Last year when I realized I would be traveling to Tanzania I had a thought. Would it be possible to visit Naijoi?
I sponsor a Maasai little girl named Naijoi via the World Vision (WV) organization. In 2007 I went to the World Vision website seeking a little girl to begin a friendship. I knew I wanted to look in Africa but not sure where when Naijoi’s picture appeared with the same birthday as my son. Over the years we have exchanged many wonderful letters and photos. Naijoi’s translator would always end the letters with a phrase saying that I was always welcome in their home. Of course at the time I never had any real expectations of ever actually meeting her but was grateful for our written contact.
Over the years I have received many pictures of Naijoi and her family. She has 4 other siblings and her father, I was told, was blind.
Fast forward to early 2013 when I was planning my trip to Tanzania and Kenya and I thought….I wonder if Naijoi is anywhere near the path of my journey. I mean Tanzania is not a small country, about 1.5 the size of Texas. I landed at the Kilimanjaro airport near Arusha and it turns out that her village in Kisongo was about an hour away.
I contacted WV to request the visit and they arranged everything. Once my security clearance was completed the WV contact made the communication with the local Tanzanian WV office. I arrived a day early for my vacation so that I would be able to make the visit. The WV office collected me in the morning from my hotel in Arusha for the trip to Kisongo. As you can imagine I was extremely excited. I felt like I was living a dream because I never expected that I would ever meet her – ever and I imagine she thought the same.
We arrived at the WV local office first and they gave me an overview of the project that I support. They also gave me a tour of her school along with a nice breakfast. Finally we headed over to her Boma and it was so amazing to actually see her in person. What a gift, this was absolutely an amazing experience. As we pulled up the chaperone said, do you see her, do you know which one she is? One by one I took a look at the kids and I spotted her right away. The only thing I could say is , wow there she is because it was so incredible actually being there with her.
Along with her siblings, I was greeted by her mother and father who was indeed blind. It was interesting in that I didn’t realize how traditional her family was. They entertained me in their Maasai Boma which is built by the women. It’s a round small hut like structure. The family has no electricity and no plumbing. So incredible how they are able to raise families and live in these small structures. There is a separate structure for cooking. Goats and chickens run everywhere. The Maasai are traditionally herders but the cattle where out grazing.
The WV chaperone translated for us as we sat and exchanged questions until it was finally time to leave. Naijoi was a bit shy but did manage to give me a lot of details about school and show work from her math and writing exercise books. She wants to be a teacher one day.
Well after talking and exchanging gifts it was finally time to head back to Arusha. I was fighting back the tears and made sure to give her a big hug as she held my hand and walked me back to the car.
As you can see from the pictures Naijoi is a very special little girl. I am grateful to have her as my friend and over whelmed to have met her. I am praying that she will be able to achieve her dreams in life and also that I will see her again one day. World Vision did an outstanding job of bringing us together. Thank you.