We are all smiles here at Camps International. Our September ’09 Kenya Gap Expedition just got back from Camp Tsavo where they spent the week as our ambassadors for Peace One Day. After they wiped all the dust and dirt off from the road trip, the stories and the pictures came flooding in. This was a very special week for all of us as our Gappers teamed up with children from Sasenyi Primary School and spent the week together on game drives, making elephant dung paper and preparing for a series of fun events and performances to be held at the school. It’s been a great privilege to be part of this global movement and who better to tell the story than the very people who lived it…(a big thanks to all of you!)
Living on the periphery
Our experiences in Tsavo began when we visited Sasenyi Primary School, and were welcomed by the Deputy Headmaster, Fred. The situation at the school was very depressing, and confronting. Through stealth and secrecy, we deduced that the annual government funding Sasenyi gets is approx. 109,000Ksh. This is approx. $1780AUD ÛÒ a sum that an average private school student in Australia pays quarterly. This struck us as somewhat unfair. The next day we were invited to visit 15 childrenÛªs houses, and these kids would subsequently be staying with us at Camp Tsavo. These families would have to fit upward of ten people into houses that were no bigger than our bathroom at camp. They would have a separate room for cooking, with no ventilation and fanning apparatus to prevent smoke inhalation. The kids would also have to walk considerable distances to get to school each day; one group visited a number of children that lived up to 7 km away, meaning a 14 km trip per day. That is not taking into consideration how far away water was, and how many trips a day family members would need to have adequate supplies.
Whilst visiting these families, we asked them how big a problem the native wildlife caused for their crops. Elephants = Hassle town. The elephants would come and trample valuable crops ÛÒ there was no effective way to consistently prevent this. Some villagers would make noise and shine lights in an attempt to scare the elephants. However, this was not a guaranteed method of getting rid of the elephants and as they mainly came at night, the villagers would not always wake up in time. As well as this, there were scorpions, spiders and snakes for the people to worry about. There is also no separate area for the animals kept there to be ÛÒ which means that there are some hygiene issues as small children and dirty animals are forced to co-inhabit. In some cases, goats and chickens would need to sleep directly beneath and/or adjacent to the family. The sleeping quarters were also located right next to the food preparation area, which meant more hygiene problems. Domesticated animals, such as cows, are extremely helpful as they assist in carrying water to and from the home (up to seven hours return). Significant absence of H20 ÛÒ to have enough water for cooking, many kids could not wash properly.
Bridging the Divide
highlighting that even though elephants may destroy crops, their excrement can be used to begin a sustainable lifestyle. This point was driven home even more so when we visited the Imani Womens Group, who grew mushrooms from elephant poo fertilizer and sold them to the community at a much cheaper price than the local market. We also went on safari with the kids, who had not seen any of their native animals despite their close proximity. We saw lion cubs, elephants, giraffes, a number of four-legged antelopey things and warthogs. All of this hopefully made a profound effect on the children – Fred told us it had been the best experience of his life, and said it was a successful step in bridging the gap between humans and wildlife. Human-Wildlife Cooperation… Moving on, Human/Wildlife Peace Day was quite a success. Loved the volleyball. The officials that rocked up were the Education Officer, the Headmaster and the Local Chief. The HIV/AIDS Awareness Group performed a play entirely in Swahili. It was funny,
apparently. EveryoneåÊ seemed to get it, and hilarity ensued. There was a goat, which interrupted the first half of the program with its incessant bleating. Suspiciously, goat was served for lunch, and no further evidence of aforementioned goat could be found. The group that had stayed with us in Camp Tsavo performed a brief play about poaching and the far-reaching consequences it has for not just the community, but the entire universe. Even though this was also performed in Swahili, it was
relatively easy to follow, and quite funny, as the boys playing the poachers were quite expressive in their actions. There was a dance performed by some of the women with lots of jingling and an interesting instrument we had never seen before, that looked like it had been made out of a funnel and a hose. It was Û÷wellÛª entertaining. The final performance was the school childrenÛªs dance, who invited us to join them. We did, and quite possibly damaged the schoolÛªs reputation beyond repair. CanÛªt teach a white person to dance! A few tears were shed as we left that day. Despite the conditions that the villagers had to live in, they were nothing but accommodating and welcoming. They took great pride in what they had, and were not embarrassed of their situation, only seeking a way to better it…
PS> Loads more photos HERE!