Having our first flight to Amsterdam delayed due to a lost luggage, we made good use of our orientation skills and sprinted with our hand luggage in Schiphol airport, where we had to transfer across the airport and catch our flight in about 20 minutes.
The students and staff were clearly in good shape because we made it. However, 2 of our bags did not! One of them extended its stay in Amsterdam for another day, and the other took a small day trip to Turkey instead.
Upon our arrival the buses were waiting for us and just after midnight local time we arrived at Shamba Kipara Camp. After a very short welcome and briefing about the program for the next 2 days’ we headed to our tents for a very short nights’ sleep.
The students were split into two groups, and along with the other 80 students from Prague, Warsaw, Al Khor and Hanoi, completed their scheduled program while they had the opportunity to get to know each other.
We had the fantastic opportunity to visit and camp at the Tarangile National Park for 2 days and observe the wild animals in their natural habitat, which at times felt like being part of a documentary on National Geographic Channel! It was so beautiful, so diverse, and so surreal. The large variety of wildlife, with their hierarchy and hunting instincts, were at times rough, but stunning too.
The authenticity of the park was underlined by the number of scattered Maasai settlements, with locals dressed in their traditional dress looking after herds of kettle.
The next stage of our mission was to learn more about permaculture from a local farmer. It may or may not have been just coincidence, but what we were to study from Mr. Kitomari,he had learnt at an Agricultural college that had been set up by Polish refugees who fled from Europe during WW1 and WW2. The community of refugees still exists and was located only 18 minutes’ drive from our base camp. Mr.Kitomarihas proudly shown us, how from even very little resources one can create a farm that is self-sufficient. His knowledge about irrigation, keyhole gardens, use of animal droppings to produce gas and manure, and the combination of plants that would support each other in growing, was spectacular and has inspired many of us to bring some of the ideas we have seen back to school.
Equipped with knowledge and eager to start to work, we went to Nazareti, a remote settlement with a state school that provides education for about 2-300 primary and middle school students, where we were about to set up a garden. The lunches for students are cooked by parent volunteers from the resources that other parents donate. By having its own garden, the school will be able to grow its own vegetables, so that the burden of food donations will become less; the likelihood of parents then sending their children to school because of that free food each day should increase.