EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

May 16, 2013

Wi-Fi, snow make lasting impression

Maasai warrior brings final leg of journey to Merrimack Valley

ANDOVER — After a month-long visit to the U.S., a warrior in the Kenyan Maasai tribe stumbled over his attempt at explaining some of his biggest take-aways from the experience — the power of Wi-Fi and the sensation of snow on his hands.

“John” Kilenyi Parsitau said the only Internet access in his native Intashart is obtained by satellite and electricity is so rare the closest charger for the five cell phones in his village of 5,000 people is 17 miles away.

Coming to a place as technologically advanced as the U.S. has been eye-opening, Parsitau told a group gathered at the Andover Senior Center yesterday.

“Everywhere you go, there’s what you call Wi-Fi, which is to me something amazing,” he said. “A set of networks where you can always access your email from the air ... traveling on a plane, on the street, on a road. I can’t compare it.”

Parsitau, a community social worker, and Chief “Joseph” Ole Tipanko spent the last month touring the U.S. to raise money for MAGSA-OUTREACH. The organization provides funding and support to allow children in and around their village to go to school as well as opportunities, particularly for young girls, to avoid the many social inequalities facing them in Africa, Parsitau said.

Following stops in such places as Colorado, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and New York, the two men arrived in the Merrimack Valley over the weekend. In addition to visiting Andover, they also dropped by North Andover Middle School yesterday and are scheduled to stop off at a Lawrence school in the coming days before heading home.

Along with raising awareness about their culture and answering questions about life in Africa, the men have also been selling beaded jewelry to support their cause, Parsitau said.

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