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Over four weeks during the summer, students from The Winsford Academy had the opportunity to take part in a life-changing expedition to Kenya, along with students from Grimsby and Essex. We stayed in three very different camps; Muhaka, Shimoni and Tsavo and the expedition introduced the students to a concept that was relatively new to them; community. This is not a word we use much in the UK, but in Kenya it is the glue that binds Kenya’s people together. Community values are deep-rooted and although daily life continues to be a struggle for many with crops barely growing under hostile, unforgiving skies, the people strive to look after each other in whatever way they can. Local projects are helping to educate people by providing expertise and resources, teaching them to utilise their talents to help them provide for their families and send their children to school.

 

Whilst on expedition, we took part in a wide variety of community projects including plastering and painting a school library, building school desks, renewing a classroom floor and digging up a damaged concrete floor. Other activities included tree planting, beadwork, making EDP (elephant dung paper), livestock de-worming, beach clean-up, wildlife monitoring and elephant deterrent which involves placing strips of aluminium along a wire that surrounds a piece of land. The sound from the sheets acts as a chime that deters elephants from entering the area and destroying crops and dwellings. We learned a great deal about the culture and had fun making chapatti’s, weaving roof thatch and visiting the local witch doctor.

 

As well as project work, we enjoyed a day of bush craft in the Murungu Hills; shelter building, archery using traditional bows and arrows and learning the art of making fire. We were extremely lucky to go on safari in Tsavo East National Park and were treated to dancing and a tour in a traditional Maasai village. Whilst in Shimoni, most of the students achieved their Open water Diving certification after completing theory and practical sessions in the pool and in the Indian Ocean.

 

There were countless ‘if only time could stand still’ moments and before we knew it, our time had come to an end. Each and every person felt enriched and humbled by our experience; the camp staff and communities are among the friendliest that we’ve ever come across and their gratitude for the work we did through Camps International was extremely rewarding. Kenya is a truly beautiful country filled with warm and wonderful people and we cannot wait to return in 2019.

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