The Kaisut Desert, arid and inhospitable, is a land of red parched earth and desert scrub. It is an inaccessible place where few venture, an isolated and alien looking terrain, occupied by a tenacious people: the Rendille.
There are no permanent bodies of water in all Rendille land. Agriculture is impossible. Thus this semi-nomadic culture depends on goats and camels for survival. In order to follow the limited grazing available to their livestock, and allow the land to replenish, Rendille move three to four times a year. Meals are meager, with a day's food consisting of a cup of camel's milk, a cup of tea, and a cup of thin gruel. Livestock is slaughtered on occasion, providing an extra source of nutrition. Their huts are framed with sticks and are covered with all manner of materials. Wild sisal covers the floors and cow skins frame the narrow doorway. In this way, entire villages can be easily moved.
The Tirrim primary school was built strategically in the middle of the lands which Rendille occupy. Though the families move often the location of the school ensures education is always accessible for the students. With an astonishingly low 1% literacy rate among Rendille, this accessibility is incredibly important. Once children graduate primary school they are old enough and strong enough to make the daily 10k walk to town in order to attend Tirrim's secondary and high school.
Rendille culture operates on an age-set method, with boys becoming warriors- charged with protecting the tribe and the livestock- every 14 years. According to custom very young girls are married to older men, and with an average life expectancy of 40 years, this results in a high percentage of widows. To mark the transition into womanhood girls undergo female genital mutilation, or FGM, at the time of marriage. This results in many medical complications, the most severe of which is a high maternal mortality rate. The role then of education in combating early marriage and FGM is incredibly important; and we are glad to say that Tirrim Schools boast a nearly equal boy to girl ratio.
The Rendille hold strongly to their traditional belief system, which is animistic at it's core and includes prayer to the moon, sacrifices to plead for rain, worship of ancestral spirits, and superstitious rituals. Oral history suggests they are descendants of Israel. Indeed they observe a passover ritual quite similar to that observed in Jewish culture and their language is of Cushitic origin. Though initially very resistant to outside influences the effects of the Gospel are taking root. The church in Korr is growing. Soon the Bible, fully translated into the Rendille language, will be available. Please pray with us that the Gospel would take root in the hearts of the Rendille people.
Check out THE FIRST FEW MINUTES OF THIS VIDEO (PRODUCED BY AIM ON-FIELD MEDIA) FOr AN EXCELLENT PICTURE OF RENDILLE LIFE.