They may be a small group but this certainly had no impact on the fantastic time that our 5 gappers had during their stay at Camp Tsavo. As they left to move onto Camp Makongeni they shared their adventure with us….
The 5 of us volunteers arrived at Camp Tsavo at lunch time after a gusty ride from the airport on our jeep! We were introduced and welcomed by Sammy K (‘The name’s on the belt’) and given a tour around our new home.
Our first day was spent at Sasenyi School, a 40 minute drive from Tsavo Camp. As we pulled up to the school, we were greeted by waves and ‘Jambo’s’ from the students which made us feel warmly welcomed! We began our work digging out the foundations of a recently knocked down classroom in order to re-build a new one. Steve, our group leader, managed to keep us motivated and entertained through the blazing heat by his constant funny outbursts … Sledgeeee HAMMER! These were consistent throughout the whole fortnight which always kept us going.
The hard work was followed by a more relaxing day making elephant dung paper. We were definitely hesitant to get stuck in originally but were equally intrigued as to how it was made and found ourselves eager to try it out. We were all astounded at how resourceful the local community are and how they have the ability to make things out of nothing!
For our R.R (rest and recuperation) days we would take the jeep to Voi which was roughly an hours drive from camp. We were able go to the local supermarkets, internet café, restaurants, souvenir shops and a swimming pool at Galaxy Hotel. On our first R.R, we visited a Massai village nearby to be shown around the tribes’ homes (bomas) and way of living. It was so surreal to see the difference between their culture and ours, especially when they began their tribal chants and dances in their brightly coloured garments and makeshift sandals. Furthermore, the extreme lengths the males go through to show their right of passage – burning circular marks onto their skin and removing their two bottom teeth at the age of five,not forgetting being circumcised without pain relief! OUCH!! They taught us how to make fire out of rubbing sticks together on top of elephant dung and grass, as well as teaching us about their Lion hunting tradition, whereby they show the slaughtered Lion’s tooth to the parents of the intended wife they want to marry in order to prove their worthiness.
Going to visit the Imani women’s group was definitely one of the most powerful and inspiring experiences of our lives. We were told by Mama Mercy how ‘Imani’ meant faith, which is most definitely an appropriate name to give to such a humble group of women. This group was started by Mama Mercy originally due to the growing rate of HIV/AIDS within the community. She began to provide these jobs which meant a sustainable income for women who otherwise would have fewer opportunities to be able to support themselves and their family. It empowers women to be self sufficient and has also stood up for girls with the controversial tradition of arranged marriage in young teen girls. We were all led by the women to plant seeds in their field which will allow them to sell the crops in three years time.
A 5.30 am start to the day awaited us in order to get to Tsavo East national park on time for our SAFARI! Thanks to Steve’s excellent observation skills, we were able to see; Twiga, Ndovu, Pundamilia, Mbuni, Duma – (Giraffes, Elephants, Zebras, Ostriches, Cheetahs and many more).
Highlight of our day = Monkey snatching one of the volunteers sandwiches at the picnic park!
The heaven’s opened as we sat in the open jeep on our long journey home. Despite it being fun at first it was a shock to be so drenched after such a hot day but luckily the staff at Tsavo took care of this and had teas and coffees laid out for our arrival back home. This became a common occurrence and they consisted to exceed our expectations of hospitality and made us feel more at home than ever.
Climbing Mt Kasigau was a challenge we weren’t expecting! A four and a half hour trek up the mountain was topped off by a 500 metre vertical stretch to the peak. An overwhelming amount of exercise sent us all to sleep at the top of the mountain when we were suddenly awoken by our guides warning us of the torrential rain to come! This led to a humorous slide down to the bottom and we were SO happy and proud of ourselves to finally reach the end of the challenge.
Throughout our stay, we spent a few more days at Sasenyi School plastering classroom walls and planting trees that will be used for health purposes for the students within the school. We became more and more familiar with their way of working and it was a breath of fresh air to see such happy students that were more than eager to help out … they showed us how it was done. We felt so privileged to be surrounded by such good natured people and loved the opportunity to talk to them (and practise our Swahili).
Above all of the amazing experiences we have had over the last two weeks, the best thing about camp Tsavo is the extremely friendly, accommodating, funny, welcoming, happy and supportive family of staff that work here alongside us. They have truly made our trip unforgettable and we couldn’t have asked for a better way to start our trip to Kenya! Although we are excited for the next adventures at our new camp, we will be so upset to leave our Tsavo family behind!
WE LOVE CAMP TSAVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!