Chapati and Cultural Immersion

Chapati and Cultural Immersion

After finishing up the garden at Joyce’s house she invited us to learn how to make chapati, something sort of like naan bread. This was just one of the experiences of cultural immersion on the November Trip.

She pulled a table out into her yard and gathered all the ingredients flour, water, salt and oil. Then, started a fire in a small stove to heat a pan.

She showed us how to make the dough, stirring it with her hands. Muneria came to help as well.

Like mothers all over the world, she reminded her child to wash his hands before preparing food, which he did in a large blue bowl sitting next to the table. A special plate served as a platform to roll the chapati into perfect circles. He worked quickly, handing the rolled out flat bread to his mother who cooked them. She turned them with her bare hands, using no instrument to protect them from the heat.

Muneria then offered us a chance to roll out the chapati. We took turns, none of ours turning out as round as his. We laughed, feeling the warmth of home with this family who lives a different culture half a world away.

Sarah’s turn came up. She rolled the dough one way getting it stuck to the plate and stretching the dough as she freed it. She used more flour and rolled it some more. “That’s too big.” Joyce laughed, handing her more dough. “Try again.”

She started again, this time paying careful attention to the size, but not the shape. When she finished, it looked like a map of the United States. She handed it to Joyce with a shrug. Joyce shook her head and it was put onto the pan with a little oil to cook.

When David was finished with the water storage system, he came around the house to join us. We invited him to take his turn rolling chapati.

“Fine.” He said. “But mine is going to be round. Not corner, corner, corner, like Sarah’s.” This was met with kind hearted laughter from our group. Joyce pointed to the bowl of wash water. He obeyed.

Then, while rolling out the dough, David told us about how there are times in their culture when men and women separate and make their own food. He showed us how to roll it out to make it round. “See? Like this. You roll, and then turn it.” He pat the dough down. “Roll. And then turn again.”

He handed the dough to Joyce who watched us all with love, curiosity, and a little disbelief at how nutty this group of Americans is.

We dined together on our unifying chapati, rice, and carrots. It was the end of a full day of work, service, mentoring, and unconditional love.

When I say we experience cultural immersion, these are the types of things I am talking about. We get to be in the homes of the families. We learn from them and love them. We put our hands in their soil, climb onto their roof to put up rain gutters, collect water in rivers, dine with them, and hear their stories from their own lips.

By the time we leave, we have a new name, an expanded family, people who pray for us, and a home to come to when we return.

If you would like to join us for an expedition, learn more here.

Small Choices (by Melodee Bullock)

Small Choices (by Melodee Bullock)

Towards the end of my first experience in Kenya with 100 Humanitarians, I was taught a lesson I will never forget in a moment that might have seemed so small and insignificant to the outside observer, but it has pierced my heart.

We were at Joyce’s home installing a water tank and learning to make chapati. She lives on that Mara–a land dedicated to the Maasai culture. Joyce is the mother of Muneria (John)–one of our wonderful Maasai warrior guides and a true friend to all. We needed more water for the cement that the tank would sit on. To achieve this, we needed to walk down to the river to gather it. In their culture, this this women’s work. I believe that, in a “perfect” world, we all work together to get things done.

I asked Muneria if he was going to come help us and he told me “No, its not a mans work in our culture.”

He mentioned that they were trying to change Maasai culture. I responded by mentioning he could change it TODAY with a lot of love and a bit of sarcasm in my voice. With the same love and sarcasm, he told me back with maybe tomorrow.

I responded with, “Will you at least walk us down so we know where to go?” since we were a bunch of American women going for water.

He said that he would, and we walked down to the river. While we walked, we talked about our cultures, and I made sure that this wasn’t something he would get punished for doing because I didn’t want to push for change in an area that would cause damage. My only goal was and is to do good. I told him that, in my house, my husband and I share responsibilities. We definitely have our strengths and things that one of us is better at or more able to do, but if it needs to be done, we do it even if its not “our job”. I told him about how my wonderful husband stayed home with our children so that I could travel to Kenya following my heart.

We had a nice chat about it and went to the water. The kids that came with us helped us fill the water jugs. The women hiked back with the water jugs. Now, this was not a long walk, but a walk nonetheless. Water jugs are heavy! None of us were accustomed to this particular task, but we were all willing to give it a go to have an experience in the name of culture.

We all struggled just a bit figuring out the best way to carry the weight. Pretty soon, 3 young men ages 17-25 grabbed our water jugs from us and easily carried them back to the house. These men included two from our group and Muneria. In that moment I sobbed with emotion, much like right now as tears flow down my cheeks as I recall this moment.

Some might have just seen men helping out, but I saw CHANGE! I saw a small choice that at the same time was a choice that had a potential to change history–the start of a culture shift. Muneria chose TODAY to be an an example for the young boys watching. He chose TODAY to influence his culture for good.

I hope I never forget that lesson. That change for good and change for the future start TODAY with one small choice at a time.


Melodee Bullock is a supporter of love. Through her journey of healing from depression, anxiety, ptsd, low/no self esteem, trust issues, financial , and relationship things. She has learned the power of Love. She has since learned and created her Dream life through intimacy and abundance. She is a wife, mother, foot zone therapist, International Energy Mentor and Presenter. She runs and operates events, retreats, programs, and group and personal training. She has helped many people in their journey of overcoming and healing through many of the same struggles she went through but her passion lies in marriages. She has devoted her time and energy to creating powerful programs to support people in bettering their marriages and relationships so that they too can create their dream life through intimacy and abundance.