‘I Fell In Love With A Maasai Warrior On A Missionary Trip To Tanzania’
By Rachel George
In 2015, dental hygienist Shauna Mollel organized a volunteer mission to Tanzania. Her only intention was to offer dental hygiene education to school-aged children, not to fall in love. But she did. She fell in love with the Maasai culture and people, including Maasai warrior and her now husband, Isaya.
Two years of friendship. Nine months of dating. Five months of engagement. It all led to their “simply perfect” wedding day on August 31, 2018, in Tanzania. “When you find the one, you’ll know. And that’s the best way I can describe it. From the very first day of meeting Isaya, I knew he would be in my life forever,” Shauna says. “I believe that we met for a reason and that God allowed our paths to cross for a greater purpose.”
That purpose combined with their love for helping others revealed itself in the form of their own wildlife safari tour company, Aloito Africa. In Maasai language, it means, “I am going to Africa.” Isaya wanted to shed light on his Maasai culture, which is based on unity and working together. Residing in Northern Tanzania and Kenya, the Maasai people are an indigenous tribe known for the unique culture and traditional way of living. Young Maasai boys are groomed to become warriors and leaders of their tribe, protecting their land and animal wildlife, as was Isaya.
“It’s important for me to give back to my fellow communities through feeding and dental programs,” he explained. “This is where Shauna and I really connected and were able to combine our dreams to create something unique.”
When they initially met, Isaya was in tour guiding school in Moshi Town, educating visitors about his culture and traditions. Isaya escorted Shauna to his village in traditional red Maasai clothing and a noticeably, vibrant smile to match. The couple connected within three days taking long walks in the village, sharing each other’s dreams and their similar beliefs on faith, despite being from different cultural backgrounds.
“I believe that’s what connects us the most and makes this journey such an enjoyable experience for both of us,” Shauna shared.
She was familiar with rich cultures, traditions, and unique accents, growing up in a rural community on the island of Newfoundland in Canada. Shauna always had an eagerness to learn about other cultures and their way of life. “I desired to embrace different cultures and build connections. I wanted to help in a way that would actually benefit communities in the long term and help provide sustainable solutions to their current needs,” she said.
Their engagement and wedding was a complete surprise to Shauna, organized by Isaya with the help of his best man and friend Petro and her friend and Maid of Honor Helena. She was dressed in a custom-ordered traditional Maasai dress in a small town near his village. Isaya had arranged for a motorcycle to take them to meet his family.
Upon arriving at his boma (collection of traditional Maasai huts), the women sang, danced and chanted as she was greeted walking through a wooden gate. As a sign of respect, Shauna greeted each elder before heading into the home. Everyone sat in a large circle, as Isaya’s mom revealed a bag and Shauna knew just what was inside.
“It was my engagement ring,” she said. “It meant the world to me that Isaya not only arranged this entire celebration but presented me with a beautiful ring to signify this special day.”
The couple celebrated their engagement and Shauna’s welcome into the family with spiced rice, meat, and soda. They shared their own vows in a small ceremony, ending the night at their favorite restaurant, enjoying a burger and fries while chatting about their future children.
“At the end of the day, we’re just two people living life the way we had always dreamt about, and we get to do it with our best friend by our side,” Isaya said.