Brentwood Explorer Scouts Venture Off To Kenya
“MAKING A DIFFERENCE"
For two weeks starting from 26th July, 75 members of the Scout Association from Essex and Hampshire all teamed up to travel to Kenya. Two years of fundraising and planning had been put into making the trip possible, but no amount of car washes or bag packs could ever compare to the work that went on in the infamous Nairobi slum of Kibera.
Every participant made room in their luggage for lots of stationary supplies and toys, which were brought to Kibera Primary School on the third day of our trip. To say that they were gratefully received would be a huge understatement and we also offered to pay for ten of the highest excelling students to go on a trip that would otherwise be too expensive. We were frequently told how honoured the students felt to have us in their school, when in actual fact the privilege was all ours. Interacting with the children and carrying them around on our shoulders; teaching them maths or nursery rhymes; playing football with them and hearing their infectious laughter when we lost to them in a race was the most amazing thing that any of us could ever hope to experience. The majority of Scouting in Kenya is based within schools, and so when we visited the primary school we were also lucky enough to be introduced to some of the Scouts there, who operate under the 'Extension Scouting Programme'. It was so interesting to share each other's experiences with Scouting and discover the similarities and differences between us as we strengthened the ties between our two groups.
After spending two days in the school and creating memories that would last a lifetime, we moved onto some work projects a bit closer to home. We were staying at the Rowallan Scout Campsite in Nairobi and were treated unbelievably well, so when we had the opportunity to do some work around the site during the second week everyone was eager to get stuck in. It was the least we could do to repay the hospitality that the Kenyan Scout Association had shown us as we tidied up their store room, painted new signs and planted hundreds of new trees and vegetation around the site. It was an incredible experience to see as Scouts from the UK and Kenya worked together across the campsite, making friends and bonding over how to build the sturdiest bench or figuring out the best way to knock down an old water tower. The sense of achievement, once all the tasks were completed, spread throughout the whole group and it was nice to sit by the campfire at night to admire what we had accomplished together.
However it wasn't all work and no play and the accomplishments didn't stop at building benches.
We learnt about the challenges the Kenyan people face around poaching when visiting the baby elephants at the world famous David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. We were also lucky to be able to visit the Kenya Wildlife Service to learn about the impact of climate change and had the opportunity to get up close and personal to hippos, zebras and cheetahs at Narobi National Park.
We also experienced a hair raising safari coach journey around Nakuru National Park where we saw the natural habitat of lions, buffalo, giraffe, zebra and several types of birds.
Midway through our trip we had the opportunity to climb up a dormant volcano called 'Sleeping Warrior', where we trekked over 2,000m high before playing a once in a lifetime game of football in the middle of the volcanic crater. Fears were conquered and stamina was tested, but when you're surrounded by over 70 people all going on the same journey and encouraging you every step of the way, it was no surprise that everyone managed to finish together.
I think that applies for the whole trip in general as well – it was tough at times and fears had to be overcome, but with such a large community behind us it was hard to ever feel alone. The people that we met and the things that we experienced, shaped us all into better people in such a short space of time and I think it's safe to say that Kenya 2013: We came, we saw, we made a difference.