We will update this news story when possible. There has been a delay in receiving information due to difficulties accessing the internet where the pupils are.
Our last week
After Ulamba we head for Nakuru and the following morning Lieutenant Fletcher woke us, after a long lie, very abruptly with a very loud whistle. After a great breakfast, which wasn't just very sweet tea and a boiled egg, we headed on safari at Lake Nakuru in good spirits. We saw three white Rhinos, zebra, buffalo and impala, flamingos and Fish Eagles and many more. We also witnessed a helicopter armed with tranquilisers pursuing three rhinos and darting the youngest in order to tag it. It wasn't until after lunch that we saw a single lion half way up a tree and then later a lioness with five cubs very close to us.
We then headed to Naro Moru in the shadow of Mt Kenya where we had our first warm showers of the trip. The following day after a lie in and a cooked breakfast we headed to Tigithi Primary School to witness some of of the work done by the Moving Mountains charity in Kenya. They had converted several inadequate 'barn' like classrooms to seven secure, concrete ones and are starting to build a secondary school. In the afternoon we headed to Solio, a settlement created by the government for internally displaced people. We visited the primary school which two years previously when the last GWC group visited was merely UN donated tents, with no furniture and bare floors. However, due to the help of Moving Mountains many classrooms, accommodation for teachers and a kitchen have been built, boosting grades and creating a vibrant atmosphere. On Saturday we enjoyed another safari at Sweetwaters game park, coming across a large family of elephants complete with three calves. They were incredibly close and we enjoyed watching them go about their business several metres from us. We saw many more giraffes, zebra, impala, ostriches and rhinos as well as two more lions.
We are now at the final stage of our expedition on the shores of Lake Naivasha, camping close, but nor too close, to grazing hippos! The campsite is lovely and has a good, but cold, swimming pool. It is a great place to relax at the end of what has been a hectic but amazing trip.
Alastair Reid and Matt Little
Day 11 of our expedition began with a church service at the orphanage and in keeping with Kenyan tradition the priest was an hour late. Although the service was tiring it was far more upbeat than those back home.
Following lunch a very unusual challenge confronted our group of intrepid explorers. It involved a large knife, a chicken and a steady pair of hands. That's right – chicken was on the menu that night and it was our job to kill it. Many of the group were not keen but when a few took the challenge there was soon a long queue – although a few choose the safer option of making chapatis! Both the Head Boy and Head Girl took the opportunity!
During the afternoon a very important formality had to be completed – the football tournament. Each subcamp submitted a Kenyan team as did Ulamba who dominated the competition. They were only beaten by the Chui sub camp who took the points for the overall subcamp championship. However the biggest spectacle was still to come. The Mzungus (complete with Kenyan hairstyles) took on the work team who were keen to make amends for last year's defeat. Competitive was an understatement. Both teams put everything into it and following an inspirational performance from Ms Fletcher extra time was called. After a pep talk from Mr Iannone, Euan Mackay scored two goals to lead us to a 5–4 victory.
The chicken dinner was lovely but it was sad to be spending our last night with the kids, especially now that we had seen their homes. The final campfire was great fun – lots of songs in Luo, Kiswahili and English, and it was rounded off with Devon's now famous chant!
The next day we dismantled the amazingly built subcamps – tables and benches made of wood and string – and prepared ourselves for the closing ceremony. We then learnt about Kenyan speeches – emotional, sincere and very long! Songs from various camps and us and then a finale by Devon brought the precedings to a close. Bravo Zulu Devon! It was then the hardest part; distributing clothes to the kids and saying goodbye. Each received two T-shirts, a pair of trousers and a jumper. The look on their faces was one of pure joy and their excitement was infectious. It was very moving for all of us and some of us found it hard to come to terms with. We all realise how lucky we are but until you witness their lives it is hard to imagine. There were lots of tears and hugs as we said goodbye. The kids felt like our family and the thought that we may not see them again was heartbreaking. During the afternoon when the field was quiet and the Ulamba kids at school we had time to think. No Luo to learn, games of football to be had, no jokes about how badly Mzungus chop vegetables! At the same time we had a sense of satisfaction of the fact that we had given the kids 10 days of fun, laughter and food and this was the feeling that was most prominent.
The following morning we left Ulamba with mixed emotions – excitement for the safari but also the underlying sadness of leaving our second home. Mama Rose summed it up perfectly - "remember that your Ulamba family will always welcome you home". Our Ulamba memories will be unforgettable.
9 July 2012
Over the past week a lot has been going on. The days begin at 7am, lighting the camp fires and preparing breakfast of very sweet tea and boiled eggs!
The days are filled with fun activities including teaching the kids about Scotland, basket weaving and arts and crafts. The kids love to dance and have enjoyed a few basic Scottish dances e.g Gay Gordons andStrip the Willow but the Grand Old Duke of York is a favorite.
Despite the heat we spend a lot of time playing sport. Yesterday we had the Ulamba Olympics with the sub camps competing against each other. This was followed by Ulamba’s got Talent. We were very impressed with the local kids attempts at 500 miles and Loch Lomond! The kids seemed more amused than impressed at our attempts at their local songs in their Luo language. The results from both Ulamba’s got Talent and The Olympics will be announced at tomorrow's closing ceremony. We have also been on a couple of trips outside the camp. The work at the project continues and all groups have now been to Kisumu. All the sub camps have also visited the home of one of the Kenyan children in their camp. This proved to a very emotional experience; it’s easy to forget the reality of their backgrounds whenyou see them in the camp with their big smiles.
We are all feeling sad to have reached our last day with the kids but also excited about the next few days ahead as our journey continues.
We leave here on Tuesday and head to Nakuru for safari and then up to Naro Moro for 3 nights to look at some other Moving Mountains projects
as well as safari at Sweetwaters Reserve. After that we will head to Lake Naivasha for a few days to relax before walking through Hells Gate National Park and then back to Nairobi.
4 July 2012
We arrived safely in Kenya on Friday night after a long day of travelling, and stayed in a campsite near Nairobi. After a short sleep we packed our tents and headed west on a 13 hour drive to Ulamba, seeing zebras and baboons on the way and crossing the equator.
When we arrived at Ulamba we were greeted by Mama Rose who is 'mother to all the children'. She was so kind and welcoming and helped us all settle in.
On our first morning we discovered that the next door neighbour prays at 5.30am every morning, ringing a cow bell very loudly for about half an hour. However, even that has failed to wake us properly! The long drops are certainly a new experience and to shower by hand from a bucket of cold water is surprisingly refreshing. So far the food has been good and we have had our first taste of Ugali – which is interesting!
We’ve been introduced to the orphans and heard about their various backgrounds which has been an eye opener to say the least. The happiness that Ulamba has brought them is incredible and the kids are never without a smile.
Yesterday the first sub-camp headed to Kisumu (Kenya’s third largest city) for a day trip. It included a boat trip on Lake Victoria seeing hippos. Some of the children had never seen the lake before or open water, or been on a boat so loved it. We also visited a museum/zoo about the traditional Luo culture and heritage and saw snakes, a 190 year old tortoise and a crocodile. After lunch we headed to Nakumatt, a large supermarket, where we bought some home comforts (junk food)!
We are all having a great time and are all still healthy – the Kenyas have said we lasted longer than most Wazungu (westerners) without having toilet illness!
Rosie and Waverley