Caring Without Borders

THE human family has its animosities and deep conflicts. But it also has profound examples of affection, one of which surfaced a few days ago in a remote village in Kenya.

In the settlement of Enoosaen, hours of rough travel from anything resembling the modern world, Masai tribespeople offered a gift of comfort to Americans still recovering from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks: a herd of 14 of their prized cows.

How that came about is a testament to human connectedness and compassion. A young Kenyan from that village, who's studying at Stanford University, happened to be in New York the day of the attacks. He's never forgotten that day, and on a recent visit to his Masai village he told people there what he saw and heard – from the horror of men and women leaping from burning towers to the heroism of rescuers.

The villagers were astounded, since most had only the vaguest sense of the 9/11 devastation. They felt compelled to do something. Hence the gift, which was received by an American diplomat and may be sold to buy Masai crafts and other more easily transportable goods.

In whatever form it reaches the United States, the gift is invaluable. It's a tribute not only to those who perished last September, but to a country whose generosity is making possible the education of a Masai who plans to return home to use what he's learning.

It's also a tribute to a people some may describe as primitive, but whose sense of dignity and caring is wonderfully advanced.

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