Service is the prime aim of a Camps International trip and during our visit to Camp Tsavo, we were able to engage in these projects first hand.
Nearby to Camp Tsavo is Itinyi school, where many of the projects are undertaken. Whilst this school would be very dissimilar to any Australian school, it has grown greatly as a result of Camps International projects. Groups such as ours learn how to make bricks from the Project Manager Ibrahim, who explains the techniques clearly and also models the task through demonstration. Made with mud, concrete and wooden frames, then set to rest, this is a time consuming process. This work would take weeks for the locals to do and our contributions enable the locals to work on their own businesses. We also dug holes and planted some trees to provide shade in their school playground area.
Whilst I was disappointed that it was holidays and we couldn’t see the classes in action, we were lucky to meet the principal and some staff and hear about their school. School is taught in English and the children also learn Mathematics, Science and Swahili amongst others. It is clear the school is a wonderful learning facility as we met many children in the area who had fabulous English and confident and friendly dispositions. A group of delightful children came into their school school for the holidays, found us working and got stuck into the projects too. They helped us with our tasks and I would add they were possibly better at much of it than myself (certainly digging holes anyway). I will never forget these children; teaching them to play hopscotch, talking with them, offering clean water and simply taking a photo or two, which they absolutely loved.
Another local project involved cutting sheets of wire and hanging it on fences to deter elephants from the farms and prevent destruction to the villagers’ properties. I would imagine it to be an extremely time consuming job for the locals to complete, particularly with hand held wire cutters. It was extremely satisfying to see this work completed. The local children again turned up, this time more to play and show us old school marbles which they enjoyed playing.
The area also has a community based organisation for women developed by Mamma Mercy and we had the opportunity to hear from her about its creation as well as from its current president.
The women’s group encourages local women to make handicrafts and sell them in their store, as well as offering loans with interest when needed. The positive words these eminent women had about Camps International and it’s impact on their lives was extremely lovely to hear and we could see just how much they value the relationship of the community and Camps International. We learned to make some of their crafts like beaded bracelets and elephant poo paper. They are extremely clever women and enthusiastic about their women’s group which was inspiring to see. We wish them all the best for continued success.
Aside from the projects, one of the things I found most interesting was to do was visit the Maasai Mara tribe, well known for their distinctive colourful dress and customs. They welcomed us with some amazing “jumping ” dancing, melodic songs and dressed in beautiful clothing and jewellery. Living a pastoral lifestyle, centering around cattle, we were shown around their farms and semi permanent housing. It was extremely kind of them to open their homes to us.
Whilst staying at Tsavo and engaging in projects, we got to learn from the locals and hear just how much they love their jobs. On the last night, group member Dom, a very thoughtful and generous individual decided to put on a dinner for the staff – meat, jacket potatoes and a few drinks. He cooked, we served and cleaned up. The staff sat alongside us and ate together, sharing stories and even doing a Congo line to the tunes of Hakuna Matata. Both parties found this extremely gratifying and it was a lovely way to end the trip at Tsavo.
We left early the next morning and travelled another 6 hours to Camps International site at Diani Beach. Quite hot and close to the beach, the site is quite leafy and have some furry friends living on site. We took a walk to see the Camps International Projects in this area, such as some homes that have been built, additions to the local school such as a kitchen and a medical centre. We also bought some crafts and had clothes made to measure. There is some really meaningful work that has been achieved in the area and the continued work I’m sure will thoroughly benefit the community.
I had a wonderful time with the local children who were amazed by bubbles and balloons! Seriously – it’s the small things, no arcade games needed!
For our last day, we went down to Diani beach for R and R and spent the day in the pool and at the beach. It was a nice day to reflect on the trip that we’d been on and have fun with our new friends.
For anyone considering a trip with Camps International, I highly recommend it, for its meaningful benefits – both to yourselves and the communities you assist. Any of their trip offerings would be marvellous to take your family, school to learn about community responsibly and the act of serving others.
I had a wonderful time, made a bunch of new friends and will forever reflect on this positively.
I’d like to thank Camps International for making this possible, Will and Tanya in particular for organising my inclusion. Thank you to Yusura, our superb leader and all the staff at both sites. Thank you to the wonderful group of staff from across Australia for a wonderful week and all the amazing things you’re doing to promote service learning in your schools and beyond.
For further information, see Camps International on this link