Updated: Feb 16
Christine Lenkai is a livestock keeper from Ngatatoek ward in Kajiado County in Kenya. With her 130 goats and other livestock, Christine values her animals as an essential part of her life and livelihood. She understands the importance of caring for her goats and ensuring their well-being. She spends countless hours tending to their needs, from providing them with food and water to ensuring their health and safety.
In the Maasai community, livestock such as goats and sheep are more than just mere animals. They are symbols of wealth, sources of food and income, and a critical aspect of cultural practices. Animals also play an important role in the Maasai culture. For instance, when a girl from the Maasai community is getting married, goats must be given to her family to mark the payment of the bride price. The Maasai community places great importance on their livestock, and the number of goats given as part of the bride price is a measure of the groom's wealth and status. In some cases, the bride price can reach up to hundreds of goats, and it is a significant investment for the groom's family. The exchange of goats during a wedding is a way for the two families to come together and acknowledge the importance of livestock in their lives and in the Maasai culture. For these reasons, the Maasai community cannot ignore the importance of their goats and other livestock in their lives.
Christine Lenkai knows this too well. However, these animals are also vulnerable to diseases that can ravage their herds, threatening their livelihood and their pastoralist way of life.
One such disease is Orkipei, a contagious and often deadly disease that affects both goats and sheep. This disease can spread quickly, wiping out entire herds, and leaving farmers like Christine with few options for survival. That is why she was grateful to hear of a vaccination drive in her area, aimed at protecting animals from this devastating disease.
For Christine, the loss of even a single goat can be a heavy blow. These animals are critical to her family's livelihood and their future. That is why she didn't hesitate to bring her 130 goats to the vaccination drive. She knew that this was the best way to protect her herd, and ensure that they remain healthy and safe from the dangers of Orkipei.
It is not just Christine who recognizes the importance of vaccination drives. The entire Maasai community understands the value of their livestock and the role they play in their lives. From providing food to generating income to being a critical aspect of cultural practices, these animals are an essential part of their identity and their way of life.
That is why initiatives like the one organized by Action for Protection of Animals Africa, in partnership with the Kajiado County Government, are so crucial. By providing access to vaccines, we help to protect the animals and the livelihoods of farmers like Christine. By keeping her goats safe from Orkipei, she can continue to care for her herd, secure her future, and pass down the traditions of her community to the next generation. She knows that until the next round of vaccinations, her goats will remain safe from this deadly disease.
"We take so much pride in our livestock as they are a symbol of wealth in our community. Animals such as goats also give us meat, milk, and skins. We also sell them and use the money to educate our children. When a Maasai girl is getting married, goats must be given to her family to mark the payment of the bride price. For these reasons, we cannot ignore the importance that animals play in our lives." Says Christine.
For livestock keepers like Christine Lenkai, the threat of diseases like Orkipei is always present. But with the support of organizations like Action for Protection of Animals Africa, and the commitment of government bodies like the Kajiado County Government, herders like Christine can rest assured that their animals will be protected, and their livelihoods will be secure. By investing in the health and well-being of their herds, we can help to safeguard the future of entire communities and ensure that their cultural traditions and way of life will be sustained for generations to come.