The internet dictionary defines culture as the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society. A culture is particular to the people who practice it. This makes it difficult to compare cultures in terms of superiority and inferiority. However, we can talk about cultural practices that are detrimental to the very people who practice, especially those that violate basic human rights.
There are many factors that are involved in the development of any culture such as enviroment, climatic conditions, economical practices, religious beliefs, gender dominance, etc. Many African cultures are patriarchal which means that men are the center of life and women play the role of making the life of their men comfortable at the expense of their own comfort. Such cultures may sound extreme to other where men and women are regarded almost as equals in dignity.
Through education, bad cultural practices can be changed and the good ones promoted to the maximum. Here in Simanjiro, we work with a community of people where women and children are culturally regarded as instruments of comfort for men. To be born a male in the Maasai community is a privilege though one needs to wait until he becomes of age to enjoy this privilege. However, through education, many women have broken the cultural ceiling and come back to inspire the young ones to aspire higher. Many stakeholders have come up to champion this cultural change but with many challenges.
The Church has always been on the frontline as far as positive cultural change is concerned. The Church plays the role of a trustworthy steward who works at the grass root level to fuel positive change among the people. Many generous individuals, as well as organizations, are able to contribute to a lot of cultural empowerment projects all over the world. one one hand, Resources by themselves cannot make any positive difference in the lives of the people unless there is someone well intended and motivated to do the actual job. On the other hand, the Church would be crippled in its efforts to bring positive change in the communities if it does not have the necessary resources to do so. This makes it paramount to the collaboration between the Church and the donors.
Through this kind of collaboration, we have been able to bring education close to children in villages that otherwise would not have had a chance to go to school. The Gruppo Missionario Caritas Cassago Onlus, we have once again added one more class in Noomoton village and more children will be able to get a nursery school education as they grow older to be able to walk 10 Kilometers through the bushes to the nearest primary school in Narakawo.
This is school is the first permanent structure in the entire village. Other services like vaccinations for children and other goverment outreach services have are now using the facility.
Just like a fruit tree the education process is slow but if well organized, the fruits are likewise far reaching in the transformation of communities.
The people of Noomoton extend their sincerest gratitude to you.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD