Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Journal - Part 2

Monday 8th October
Somehow, I am sitting in suite number 918 of the Safari Club Hotel – Nairobi’s only all-suite hotel…it feels very uncomfortable.
The contrasts today have been stark and have now been made all the more apparent by us rolling into the forecourt of the hotel at 9pm to be greeted by bellboys, concierge and a restaurant serving ostrich steak and crocodile medallions.
We began this morning with a breakfast of traditional simple African fare before setting off for our first project visit of the day – the Community Water Project in Ntuka where a pipeline covering some 42 kilometres has been established to transport water into the Maasai communities.

The people we spoke with were very warm and welcoming although the children were naturally very nervous of 20+ white people wielding cameras and asking questions. We gained their trust and they soon became relaxed – laughing and joking while we explored a traditional homestead or ‘boma’, only a few metres from the new water kiosk – the women no longer having to walk up to 20km a day for water. This in turn meant the children were now able to attend school and gain an education.

On reaching the school we were greeted by song and dance from the children – all kitted out in very smart uniforms from the youngest of about 4 up to 16 and 17 year olds. We toured the classrooms – both old and new and looked through school books where the children were learning subjects such as astronomy, nutrition, crop rotation, diseases and vaccinations and many others.
After this we were treated to a special dance by several members of the school which involved participation from several of our party. We distributed t-shirts that had been designed by children in the UK and then subjected the school to a rendition of ‘head, shoulders knees and toes’, they were not overly impressed.
After lunch on the move, we travelled to the final stop of our visit – the Intake and irrigation furrows that have provided the water for these communities and many others. The simple system merely channels the little water there is into a furrow for irrigation then into the pipeline that stretches across the plains and serves over 5,000 people and 18,000 animals – without the use of pumps. Something very basic and simple, but of such importance to the community, which has now taken over control of maintaining it.
We then set off for our trip back to Nairobi via Narok – a journey of some 6 hours the first parts of which afforded us glimpses of much wildlife – zebra, wildebeest, Thompson’s gazelle, impala, dik-dik, ostrich, secretary birds and baboons as well as many beautiful birds such as bee eaters and kites.
We eventually rolled into Nairobi and the palatial surroundings we now find ourselves in and sat straight down to a dinner of goat stew (the most basic and traditional thing I could find on the menu) whilst waiting for the second bus which it seems had turned up at a different safari hotel on the other side of town.
Despite the best efforts of the hotel staff to persuade us otherwise – a few ventured to a bar around the corner for a couple of drinks before retiring for the night.

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