- BC Games
Kenyan warriors share fight for education with South Surrey students
With a simple gesture, two warriors became Totems Tuesday.
The distinction – Semiahmoo Totems T-shirts – was bestowed on Wilson Meikuaya and Jackson Ntirkana following a presentation hosted by Semiahmoo Secondary's social-action club, the Globalizers.
Dressed in traditional Maasai warrior garb, Meikuaya and Ntirkana – authors of The Last Maasai Warriors – were invited to the school to share what they experienced in standing up for the right to education.
The two men, who hail from Kenya, were among the last of their generation to participate in the age-old Maasai tradition that required them to kill a lion to become warriors. They are also among the first to be educated.
Meikuaya told the students that he was around three years old when he first learned about school, but his parents told him that "school was a place that took children away from their parents." He was told if he saw people from the government looking for children who were not in school that "we were supposed to run."
As a teenager, Meikuaya's parents told him if he killed a lion, he could attend high school.
"School gives me courage to set a goal for my future," he said.
Semi's Sahir Shivji, who is president of the Globalizers Club, said the club's connection with, and ongoing support of, Free The Children – an international charity that works to empower children and youth as agents of change – facilitated the warriors' visit. The hope was that students would "see the tangible differences we are making by supporting international issues," and be inspired to get involved, he told Peace Arch News.
He and fellow Globalizer Puneet Tatla told students how their support of the club's activities and initiatives has helped globally and locally.
Since its inception, $20,000 has been raised for Free The Children and ACCES (African Canadian Continuing Education Society) Kenya, with funds for the latter helping to build schools and support students in post-secondary education.
Locally, food, clothing, gift and toiletry drives have benefited women's and homeless shelters.
Their efforts have not gone unnoticed.
On Nov. 15, the Globalizers executive from last year – Shivji, Nury Lee, Lisha Huang, Emily Bonshor and Anna Baumgartel – are to be presented with the Giving Hearts Award for Outstanding Youth Philanthropy by the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Vancouver Chapter.
The awards program recognizes and celebrates those who make a difference. It will be presented during an event at the Vancouver Convention Centre.