February 28, 2013
Our European Representative Cecilie Malm Brundtland (on the left, in the photo above) led the Bergum family on a site visit to attend the opening ceremony of their first clean water project, in Masikita, Kenya, in memory of Lene Maria Bergum. Here is Cecilie’s report, in her own words:
Kim Riseth (editor) + Bjørn Tore Ness (photographer) from [Norwegian newspaper]Namdalsavisa joined the trip with Jørgen Roll [a Voss Foundation supporter]and me. BT’s niece was Lene Maria’s best friend, who had her on her lap when she was shot on 22 July [2011, at the attack at Utøya], so he had been very involved with the Bergums. Namdalsavisa has also been following the whole fundraising story from the very beginning – giving NOK 10,000 as one of the first donors in March 2012.
February 19 (Tuesday)
Cecilie, Jørgen, Kim and Bjørn Tore flew down together, met the Bergums. We were told that K+BJ planned to post small videos at www.namdalsavisa.no everyday telling about the trip.
February 20 (Wednesday): Milgis to Langata Ngiteng
One hr 15 mins north. The landscape was green and fruitful where we saw all the small pieces of land cultivated by the Kikuyus. After a while the land got more and more arid, passing Mount Kenya on our right. Flying further north thinking how unbelievable that people can live up here with all their cattle and goats. When we were about to land, between mountains, it was quite scary as one can´t see the “air strip” – but the pilot (a woman) managed to get us safely down – near Elkanto.
Helen and Pete [of Milgis Trust, Voss Foundation’s partner in Kenya], 3 camels and some Samburus were waiting. They had made breakfast – coffee, tea and eggs – by the airstrip.
It was hot, dry and dusty when the airplane left. In order to reach Masikita we had to drive for 1.5 hours – west from Milgis Lugga. We used two cars, driving down dry river beds, under trees and at a kind of a road… Then we caught up with all the camels and started to walk…
That day we only walked for about 2 hours – Pete said about 6 km. Arrived at camp – had a soda and shade. Lunch served –and people started to cheer up. K+BT had all the equipment to send updates to the newspaper. They had to sit in the sun for the solar cells to charge and send report but turned out that the cable did not work so car picked one up from Elkanto [Milgis Trust’s base camp].
We had a very short walk before dinner – then card-games, dinner and sleep.
The place we camped is called “The place for the cows” – a place that usually is full of Samburus watering their herds – but empty this time because of the unrest in the area. [We had extra security to be safe.]
February 21 (Thursday): Langata Ngiteng to Masikita (about 16 km)
We got up early next day, and knew we had a long walk ahead. The clock was 0530. [Last night]I had told The Bergums to put everything they need out, otherwise it would be impossible to find stuff in the dark morning hours. Coffee, tea served by the log fire. Started walking 0630-0930.
We saw leopard tracks!
Beautiful view over the Masikita lugga – absolutely invaluable for the Samburus. Usually one would see thousands of goats, sheep, cows, camels, grazing in these plains, called the Mbata plains. The only place for water is near the village. Everyone usually take[s]their herds there to graze and drink, so there is quite a lot of pressure on the area. Sometimes the Turkanas, Samburus and Rendille all get water from this same place. Now everyone is scared because of turbulence between the Turkanas and Samburus, so the whole area was deserted. But Helen and Pete believe that the Turkanas and Samburus will soon share water peacefully from the same source, as the unrest is exacerbated by the election in March.
It was easy to understand how valuable the new water project in Masikita is!
We walked down the beautiful but dry hills towards the lugga and the camp. Lemogas [a longtime employee of Milgis Trust’s, who has accompanied us on all of our site visits]heard the “honey-bird” calling for him, telling where he could find honey. Lemogas is a Ndorobo (honey gatherer) – who can live off the land. He can talk to the bird, answering so the bird gets excited and tells him where to find the honey. The custom is that the Ndorobo must leave the larvae in the hive for the bird. You must never let the bird down – otherwise next time the bird will lead you to a buffalo!
The camp we arrived at on Thursday was very beautiful. Trees and plants started to become green – because as Pete said it will commence to rain because of the full moon. It did start to rain. Because of the rain, they stretched a roof, using a [tarp].