by Melanie Mitchell
Recently, we were lucky to sit down with some popcorn and espresso (why not!) to watch a screening of The Women’s Adventure Film Tour. This collection of short films was passing through Colorado nicely timed for International Women’s Day.
The film collection features some of the extraordinary things woman are doing in the name of adventure. To date, the Tour has already screened in over ten countries worldwide and is still moving strong.
In each location, the team selects the films specifically for each market to ensure a global perspective. They highlight bold and quiet women adventurers to give voice to the shared challenges of women’s journeys no matter where they are from.
Amongst the six films shown in Colorado, the documentary ‘Naretoi’ was the one that held the audience in quiet contemplation. Set in Kenya, it follows a group of Maasai women and the filmmakers allowed us to meet some of the bravest females the audience had probably seen on film.
MASAAI WOMEN CLIMBING MT KENYA
The documentary Naretoi follows a group of Maasai and American women on a unique self-supported expedition to the summit of Mt. Kenya, 16,355 ft.
The Maasai tribe live in a deeply traditional, patriarchal, and polygamous culture. Most Maasai women have never left their “boma” or village and few make any decisions without male permission. The focus of their lives is on survival.
Doing anything solely for themselves is an intangible luxury, one not afforded to women in Maasai culture. Something like climbing a mountain without any involvement or assistance by men, is unheard of.
“Naretoi” is the word meaning ‘women empowering women’ and nothing could have been more appropriate for these amazing ladies.
For most of this group, it was the first time in their adult (and barely adult) lives they had been afforded the time to be responsible solely for themselves. They had no children, no husbands and, as one said, no cows to think about.
The Maasai women are responsible for everything in their villages. They build huts, collect firewood and water and care for their offspring, husbands and livestock. There is no time for themselves or self-contemplation. Many go uneducated and female circumcision is part of the Maasai culture.
By following the journey of these women, it became apparent Mt. Kenya is a metaphor for life. It symbolizes the challenges we as women must overcome to gain equality.
The Maasai women worked hard for the summit, but none of them ever doubted they would get there.
Their strength of character was unparalleled and a lesson for women in more privileged cultures. Above all, we should take note, stand back in admiration and support those who have a higher mountain to climb than ourselves.
NARETOI KENYA ORGANIZATION
Naretoi Kenya is the charitable organization whose mission is to work with Maasai communities in Kenya to empower and support women.
In Maasai culture, it is the girls who bear the weight of the cultural and educational deficit. With this in mind, they collaborate with local communities focusing on girls’ education, cultural exchange and local community efforts.
Naretoi Kenya currently have 129 girls sponsored and enrolled in schools. You can donate to the organization here.
NARETOI: THE DOCUMENTARY
Watch the trailer to be introduced to these incredible women who worked together to summit Mt. Kenya.
Check to see if The Women’s Adventure Film Tour is coming to a theatre near you; it’s worth the effort. You won’t leave disappointed, but you’ll be sure to leave with a little more determination in your step.
The full screening list of The Women’s Adventure Film Tour can be found here.