Patrick Olepapatiti’s Story

Patrick was born in the Ongata-Rangai village, in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro. He is married with four beautiful children. He is also known by the name “Mirishi,” which means “brave man whom nothing can stop.” As a young warrior he earned that name by surviving a lion attack while defending his livestock. Severely injured, he managed to avoid death and save his cattle. Whether the obstacle is a lion, a lack of money or a new business challenge, Patrick has proven he is indeed unstoppable.

Patrick also had the honor of being the chief (olaiguanani) of his age group with the responsibility of administering to a population of over eight thousand Maasai warriors. At age 40, he became a tribal Elder who is constantly in demand as he helps out his fellow Maasai, mediates disputes and makes sure everyone is taken care of.

Education has always been very important to Patrick. He was never officially registered by his parents to enter school so at age six he sneaked into the classroom. The teacher sent him and three other boys out of the classroom because they were not enrolled. Their tears drew the attention of the headmaster. Seeing Patrick’s desire for an education the headmaster registered him and he became part of the school population.

Sadly, because his family could not afford school Patrick was forced to drop out after the eighth grade. Despite this setback he never gave up his dream of returning to school.

Later, Patrick met Beads For Education Founder Debby Rooney during a visit to Amboseli. Debby has a passion for girls’ education. Knowing the high illiteracy rates in his area, Patrick worked with Debby to launch a program in the Amboseli region. Because of these efforts more than 100 girls have received scholarships allowing them to go from elementary school through college.

Debby realized that Patrick still had a strong desire to finish his own education. She promised to get him a scholarship.

In 2004 at age 27 Patrick went back to school. Despite his stature in the Maasai community, he had to cut his long Maasai warrior hair, put on school uniform and join a class where a majority of the boys were fourteen and fifteen years of age. Patrick did not care — he was getting the education he dreamed about. He finished high school and took the national exams permitting him to enroll in college.

At that point, Patrick had never met Infinite Safari Adventures founder Alan Feldstein who had sponsored his final year of high school. Debby introduced Patrick to Alan and their relationship has developed into a close friendship—Alan delights in getting texts from Patrick even when Patrick is out in the bush. Patrick has now obtained a degree in International Business Administration from the United States International University-Africa and is working on his Masters. Together they decided to start a business. This business, marketing Maasai beaded jewelry and dog collars, provides funds to help the women of Patrick’s village. All proceeds from sales benefit their children and their village.

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