2018-06-13 / Front Page

Maasai chief on mission to help Kenyan orphans

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com


Paul Kitesho, a Maasai chief, and Bob Milne stand with a statue of a Wakumba warriorat Milne’s Acorn Lodge in Oregon Township. Milne held a fund raiser there Monday afternoon to raise funds for Maasai orphans. Kitesho had traditional Maasai bead work available for sale for people who attended the reception. 
Photos by Phil Foley Paul Kitesho, a Maasai chief, and Bob Milne stand with a statue of a Wakumba warriorat Milne’s Acorn Lodge in Oregon Township. Milne held a fund raiser there Monday afternoon to raise funds for Maasai orphans. Kitesho had traditional Maasai bead work available for sale for people who attended the reception. Photos by Phil Foley OREGON TWP. — Lapeer’s piano man, Bob Milne, and a few of his friends will hold a concert Friday (June 15) at the Fenton United Methodist Church to help raise funds for the Maasai Orphans Education Fund.

Milne, who’s known nationally for his ragtime and boogie woogie piano playing, has been hosting Paul Kitesho, a Maasai chief, for the past week. Milne met Kitesho nine years ago while visiting his friend Tom Hill, founder and director of Save the Lions in Kenya.

Milne said he was struck by Kitesho’s efforts to educate orphans in Maasailand, which straddles the Keyna-Tanzania border in Africa and he’s been helping support a Maasai orphan ever since.

He noted that Kitesho’s work to help orphans and others resulted in his community naming him a tribal chief.

Kitesho said unlike America where schools are tax supported, Kenyan schools are tuition based and many orphan children find themselves in homes where there is no money to pay for school. He said he became involved in raising money to educate orphans a decade ago when he met a boy on the roadside herding cows. “I asked him why he was not in school and he cried,” said Kitesho. The boy’s parents had died from HIV and he was living with an uncle.

“If I don’t do it, who will?” he said, explaining why he makes fund raising trips for the orphans.

Last year Milne organized his first “Kenya!” concert. This year he along with blues guitarist Eddie “Blues” Barney and Brother 2 Brother — the singing duo of Matt Packer and Richard Kerry Thompson — will perform at 7 p.m. Friday at the Fenton United Methodist Church, 119 Leroy St., Fenton. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased by calling 810-441-0021 or 810-441-6768.


Oregon Township’s Bob Milne met Paul Kitesho, a Maasai chief, on a trip to Kenya nine years ago. Milne’s been helping raise funds for a Massai orphans’ school ever since. Oregon Township’s Bob Milne met Paul Kitesho, a Maasai chief, on a trip to Kenya nine years ago. Milne’s been helping raise funds for a Massai orphans’ school ever since. Kitesho said it costs $200 to educate a primary student for a year, $420 for a high school student and $2,500 to send a student to college for a year. He said the Maasai are a traditional herding people who own their land in common and “share everything we have.”

In Maasailand, Kitesho said, “We live a very different life. We live without lights. We have no vehicles.” The Maasai live in extended family groups of 20 to 35 people. The Maasai, like many tribes in Africa, have been ravaged by HIV. Kitesho said large numbers of orphaned children find themselves in homes that cannot afford to pay school expenses and they drop out to work in the household, fields, or on the street.

The Maasai Orphans Education Fund (MOEF), an initiative of Ereto Child and Community Empowerment Project, supports the Mbirikani Group Ranch located in Maasailand in southern Kenya. The ranch is Kenya’s first and largest facility for HIV-positive orphans.

Kitesho, who’s home is in sight of Mount Kilimanjaro said, “I was amazed,” the first time he visited San Francisco. Coming from a place where villages are surrounded by fences of woven acacia tree branches, he said he thought, “How can people build this? How can this happen?” when he first saw the Golden Gate Bridge.

For the past week Milne has been taking Kitesho to charitable groups across Lapeer County to raise awareness for the Massai’s needs. Monday night he held a reception at Acorn Lodge, Milne’s executive retreat on Stanley Road.

For more information on the Maasai Orphans Education Fund, visit www.friendsofafricaaz.org/the-orphanfund of-kenya.

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