AVIF is an innovative online charity, assisting with sustainable development via online & onsite volunteering in rural Kenya, East Africa. We work with partner communities in the Brazilian Amazon, Greenland and Tibet too. Being virtual means negligible administration costs for worldwide impact. We believe in efficiency, honesty and transparency. WE DON'T CHARGE FEES.

".. Kenya was my first step in changing my life this is why I cherish this experience so much, as it gave me self confidence and made me know I can do anything and go anywhere and make a difference" Ingie, 2011

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10
Mar

Sex and the Savannah

Written by Alison on Monday, 10 March 2014 12:57. Posted in Blog

 

Anthropology. I love that word because it describes humans. The study of humankind. Devoid of race, nationality, colour, nurture, nature or belief. Just humans.

In the words of Helen Fisher, PhD Biological Anthropologist, Research Professor and member of the Center for Human Evolution Studies, Rutgers University "the world takes on a new centre .. you have intense energy .. elation .. become sexually possessive (with Darwinian purpose) .. experience intense craving obsession & motivation for that person." What is she talking about?

Falling in love.

All across the world, the brain's reaction is the same. And its the same area of the brain that reacts when you take cocaine. Love is a drug. Those who are rejected by love can die from it, or kill because of it! It is probably "the most powerful of the brain systems" says Fisher.

She describes the three main systems that lead to evolution; our sex drive or lust that evolved to get us a partner, romantic love that evolved to allow you to focus on that partner and attachment which evolved so we can "tolerate that human at least while you raise the children" ha ha!

After celebrating International Women's Day all around the world it's truly wonderful to see women are closing the gap back to an equality that we, in fact, always had. We are returning to a state as it always was, as it always has been, especially in the maasai culture. 

To fully understand the changes we need to understand the big picture, our anthropology. That simple fact that Men and Women are not alike, never have been and never will be. We are not equal so we must not misinterpret what "equality" means. Apart from the obvious physical and emotional differences we are as collaborative as positive and negative. Women can talk and analyse whereas men are more focused, women are much more empathic and men are physically stronger. There are many other differences you can read about here but it is the lessons we have in front of us that are important. Moving towards a more collaborative society is the important point, the real definition of "equality".

"We are seeing the rise of female sexual expression, the same we saw in the grasslands of Africa" Fisher says in her TED talk. If you read the interview with Melissa Llewelyn-Davies who spent many years studying and talking to maasai (by Anna Grimshaw) you begin to understand why the maasai women truly are the quintessential pack of women portrayed in Sex And the City. They are the experts of the companionship marriage. They are the answer to girlpower, surrounded by their sisters, mothers, friends and children with their men fully understanding their role. They have deep respect for their men, agreeing wholeheartedly they are not their equals as they know they're not brave enough to fight off a lion. They also know their men provide the seed of their children and they look up to them for this, while knowing full well the men couldn't ever raise the children and weren't ever expected to. There are a great many traditions of the maasai culture that would be frowned upon by todays western woman, but you must have tolerance to have understanding and there are reasons for and against. There are also outdated reasons but that is another debate. What we shouldn't do is simply assume that our own experience of womanhood is everyone elses.

"We were built to reproduce", just as the maasai base their entire lives on reproduction, both their own and of their wealth in their livestock, it seems pertinent to me that a few lessons are drawn from women around the world who are perhaps NOT suffering from our perceived cancer that is sexual inequality. A cancer that like most others, is on its way out too, along with arranged and unhappy marriages. If a maasai man is disrespectful he is fined and made to pay by the women. I like that. He is also made to answer to the group of friends that brought him to trial. That seems like a good system. Overseen by a matriarch and ultimately the elders, just like the elephants do it!

I believe the symbiotic maasai way of life has a few lessons for all of us. Perhaps with less cow-dung and handbags.

If you want to experience this way of life get in touch or support us via the website or Etsy shop or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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11
Feb

Maasai Macarena

Written by Alison on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 05:32. Posted in Blog

***It's Here***

The long awaited video by our fantastic volunteers Robyn, Tori & Poppy.

Please pass it on, RT it and share with friends to help with something amazing.

Bringing water to a beautiful place #RAKnominate someone today 

More details via the Indiegogo campaign page and the wonderful new website www.BUILDJacksonAWELL.com by Robyn Forsythe which features the stunning new giftshop www.EnkiitoMaasaiJewelry.com.

 

 

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06
Jan

Support Nkiito on Indiegogo

Written by Alison on Monday, 06 January 2014 10:28. Posted in Blog

Our campaign page for Nkiito is now live for 60 days on Indiegogo, please take a look.

The page also features Robyn's latest video which is definitely emotional!

Robyn's story - Enkiito, Kenya from Robyn on Vimeo.

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18
Dec

Texting Water to Nkiito

Written by Alison on Wednesday, 18 December 2013 10:52. Posted in Blog

The fantastic taster video from Robyn Forsythe is here. Full length documentary coming in the New Year. Please pass this on and help us help some truly amazing people who've never done anything but live in total symbiosis with nature. The maasai are such a strong proud network with lessons for us all and drilling a well in the area would provide assistance for so many.

You can help with even just a small donation. Click the link top left on this page or (in UK only) text ENK120 £xx to 70070

Wishing you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS xxx

Jackson's story - Nkiito, Kenya from Robyn on Vimeo.

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08
Nov

Kenya Journal Part II

Written by Alison on Friday, 08 November 2013 10:34. Posted in Blog

20/10/13 – NKIITO, KENYA

I get to come back!!

I was telling Jackson my plans for the rest of my excellent adventure here in East Africa and he was very upset that we would be passing through Namanga again and not coming to visit ....so into the itinerary spreadsheet of awesomeness it went (yes, I have an itinerary spreadsheet – have you met me?)

...Jackson told us that the maasai boys with the long hair braids are the trainee warriors, and he’s their teacher. The only way to qualify is to kill a lion (I held my tongue). Jackson has killed a lion! Despite my conservationist tendencies, that’s still beyond impressive. That’s how he was given his lion name, “Sengali”.

....I did some interviews for the water documentary in the afternoon, with Jackson and his mama. The maasai drink one cup of water a day. Their bodies are more accustomed to it, but also there isn’t really enough to drink more than that. I feel guilty every time I drink water, so I tried to cut down, but that made me feel horrendously ill. I can’t get by on less than 1.5 litres a day, and we’re recommended to drink 3 litres when we’re out here.

The whole situation is heartbreaking.

I’m sat here feeling like I’m about to pass out because I’ve only drunk a litre of water today. I’m desperate to get more from the tank, but how can I walk past the children sat outside and take more when they only get one cup a day? As if that weren’t enough, the water hole has dried up since we arrived. The boys have to take the cows 120km every day to Lake Amboseli to drink. And that’s one way.

We’re here– practically on holiday. Having a jolly jaunt down to see the maasai. And at the end of the week we’ll go back to our hotel with its water cooler and showers and washing machine. Jackson and Katisia and Yonda and Baba and all the other amazing people we’ve met will still be here, waiting to see if the rains come this year. Waiting to see if climate change will hold off enough for them to make it through another year until - until... well, it doesn’t bare thinking about.

These are my friends. How – in this day and age- can people who have welcomed me into their family and put a roof over my head be threatened with death because of a lack of water? The government here hasn’t got round to providing them with that basic human right yet. And in the mean time, the rest of the world keeps gobbling up fossil fuels until mother nature isn’t able to provide it for them either.

I have to try to do something.

21/10/13 – NKIITO,KENYA

So I’ll start with baby steps – by making this video as truthful and raw as I can. Hopefully, that can start to make a small difference by assisting AVIF to raise money for the well they hope to build here.  The first stage was a long, detailed, often incredibly distressing interview with Jackson. You will see the result in the teaser film I am hoping to upload on 9/11/13.

I saw an ostrich today. Resisted the urge to shout “Kevin!” and “have you seen a bird? My pack has sent me on a special mission.”

My triumph of the day was as teacher. We found ourselves once again mesmerised by the stars, and Jackson asked what the bara-bara in the sky really was. Where does one begin to explain the planet, the solar system, the galaxy and the universe to a maasai warrior? The – somewhat lacking– sketches in my journal were the glorious result of this endeavour, along with the wide eyed wonder usually reserved for children looking through a telescope for the first time which manifested itself on the face of our favourite maasai warrior.

22/10/13 – NKIITO,KENYA

There were no elephants on this morning’s walk. But that didn’t deter us from creating what turned out to be – in my opinion – our most adventurous day yet. I even shaved my legs in preparation – luxury!

We were lead to a tree just outside the village boundary under which a small group of mamas and their children were sat with a small fire, which had died now to only glowing embers. The little ring of copper wire nestled in between the charcoals, its fiery eyes locked on us; its prey.

I was first. I gripped Jackson’s hand like a vice as the mama swiftly pressed the burning metal into the flesh of my ankle. It was over in a flash. And just like that, I was marked for eternity as the newest member of this little family.

Tori went next. I would love – for her sake – to be the gracious storyteller and tell you the tale of how she sat still and calm, and did not scream either. But alas you know well that I am no such thing!

In the afternoon Jackson taught us how to make chapattis. A surprisingly simple process, onto which he projected the concentration of one trapped in a life or death situation. This was lovingly dubbed Jackson’s “serious chapatti face”,which we continued to imitate for the remainder of our stay.

23/10/13 – NKIITO, KENYA

The water pump is a long way away. And there are innumerable people, donkeys, cows, sheep and goats trying to drink from it. Getting up in the morning and knowing that there is a 3 hour round trip ahead of you before you can eat, drink or wash is not a pleasant experience.

At the pump, we witnessed the magical sight of a sheep being born and taking its first steps......The afternoon was the hottest yet, and the three of us lay on a cow hide under a tree for a hazy eternity, playing boules with rocks, noughts and crosses with rocks, and a similar maasai game that is played – you guessed it - with rocks.

Eventually the heat over came Jackson and me, and we fell asleep under his “ohragarasha” – the shawl/cloak that the warriors wear. ....We headed out to the edge of the Amboseli park as night fell and caught a herd of zebra winding their way lazily across the sunset. This picture perfect image became all too much as the realisation dawned that this was our final night with our Nkiito family. It was difficult to tell by the light of the stars that shone from the bara-bara in the sky that evening, but if you looked carefully across the planes of the Amboseli you may have seen tears glistening on the cheeks of a cheeky maasai warrior and the two naroyeh (girls) sat side by side.
 
{Editor: video to follow]

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