The first Safari
Before we got to Kinyambu area to do our project we went on a safari. We decided to do this first because Erin had to go home early. So off we went north to an area that Donna and I had been to years before. As we drove along with our favourite driver, Simon Mburu from A and B Tours, Donna and I kept remembering things, Mount Kenya of course, the second highest mountain in Africa. Not quite as dramatic as Kilimanjaro, but still impressive. The altitude required some getting used to, Nairobi at 1700 meters (almost 6000 feet), then north and up over the equator, also around 2000 meters (over 6000 feet), and the swell of the mountain and down on the other side.
We visited the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and saw the last two Northern White Rhinos in existence (the last male, Sudan, died a couple of years ago) and got to touch Baraka, a mostly blind and very tame black rhino who lives there also. Pretty amazing.
We also visited the Samburu Conservancy near Archer's Post where we had a very memorable experience. The small lodge we stayed at there turned out to be owned by a group of amazing Samburu women who some years before had broken with their strict tribal protocols, left their abusive husbands and set up a village of their own where they can feel safe. Rebecca Lolosoli, the main force behind this whole process, told us some of her story and related the tale of how this group of women, not allowed to own property, managed to get title to the land we were on and built their community. We were mesmerized by the story and hope to contribute to their project soon.
Our first few days in the Kinyambu area where Nzavoni school is located were a flurry of meeting a greeting everyone, getting organized, figuring out how and what and where we were going to do things. The countryside was quite lush for that time of year, normally a very dry period. The November/December rains had been extensive and had carried on into January and even February. Flooding happened all over and affected us too. We had to take a very roundabout route to get to Nzavoni School every day which took a lot of time each day. We were out of the hotel by around 7 am and got to the school at close to 8 am.
The first week the students were all there and excited to see what we were up to. No TV, no travel, and not much excitement in their lives, so a visit from foreigners is really interesting. They helped us and sometimes got in the way in their excitement.
The second week was a break for them so things were quiet. Only Beth Muendo or another teacher was there to lock and unlock and for a couple of days young Ryan, Beth's grandson, 6 years old and also home from school, came to help and mostly play.
Here is the result of our labors. The school was very excited to have these murals and we felt quite proud of our handiwork.
|Ryan helps Donna|
One of our relatives donated a lot of toothbrushes and little toothpaste tubes, almost 400 we think, and Esther hauled it all to the school for an activity around that. Chloe, a kindergarten teacher in Canada, had recently done a tooth brushing session with her students and so she managed to get several hundred very excited, chattering Kenyan school kids to learn about tooth brushing and sent them all home with supplies.
A second Safari
We finished off with a short safari to make sure Chloe, who came for the final two weeks of the project, would experience the wonders of Kenya: the amazing animals of course, but also Mount Kilimanjaro and rivers of lava and Mzimu Springs and so on. She saw many leopards, which is a rarity. Each safari is different.