This year’s annual WTA donor trip took place between 2nd August and 12th August 2016. This year we mainly visited Baraka Shalom community in Molo Area, Nakuru County Kenya.
The trip began with arrival everyone in Nairobi from 2nd to 3rd August. For the staff of WTA it also involved getting ready and stocking up on essential supplies to make the trip a bit more comfortable by getting things like clean drinking water, snacks, blankets and hats for everyone since the community we were visiting was high up in the Mau mountain ranges it is better to be prepared for the cold chilly weather.
The donors coming on this trip came from USA, Canada, Brazil, France and Guadalupe Island in the Caribbean. The entire group had 21 people and for the first time in a while there were little kids accompanying their parents which required some special arrangements like car seats and extra vehicles to ensure the safety and comfort for the young ones to enjoy the trip.
On the first day of the trip, we traveled from Nairobi to Giwa farm community (the site of our first schools in Kenya, where Shalom primary school and Springs High School are located). This was to visit the community which is on the way to final destination as well as show our donors the impact a school has on the community.
Since we built the schools here five/six years ago, there is a noticeable impact which is directly related to the establishment of the schools. Some of the donors in this group had actually been on such a trip before and came to Shalom six years ago therefore they were the best testimonials of change that has happened here. They were also reunited with members of the community who they made a connection with on the first trip around. When we arrived there was a huge celebration welcome from the school kids, teachers and community members. Later we headed on to Baraka Shalom community higher up the mountains. When we arrived at Baraka, we were received warmly with the whole community having waited for our arrival the whole afternoon. We were also settled into our camp for the night.
The following day was the official opening of the school which happened late in the afternoon. But before this, the group got a chance to meet the whole community and also work on the school building painting the classrooms and hauling rocks with other workers on the site. From mid-morning until the opening ceremony the group got an opportunity to interact with the kids and have fun playing games.
The official opening ceremony was attended by the county governor of Nakuru County, Mr. Kinuthia Mbugua who arrived in style by helicopter on time to make time for the official opening – shattering a running joke about African time that everything seems to be on. Later that evening the whole group was invited to the governor’s house which is nearby for dinner. We got time to discuss a possible future endeavor into the area of tertiary education beyond the primary and high school education we currently pursue.
On that Saturday, we spent the whole day interacting and working with the community, visiting their homes, meeting with the headmasters and principals of our project schools and of course having fun with kids. Later in the evening we had the chance to share our experiences and stories around a huge camp fire.
On Sunday morning, we bid the community goodbye as we headed back to Nairobi. Along the way we passed by a potential new location where the situation is a lot more troubling since these people have not been fully resettled. All the families are living in temporary arrangements before final allocation of land to individual households. The donors got an experience of where these communities come from before resettlement and why a school becomes a central block in building a new community.
After arrival in Nairobi, the group had some time to relax in better facilities than in the camping site. The next day we visited a school and rescue center in Kajiado County near Nairobi. Here we saw the various ways Shelter Children Home and School is striving to be self-sufficient. This is an experience for us all into how a self-sufficient school would look because they grow food for consumption and sale to generate income that is needed to run the school.
On Tuesday, the group headed off to Masai Mara National Park to relax and witness the great migration. After three days on Safari, the group was back for a final dinner before flying off back home.
Sam – WTA Field Rep