Volunteer Work

The Oltumo Maasai Project: Diverse cultures learning from each other to empower sustainable change


Several years ago, I had the great fortune of becoming part of the international not-for-profit organization, the Oltumo Maasai Project. This project works with the Indigenous Maasai people of the Maasai Mara Reserve in Kenya. The heart of this project identifies and acknowledges the direct ways colonialism and globalization impact the traditional way of life of the Maasai people. The objectives of the Oltumo project is to assist the Maasai in addressing the social determinants of health through sustainable and meaningful ways. This includes focusing on sustainable and regenerative land use, supporting education in a cultural context, and helping support community guided responses to change. Our organization strongly supports the cultural resilience of the Maasai people.

Our work was recognized in 2017, when I was granted a College of Medicine Global Health Travel Award. The award helped support a recent mission to the Oltumo project as well as a knowledge sharing panel discussion at the Global Health Conference at the University of Saskatchewan. In that panel my colleague and Maasai community member Lialo Salaash, along with collaborators Lorna and Eugene Arcand of Muskeg Lake and Leonzo Barreno a Mayan from Guatemala, spoke about some of the common health inequities facing Indigenous peoples worldwide.

Dr. Groot joins members of the Maasai Mara Reserve at a community meeting.

Dr. Groot joins members of the Maasai Mara Reserve at a community meeting.

I dream of a school where the Maasai can be proud to hold a pencil in one hand and a stick in the other.
— From Oltumo Maasai Project Founder, Lialo Ole Salaash