Mike Carter Shares Poignant Experiences from in-country

Lepilali and Family

Mike Carter is on an amazing journey of personal and global impact to educate children in East Africa . His heartwarming and enthusiastic reflections are candidly captured in his blog. Below is a recent excerpt. Learn more about his campaign

After leaving the school at Makuyuni we drove about 4 miles farther west and turned onto a small dirt path and headed off the road. We stopped about 1 km from the road in the shade of an acacia tree and ate our box lunch. The view of the African plain was amazing. As far as you could see in every direction were arid highlands. To the west, off toward the horizon were the mountains of Ngorongoro region. To the south was the Tarangire National Park. Scattered around the plains were hundreds (maybe thousands) of small huts where Maasai families lived. I didn’t really know what we were doing quite yet (although I think I was told) but after lunch we were going to visit the home of Asante Africa Foundation Scholar and Leadership Incubator Alumni, Lepilali Ngoilenya. When he was a child he had walked the 7km (each way) to Makuyuni to attend primary school. He was now in the front of our Land Cruiser navigating our way across the plain marred only by footpaths and the occasional plot of farmed soil.

Lepilali himself has been a Facebook friend of mine for the last several months. Our friendship has been quite one-sided with me never really knowing what to say in response to his posts or chat questions. It’s more than just the ten-hour time difference and the fact we have never met. It’s mostly my fear of the unknowns from his culture. Well — welcome to his world!

After lunch under the shade of the acacia tree (in absolutely perfect weather) our driver, Albert, picked his way through the last kilometer or so to the edge of a collection of a half dozen or so mud huts that were the home of Lepilali’s family. We were greeted by several children and adults and soon thereafter by the elder in the group, Lepilali’s father. He (and the other adult males) were dressed in traditional Maasai robes (with western T-shirts underneath). The family could not have been more welcoming. Chickens (and baby chicks) ran around the area freely. The goats were enclosed in a traditional pen made of local dead vegetation. Reminder to self: After I pass on, when I come back to life, avoid “goat in Africa.” There was no water in sight. Lepilali tells me that during the dry season the nearest water source can be 20 km away and the Mamas walk to get to it.

We were introduced to the family: Lepilali’s father and 2 wives, his grandmother, aunt and cousins. Lepilali’s 4-year-old brother was precious, charming and unafraid of us, but we never heard him say a word in the 4 hours we were there. (He too loved Smarties.)…

We ended the day right at sunset on the plain with a heartwarming session with Lepilali’s father translated first from Ma’a to Swahili and then Swahili to English. He thanked us for visiting but, more importantly for representing those who had made his son’s education possible and given his son the opportunities that would have never been available without assistance. He spoke from the heart and was truly grateful for his son and the opportunity Asante Africa Foundation has given to him. The future of Lepilali is very bright.


He closed by asking one of his wives to give prayer for us and our safe passage. He apologized for having sufficient time to prepare to slaughter a goat in celebration of our visit. He shook each of our hands in a way you seldom feel — like he really meant it. Two language barriers could not stop the tears from dripping down my face. This was an amazing family in the most challenging of environments — just like they had been living in for thousands of years before their sons had Facebook accounts…


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