Thursday, April 29, 2010

A new host maasai community in Amboseli

While in Diani on the Indian Ocean coast we stayed at Stilts Backpackers.
View Larger Map One of the night watchmen there is a Maasai called Jackson. He works at Stilts and travels home as often as possible to help provide for his family. While i washed our ridiculous amount of clothing, after arriving from climbing Mt Kenya, we spoke for some time about his village in Amboseli National Park and how Cecilie (a Norwegian friend also staying at Stilts) had visited there. For "muzungu" Jackson's village is a paradise. Life there is very different and very simple, in fact its an entire education and we'd like to offer that experience to our AVIF volunteers.

If you'd like to experience Amboseli and stay with Jackson's community, perhaps help them to improve their water supply and basic education for their children, then please get in touch.
[Jackson 2nd left]

Asante sana Cecilie for these photos.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Amazing subjects amazing photography

I want to direct you to some fantastic photographs by Karl who came with us on the trip round the projects. Below is all of us at Uhandha's pre school, a mud hut in a field ...

..across from the main primary school which will also be the project site for the US environmental project with Charles Abramson's team at Terra Endeavours, producing algae and multiple outputs for the community including jobs, electricity, cattle-feed, income-generating high-protein nutritional supplements and much more.

This project alone was worth making the trip for but also, seeing faces like this makes Kenya so special.

Kenya is such a beautiful and diverse country

Wow .. what a trip!

[looking down the Mara River) ..and what an amazing variety of host communities we have .. including a new Maasai community next to the Mara Sidai tented camp. Anyone wishing to help this community should expect to provide english lessons (in return for Maa lessons) at the local school and if living in a dung, fly-ridden house is too much of a leap for you, Mara Sidai can welcome you for 1500/- a night. Located 250 km from Nairobi and just 45 minutes by air, the community sits in the Maasai Mara, the richest game reserve in Kenya. Tony Ole Lentumo is one of the manyatta's head Maasai. Having visited his home and spoken at length with him it seems the main problems his community have, despite a wealth from selling jewellery and giving visits to tourists, is that they still have to travel up to a kilometre for water, something I found amazing when Mara Sidai has ensuite, tiled bathrooms in their tents!!!! Reality is that the rich tourist camps do very little to assist the locals just outside their gates, despite the locals (and of course the wildlife) being the very reason there are tourists.

Oloolamutia Primary School also struggles with finding good teachers for the children. Though Maasai children will normally go on to inherit their famiy's cattle, goats, land and lifestyle it is still important for them to have a basic education. Contact us for more details.
Mona's work continues fantastically with projects and major results almost every week. Rukia's new house has been completed and there is already fundraising going on to help a young pair of brothers in the community.
Everything we've achieved on this tour, is a result of the innovation and resourcefulness of our communities and volunteers. The internet makes it so easy to connect with truly amazing people and, although of course I'm biased, I highly recommend visiting Kenya to volunteer.
I'd like to thank the following people for making my trip incredible :
Sharon Argwings Kodhek, Amanda Flanagan, Daniel Keya, Michael Ouma Nam, Edward and the girls at Mercy Home, Charles and Prisca Adero, Edward Wata, Mona Bankhaug Sundli "for running around to furnish 2 brand new and still wet mud huts for us "!!!! .. also Maurice and his wife for feeding us at midnight, Douglas Onkware, Jessie from Upper Hills Campsite for recommending Mara Sidai, the Kichwa Tembo ridiculously gorgeous and expensive hotel for giving us free cake, a drink and tame Timon and Pumbas to watch wandering around the grounds while we rested by the pool and gave the car a break! ... for all the people that "blessed" our trip and kept the rain away despite it being the rainy season, because we'd have been grounded in the rain in the Mara, the convent Hotel of Kisii for lending us their washing lines and laundry staff for free, Michaels entire family for waiting with us while the car was fixed after we bashed it to hell on the Mara potholes, to Mary and John Kariuki and the incredible bionic porters for a truly awesome climb of Mt Kenya (especially John for being so understanding during the tears at 4,750m while we threw my Mothers ashes into the wind) ...... massive thanks also to Andy Barbour of Stilts Backpackers in Diani, a place I highly recommend to all volunteers to at least go unwind at for a couple of days.
I want to finally witter on about the importance of NOT under-estimating malaria!
Without prophylactics you WILL get the parasite and it is NOT pleasant. Doxycycline is a cheap anti-biotic and anti-malarial but has side effects of causing nausea on an empty stomach and increased skin-sensitivity to sunlight. Malarone (atovaquone) is also very effective BUT EXPENSIVE. If you opt for Malarone then purchase your 1st  weeks supply but buy the rest in Kenya it is much cheaper there. Any decent pharmacist will stock it. Use nets too and lots of deet spray in the evening (P.S. Deet and nail varnish do not work well together LOL !!)