On our latest visit to Northern Kenya to identify feasible safe water projects my 74 year old mum made an impulsive, last minute decision to join us. Upon returning I have encouraged her to write a blog about the experience which we are now sharing with you for your enjoyment. It is fascinating to see someone else’s perspective, especially someone I know so well. Congratulations mum, you are an intrepid traveller and I am glad you enjoyed meeting the beautiful people of the Samburu as much as we do.
The Samburu Project
Mum at a Samburu well
Jackie and Mark were due to leave in 10 days on a feet finding tour of the Samburu Region of Kenya.
Mark had experienced some of the dire needs amongst the people of Africa whilst taking part in a motorbike safari the previous year. They decided they would try to do something to help alleviate the misery of drought and famine and with no access to clean water.
So Rally4Life was born.
This present trip follows on from traveling with the British charity Just a Drop ( and film crew ) who had gathered the necessary engineers etc to dig a well in the Samburu region north of Nairobi.
They were subsequently inspired to offer funds raised by Rally4Life, but unfortunately the Canadian charity licenses would not allow them to work with a UK based organization. So they approached a Canadian team, Ryan’s Well, who had already worked in the area with the locally based Samburu Project.
This was originally set up by an American tourist who was so impressed when passing through the area, the she joined forces with a local Samburu lady to work with aid sources to improve the plight of these impoverished people. Through Ryan’s Well contact was made with Lucas who set up a fact finding tour for Rally4Life. Unfortunately, one small team cannot change the world, the media are constantly reporting stories where devastating famine and political unrest are decimating whole areas in the world, but as the saying goes, from one small acorn a mighty oak will grow.
Jackie and Mark wanted to be sure that the wells already installed in the area were satisfactory i.e. regularly maintained, sustainable, etc. and if so funding could be released to continue providing more wells in other needy areas. As a family we had visit Kenya in 1974 and had explored this region, I was thus very interested in their plans and we were pouring over a map, spotting places like Nanyuki, Nyeri and Isiolo, when I said how I would love to be going too! That evening Jackie came over and said I could go, did I want to?! My first reaction was “No, I couldn’t possibly do that,” but the next day, I thought why not!
There followed a mad dash to buy my tickets and all necessary accommodation booked alongside theirs, check on vaccinations being up to date, etc.
My goodness how the anticipation was rising! In just 10 days everything was in order, my cabin bag allowance ( no more luggage allowed! ) was packed and we were on our way. Richard was left house sitting with just the dog for company, though on our return I heard he was well looked after by our friends.
We set off for Vancouver to fly via KLM to Amsterdam and from there a short hop over to London UK. On arrival, we spent the rest of that day meeting of some Mark’s contacts, one of them a delightful young lady, who goes by the name of “Squash”. She publishes a magazine for adventure sports people, just the person for Mark’s interests!
We continued our journey to Rugby in Warwickshire to spend a couple of days with friends and family before the big adventure began.
Day 4, 5, 6
Back to London VERY early for the KLM flight to Nairobi ( via Amsterdam )
On board the jumbo jet “to jumboland” there was time to sit back and contemplate what was to come.
One unwelcome piece of news just breaking as we left was that there had been much trouble in the North-East of the Country from the Somali rebels which compounded with the awful drought and famine in the area, causes unimaginable hardship and deaths.
However, arriving at our destination the airport seemed quiet and secure, but as we were proceeding through passport control, the account of yet another explosion was flashed up on the screen on a nearby TV set.
Mark made a brief text to his parents, not to worry! We were fine.
Actually we were not worried for our own safety, just appalled that these things happen. Even so, a crowded airport can be a prime target with so many people gathered in a small space, that we didn’t hang around, but got a cab to our accommodation at the East Africa Flying Club. The drive, like most foreign taxi journeys, was swift!
What a fabulous place, the club house was a glimpse of the past, built at the time in the 30′s when flying was the sport of the rich.
It was all very friendly and comfortable, the veranda, from where we watched (and heard) dozens of tiny aircraft coming and going with passengers touring the vast game reserves. After a good nights rest, we set off by taxi to collect the little Suzuki jeep type vehicle which Mark had reserved for our journey north to the Samburu.
We had lunch with a lovely elegant lady acquaintance in a smart modern shopping mall. We made one or two more visits and phone calls, to set up more meetings during our time in Kenya.
Jackie and Mark drove out and spent the evening with some colleagues thereby getting their bearings around Nairobi which is now a very large, busy, cosmopolitan city. Much has changed here since ’74!!
An early start the next morning saw us on our way out of town (if we could find the route north). The roads were very congested and not at all well maintained. Also there are huge road works in progress, so some of the surface was finished and good. The rest was torture! The worst obstacles were the unmarked sharp edged speed bumps, it seemed to me enough to knock the wheels off our little Suzuki, but we survived!
The traffic was fast, to the point of near suicidal, you would think the owners would have been more sedate, though it is fair to say that none appeared to be damaged in the scrummage.
Now we were really on our way and as we headed north I pondered as to whether much would have changed over the past 35 years. In fact it all looked very familiar, the countryside was green and fertile, the newest venture, lots of huge green houses (This is where our roses and green beans came from in England).
The little towns were much the same having very few modern buildings, but still the huge roadside markets, busting as I remember with people. The same brightly coloured sarongs being worn by the women also as I remember and the enormous range of goods for sale.