Sexual reproductive health rights is a very important program within Maasai communities. Maasai women traditionally perform heavy, grinding manual labor and have little to no access to healthcare. Girls and boys are both circumcised in their youth. The operations for girls are carried out inside bomas (mud huts) and done with unsterile equipment, which can cause painful, life-long complications.
Boys circumcisions are also performed in a mud hut and the surgeries themselves take no more than a couple of minutes. It is important to note that the emorata occurs with no anesthesia whatsoever; it is considered dishonorable to flinch or show pain. In some reports, showing pain or grimacing results in a fine of one head of cattle, or at a minimum, enduring ridicule and shame at the hands of one’s peers and community. To show pain is to bring dishonor to one’s family – a major breach of Maasai cultural values. On the other hand, showing bravery and courage during the emorata is rewarded with praise and a gift of livestock.
The program of sexual reproductive health rights
Our program sexual reproductive health rights will help these marginalized women better understand the inner workings of their own bodies and how to take better care for themselves. They will also learn to control their family planning and support the health of their newborns and growing children.
The program includes regular health screenings, trainings for the midwives, and relevant health education programs like:
- family planning
- hygiene and sanitation
- First Aid
- HIV/AIDS and STDs
- reproductive health
- dental care
- empower women
- and more.
All year long they suffer from Malaria, back pain, headaches and congestion.
During the cold season, they also suffer most from chest pain, pneumonia and cough.
During the rainy season, they also suffer from fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
During the dry season they also suffer chest pain, eye problems, skin problems, joint pain, diarrhea and vomiting; some of which they attribute to having to use more refined cooking oil because the shortage of grass causes their cattle to produce less milk and gee.
How they threat illness
When they are sick, they go to their traditional healers, who give them “dawa” (medicine) made from tree bark, leaves & roots. Only if the patient worsens after days or weeks will he or she be taken to a health clinic.
All the women give birth at home with only the help of a traditional birth attendant. They will usually only visit a health facility once after delivery when the baby is about six months old, at which time the mother is able again to walk the long distances to and from the clinic. In the Maasai culture, a new mother will go without sexual intercourse for three years after her baby is born and during which time she is breastfeeding. They do not know about any other methods of birth control.
None of them have any real understanding of HIV/AIDS. A few heard the word on the radio but they don’t believe that they know anyone with the disease and none can say what is is or how it is transmitted.
Most Maasai eat one meal per day, mostly porridge and ugali (made of corn flower). The children often also get cow milk mixed with cow blood in the morning. Maasai think that’s the best meal for their children.
After making a small hole in the neck of the cow, the Maasai collect the blood
Nobody of the 7000 Maasai in this area has access to a latrine. They all go to the ‘toilet’ in the bush and have no idea about the importance of cleanliness or hygiene.