Building a Home among the Lera Trees

On 9 June 1984, the eve of Pentecost, Sister Noeleen Mooney and the team of builders left Dareda Hospital on the start of their journey east towards Kijungu. The lorry contained cement, tools, food, drinking water and camping tents. Meanwhile Sister Genevieve and an Austrian volunteer, Chui, were leaving Arusha, traveling south on the 320 km road. Their short-wheel-based Landrover was packed with household things and six dozen eggs.

Genevieve remembers: "We stopped mid-way to collect a water trailer that we attached to the Landrover. In the middle of the Maasai steppe, we missed a shortcut, but we finally arrived in Kijungu around 6 p.m. after an eleven-hour journey. The lorry from Dareda arrived soon after and we all stayed at the mission that night. Father Saningo had a meal ready for us. Noeleen and I put our bedding in a foodstore. I slept but Noeleen didn't because the place was filled with rats."

For breakfast on that Pentecost morning, Genevieve cooked a huge omelette for all. Then Father Saningo brought them to Loolera. The Maasai had cleared the building site. The team lost no time in putting up the tents.

Noeleen and John prepared a cooking area and Saningo, accompanied by several warriors, took Genevieve to the Lempapuli reservoir some six km away, where they filled their first tank of water, syphoning it through a hose. This exercise took three hours and would be repeated at least once every day while the building was in progress. Soon Genevieve was expert at manoeuvering the landrover and attached tanker in the sand and occasionally in deep mud. As the sun went down, Noeleen and Genevieve managed to find their way back to the mission at Kijungu for Mass. Father Saningo had left them during the morning for Mass at other missions. They were all tired at that evening celebration of Pentecost, but prayed for God's blessing on the new venture.

Then the two Sisters returned to the camp. Sister Genevieve never liked the laugh of the hyena, and a whole pack of them blocked their way as they approached Loolera. She recalls: "As time went on we became accustomed to the silence of bright starry nights broken only by the songs of the warriors in neighbouring bomas and the sounds of wild animals."