Patrick Olepapatiti’s Story
Patrick was born in the Ongata-Rangai village, in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro. He is married with three 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 has 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. It is a job that constantly keeps him busy as he helps out his fellow warriors, 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. Out they went crying which drew the attention of the headmaster. Seeing his 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.
Thereafter Patrick met Beads For Education Founder Debby Rooney during a visit to Amboseli. Deby has a passion for girls’ education. Knowing the high illiteracy rates in his area, Patrick worked with Deby 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.
Debby then introduced Patrick to Alan Feldstein who has sponsored him since high school. Their relationship has developed into a close friendship and now that Patrick is about to obtain a degree in International Business Administration from the United States International University-Africa they have decided to start a business together. This business, Dog Collars For Africa will help the women of Patrick’s village. Using their artisanship in beading they with Patrick’s assistance will be able to raise funds to benefit their children and their village.