African Adventures came to Richard Taunton Sixth Form College in 2013, looking for a handful of volunteers to venture to the town of Nakuru, Kenya. Multiple presentations and meetings later, the company had found themselves far more than just a handful, walking away with 21 of us intact.
Truth be told, the sum looked large, yet the fundraising behind it was all part of the fun. In fact, we had nothing to be worried about. In October 2013, we started our savings, ready for our deadline in May 2014. From cake sales in the staff room to an ‘all night sponsored sport’ event, we reached our set target, and gathered the money. We raised the majority as a team. This, in fact, acted as our ice breaker, getting to know each individual who set out to share the same adventure.
So the day came. June 19th arrived and we were ready for our 10-day adventure. We had our plenaries and information packs, our factor-50, hats and rucksacks. But nothing can really prepare you for such a beautiful experience.
As a team, we set off from London, Heathrow, heading to Kenya. With a short stop on the way, we managed to have a quick nosey around the wealth of Qatar Airport. It was something else. I’d never seen such squeaky-clean floors. Soon we hit the skies again and landed in a place considerably different.
Dampened, dirty walls surrounded us as we stood in the passport control queue. To our left, we saw a Kenyan woman amazingly balancing her suitcase upon her head. No worries, no cares. Just peacefully stood.
And we made it. We ventured on our rattling shuttle bus for a grand total of six hours (a trip that would have taken no longer than ninety minutes in the UK). With a family of baboons on our left, and a zebra stood proudly to our right, we were surrounded by the beauty of Kenya’s wilderness. Stopping off at Lake Nakuru, we showed off our true inner Brit and took some snaps of the stunning view.
A short nap later and we arrived at our resort, Kivu. Ready to meet the local schools and children which we had come to help.
The first day gave us the opportunity to take a look around three different schools, all full of very excitable little children waiting to see us ‘mzungus’. I had the privilege of working with Love For All, a local school and children’s home. With ages ranging from as little as two to a mature 17. Their location was small, with very little light due to their need for shade. Using the very last bit of graphite from a pencil, writing onto a scrap of paper, the children would sit there politely listening to the older children who were their teachers.
I’ll never forget the excited little voices and screams as our bus pulled up day in, day out. Singing their trademark song ‘Welcome.’
From the very beginning, I had young smiley children following me around, giggling and asking ‘How are you?’ over and over. Fascinated by my long blonde hair, I would have two or three children hanging from my arms, or sat in my lap, plaiting my hair. It was always the little things that would keep the children amused for hours. It’s surprising how long a bottle of bubbles lasts between over a hundred of them.
Within my team of seven we would each alternate our roles within the school. Whether it was teaching, building, playing or cooking, each of us loved it all. Together, over a course of five days, we dug out, built and opened a toilet block, made with six cubicles. Pamela, the founder of ‘Love For All’ stood ecstatic at our achievements, and was able to tick toilets off of her 2014 wish list.
In addition to my time spent with ‘Love For All’ as a college team, we visited Nakuru’s dump site. The stench of refuse and animal faeces could be smelt from inside our bus as we edged closer to the site. Yet, once we had taken a step out of the vehicle, the smell seemed to vanish as the view became so much more. For what seemed like miles and miles, there were hills of rubbish, excreting fumes into the atmosphere. The air seemed thick and polluted; certainly not safe for a child. Nevertheless, curled up in the equivalent of a supermarket plastic bag, babies were sleeping in this awful environment. At this point, all we had to offer were a sprinkle of stickers, and a purse-full of Kenyan shillings, all of which we gave out willingly.
Saying goodbye to the friends made in Nakuru and ‘Love For All’ was very emotional and extremely difficult. Children gripped our legs firmly, giving us our farewell cuddles. We gave out individual gifts to the children, things as small as a hair band. And they were ever so grateful, their smiles beaming. They all waited by the gate, climbing upon one another, all vying to be the last one to say goodbye. And that was it. Our time with our projects had come to an end. But our African Adventure didn’t stop there.
As our final couple of days were among us, we ventured out to the wild. We jumped into a safari jeep and drove around the land of Nakuru, searching for the big five. We saw orphaned baby elephants at the elephant sanctuary, travelled to the equator and shared a kiss with a giraffe. All moments which felt so surreal.
Home time. Our adventure was now complete. Dusty roads turned back into motorways. And zebras changed to horses. Sunlight turned to rain. We landed back in the UK on July 1st. All changed. All emotional. All excited to share our experience.
If my experience interests you please get involved! African Adventures would love to hear from you. So get in contact, and go to http://www.african-adventures.co.uk/contact-us/