the day grazing and protecting them.


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In times of severe drought her husband may have to take the cattle far away to look for pasture.


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In these times a manyatta can become very lean, with no milk and very little to live off. The extreme drought of 1999 is why we started our bead workshop, to provide responsible relief for these mamas and their children, who were malnourished and in danger of sickness.


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Dermeras and her kids meet up with another mama from a manyatta close by, who is coming into the workshop with her kids.


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Waiting for stragglers


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Arriving at the primary school


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All the kids waiting on the wall for their teacher to arrive


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The teacher cruises in!


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All kids do morning exercises before school to get their bodies and their brains working


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The older kids stay up at the top school while the rest of the group continues on down to the daycare and workshop


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Arriving at the daycare, a school for the younger kids


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The kids mill about waiting for their teacher to tell them they can go to the playground


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And they’re off!


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The playground is all made from found wood, with a huge jungle gym and a swing for two


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Meanwhile the mamas start their work


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All beading is done by hand with traditional materials and ancient techniques


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Today they are working on a new design with leather and beads.


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When it comes to midday another mama is making lunch for all the school kids, and all beading mamas too


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All the kids come down and have their lunch before heading back home in the hot sun


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If you wish to help
Please get in touch with us at or make contact with Sam (US) or Alun (UK)

also check out our donate page to donate online.



Last Chapter we told Julia’s story of the Trust Nomad Education Program. To follow up this week we’ve put together some footage we took of elders blessing a new eco-school in 2011.


The school is in the Kalwalash area of Kipsing in Samburuland and shows the elders blessing the school a few days before it opens. One senior elder is calling the blessing, with everyone replying ‘ngai’ which means god.


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Trust founder Julia Francombe has written this Chapter to tell us her story of how the Trust started its nomad education program and some background on how it works.

The drought in northern Kenya lasted longer than 2 years – the men and warriors left the main homesteads to take their dying herds further afield looking for pasture. It was a terrible time – starving people and mountains of dying cattle.


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Being a kid in Samburuland is like no other childhood.

To be young is to follow strict rules in a loving family environment. There are many eyes watching you with making sure you are learning and behaving. There’s lots of time with grandparents and aunties and uncles and cousins, endless singing and dancing. It’s a rich world of storytelling.




Traditionally the Samburu will have lived off milk and animal blood alone.

Their diet consists of elements that are totally volatile to other cultures, yet they perfectly balance within the extremes of their environment.

Their animals are their only dependable energy source, and would provide everything they need, because of this their welfare is the sole priority in everyday life.




‘The herdsman’s relationship to his domestic animals is . . characterized by neither preying nor becoming a parasite on them . . in bad times, the successful pastoralist loses weight with his herds rather than maintaining it at their expense’ – Mike Rainy

On my first day living with the Samburu, Julia told me that during drought some morani (warriors) would take all the family’s cattle and climb a mountain where there is better pasture for grazing.

1. moran on Lekurugi

They’ll go alone and if the drought becomes extreme the cows will get thinner and thinner and start dying off, and the moran will get thinner with them because he will be living off only their milk.