A Travellerspoint blog

Life at Mwaluganje

overcast 28 °C

I finally put up some photos!!! Yes I know it has been 6 weeks, but in my defence I only got my camera lead yesterday, and I would have put up more, but my camera just ran out of battery, so if you can all be a little patient, then there will be more at the weekend I PROMISE! Other news... Oh, I am travelling after, it is def gonna happen. Yay very exciting, don't have to worry about flying home early, now just have to worry about travelling around East Africa with my boyfriend (just kidding it will be awesome!).
Right so where shall we start, the day we left for the sanctuary we helped at a food relief in a village near us. It was crazy, we formed line to hand out a bag of flour to each person, but there must have been thousands of people there, who had been waiting hours in lines. It was really sad that these people were so desperate for 2kg of flour, which at home I wouldn't think twice about. Some people in our group were taking photos of it but I disagree with that, so sorry but you can't catch me in action there.
In the elephant sanctuary we went on loads of game drives, saw so many elephants, and on one of the mornings we did this really cool identification drive, were we took photos of the bull elephants ears, and then matched them to cards of already IDed ellies, and if they weren't done, we drew a picture of the ear, and gave them a name. Also saw warthogs, impala (like antelope), heard hyenas, saw loads of eagles and stuff - got some good photos of them and will put them up soon - and generally it was amazing.
Work-wise, we dug trenches on the road leading to the gate, so that the water doesn't ruin it when it rains, that was hard work but satisfying. We also cleared the electric fence surrounding the park, cos if the weeds touch it then the current doesn't flow and the ellies can escape, which they were while we were there, and apparently the villagers were complaining cos they kept coming into the village, which is really dangerous. They are planting trees in the cleared areas which the animals don't like, so it is an extra barrier for the fence.
At the school we planted some seedlings for trees and stuff, and I did some maths teaching. It was great, the night before we were given an exercise, and so we had to do a lesson plan, and then teach it and mark during the lesson. It was terrifying, but made me so much surer that I want to be a teacher "when I grow up"! Also played volleyball against their team, and god we sucked. They beat us but we told the other group that we won, cos it was getting a bit competitive...
Last bit of work was helping witht he elephant dung paper. They sell book and photo albums and stuff which is made from recylcled paper and ellie dung. We helped make the paper, and them also made some diaries and albums and stuff, I bought one so I was allowed to paint it as well! It was like I was 6 again! But I found that the best bit, cos I could really see how the project was helping the locals. They volunteer to work at the factory, and then all the profit goes back into the community. It was great.
In the evenings will just chilled, had quizzes and made camp fires. I now know lots about elephants, how to distinguish them and everything! So go on test me, just test me!Haha...
Anyways there are people waiting to go on these computers so I have to dash, tonight is the last night for the 6-weekers so we are trying to make the most of today and then we are having a bbq tonight and going out, will be good fun but also kinda sad I guess. Can't believe just how fast 6 weeks has gone!
Love you all and miss you..
Emma xxxxxxx

Posted by emmabanham 03:29 Archived in Kenya Comments (0)

Quick one today...

overcast 25 °C

So I just got back from the elephant sanctuary, how can I describe the past week??? Hmmm.. Words can't do it. But I will try. We drove for 2 hours through the amazing hills (which was great cos the coast is totally flat) with the famous red sand and then arrive at the gate to the sanctuary, which is described as a migatory passage between Shimba hills and Tsavo NP. The first thing we saw was a group of 15 ellies stood under a tree cos of the heat, and it took my breath away seeing as I have never seen any elephants before. They are huge and kinda remind you of old men, just bumbling along!!
Our camp was on the top of a hill next to the main gate, and it had the most incredible view, I took a couple of viseos, but because of the computers here, I'm not sure when they can go up. It goes for miles across a valley, with huge barboa (dunno how you spell it- the tree with the monkey in the Lion King!!) trees just dotted around the place. We stayed in two person tents, I shared with a girl called Emily, and there was a big banda where we hung out and ate our meals etc. There were normal loos- and a long drop which I didn't use!- but because there was a water shortage we had to limit flushing and the shower water had to be constantly topped up. We found out that that part of Kenya hasn't had enough rain during the rainy season for the past 3 years, so now cattle are dying and stuff which is awful.
We had a really cool camp leader called Steven, who was lovely and laughed at us when we told him the Swahili sland we leant from the kids in Makongeni. He sorted out teaching for us at the local school, cos in Kenya, the schools have a month's holiday in April, so we hadn't been able to do any teaching before now. We also did fence clearing, trench digging, to allow drainage for the roads, looked after the tree nursery in the school, and also helped in the sanctuary making elephant dung paper, yes I put my hands in elephant dung to pick out sticks!!! It was great haha...
But now back in Makongeni and it came as such a shock how different everything is here. Our camp firstly. Here we sleep in big permanent tents, 3 sharing in each. There are proper showers and loos, and we have sinks and a board for doing our washing instead of a bucket (which was really hard!). We have a banda called big hut, which is where we spend our free time, with sofas, and a table and stuff like that. It's where we spend most of our time and is so much more comfy than the benches at the sanctuary! On the other side of the camp here is a marquee type thing, which has a load of garden furniture and is where we have our meals. There is also a camp fire there, and it's where the dancers go when we have dancers.
Anyways gotta go to dinner now, so will write again tomorrow and let you all know what I got up to the past week. Here is a little taster- we helped on a food relief trip, which was heartbreaking, I taught maths to 16 year olds (not science but maths!!!) and we had an elephant dung fight, where I got covered!
Love you all lots and miss you a little bit! But I am half way through the placement now...
Emma xxxxxxxxxx

Posted by emmabanham 07:07 Archived in Kenya Comments (0)

So freaking hot!

sunny 35 °C

Yes I know I said that I wouldn't be able to get on, but we changed our plans a little and so aren't going to the Elephant Sanctuary till tomorrow cos we are helping to take relief to starving families on the Tanzanian border, so we were all like 'the elephants can wait a day!!!' also we aren't working till Monday, and are doing a game drive on Sunday so it makes more sense really. So you all now get a lovely little email from me! Haha found out the funniest thing, not only has the Leap put this link on their site as the Kenya blog, but my old school have asked them if they can put it on their website to persuade other 6th formers to have gap years!! So if there is any College people reading this I say HELLO and welcome, this is possibly the randomest blog EVER but then it is just me on paper.
This week.... again work was boring, built A-frames for the roof, watered plants and collected goat dung to use as compost, so not much else to report there. It rained heavily on Tuesday morning, but only for an hour as we woke up, and since then it has been getting hotter and hotter, it has been such a beautiful week I can hardly describe it. Seriously sweaty though, especially when we are standing on desks chiselling holes in walls of the classroom. It is now 5.00pm and it is still roasting here.
Got a bit annoyed with the group yesterday, cos we had complained that we were sitting around too much last week and there wasn't enough work to do, but then yesterday everyones sat around talking when there was loads of work to be done! It was so hypocritical and I just felt sorry for Combo and Rama who help us, cos they just had to do everything.
We had quite a lot of drama on Sunday at the beach, cos two of the boys Rich and James decided to swim out to the reef, which admittedly isn't that far, but the tide was coming in and after and hour and a half we sarted getting really worried, esp. since we couldn't see them. We all spread down the beach, and we about to pay a boat to go out and find them, when e saw them still really far out, but on their way back. They were like 'we're fine what are you all worried about!' we all could have thumped them! So now we have all decided not to swim out again cos it can be sooo dangerous if the tide is even the tiniest bit against you, you can get swept through the reef and out to sea with the sharkies!
The girls played a netball match against the girls from the school after work and we won 12-9 although we were hammering them at one point! I was goalie for most of it cos no one else wanted to be, then right at the ended I somehow ended up as shooter and scored the most amazing goal (no I'm not boasting, just stating the facts!) from so far away. Made my day and the girls hated us even more -it got a bit tense and they got a little agressive!- but they were really good and we want to do it again.
Also, I have done my plan for travelling after the placement has finished and apart from a few holes it is all ready to go! There is a girl here called Emily who is thinking about coming with me, so we will just have to see how it all plays out won't we? I will try and put it on the map but not sure how it is going to work.
Anyways I know this is quite short, and there are things I have missed out, but everyone is waiting for me to go to the supermarket so I had better hurry!! My parcel arrived this week, ut I couldn't pick it up today cos it is a national holiday so the post office is shut, and we are away from tomorrow, so someone from the office is hopefully gonna bring it to me when we are there. But it came Mum, it came!!! Whoop!!
Miss you all lots and lots, but I am so happy now and loving it all here. Love you lots as well obviously!
Won't have another blog for 10 days so don't miss me too much!
Emma xxxxxxxxx

Posted by emmabanham 07:09 Comments (0)

Hungover!

sunny 30 °C

Jambo! Habari gani? (How are you?) Everyone has to be nice to me today, I'm delicate as my mother would say. Lat night was the last weekend here for the 6-weekers, so we all dressed up as cavegirls and got very very drunk. Jeg you would be impressed with me though, I made my dress with safety pins and a needle and thread!!!! It has been quite cold this week, with a far bit of rain, I finally got some use out of my wooly hat and HUGE rain poncho! Brilliant photo, you will all see it soon.
Right, this week I was building desks and tables, and after the success with the cement it all kinda went downhill with the wood!! Capentry as a profession is def out the window, shame. I can't cut straight, and when I plane it takes chunks out of the wood instead! But we didn't really do that much work, even though we built 2 desks and a table from scratch. Most of the time we were all distracted with mud fights and the rain. That was the best day we have had so far, there was a big storm before we started work, so then we all started late. Our group was happily sawing wood, when we saw Tan running towards our shed, covered in mud and carrying a shovel full of mud. It was like a bad horror film, cos we all ran through the trees being chased by 12 other people who were determined to make us so dirty! 3 of us escaped clean, and then I got some great videos of people mudsliding, before Rich and Emily got me covered and all down my back! Work had to finish early so that we could all go and shower! Then we had our cultural part of the day, didn't work in the aftenoon, but visited the local women in tghe village, who have just started a business making soaps and oils to sell in Ukunda. It is really great cos they only started a month ago, so they showed us how to make the soaps and tapestries. We also got to chat to the younger kids more which was nice cos they are normally too scared of the older boys to talk to us. We finished the day with a mini volleyball tournament in camp over a washing line, my team-mate was Jess and we lost every match so got the wooden spoon!!!
More sport this week, the football match that I was linesman for last week had the away leg on Thursday, in the village 10 mins down the road. It rained the whole time, and was utter chaos, but after some really bad refereing from Freddie, it was a 1-1 draw, so we acted like we won. The bus was a sight, it normally holds 25 people, but we somehow got 50 people in the back of the cattle truck! Quality photo. Also went out to a local restaurant for dinner and then we watched The Lion King on a big screen. I haven't seen it in years, and I cried when the Dad dies. Forgot what an amazing film it is, so decided that I'm gonna buy it when I get home, as a memory (mum, perfect birthday present!)
It was a bit cooler yesterday on the beach, so we played cricket- my eye came back pretty quickly and I was made to retire! So proud!!- and also a huge game of stuck in the mud on the sand, which then had to be stopped cos the tide was coming in. But today is beautiful, been tanning in my bikini, but the wind makes everything so sandy so quickly! In fact it is so beautiful that I'm going back out there to make the most of the sun.
We are going to the elephant sanctuary on Friday, so I won't have internet access for 2 weeks, can you all live without me? Have my Kenyan sim though, so those who have my number, I am reachable. Or you can all just pine for my next blog!!
Right, gonna go and rest my pounding head!
Love you lots and lots and miss you all so much...
Emma xxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by emmabanham 06:03 Comments (0)

Very long blog so I'm sorry...

rain 28 °C

So much has happened this week I brought my diary with me so that I don't forget anything... Really sorry if this is ridiculously long but I am finally on a free computer so I'm making the most of it!
Lat weekend we went snorkelling and I semi-conquered my fear of deep water. I was miles from shore which was terrifying, but it was a reef, so was less that 5 metres deep and there were 20 other people on the water with me BUT STILL! Mum you should be proud! Then on Sunday morning Duncan, our camp leader took us to his church for the Easter sunday service. I cannot even begin to describe it to you, there were at least 600 people in this huge building all singing gospel and dancing around. They totally embraced the fatc that we were there and we all got so into it, dancing and clapping along (we couldn't sing with them cos it was all in Swahili but a few of us did try!!). So I forgot to put those things in the entry last week, and they had to be said really.
This week... Well work wise it has been really tough. We built the gable wall for the roof and filled in the last gaps in the wall. Then we built the pillars that will support the roof over the terrace. It is going a lot slower cos there are now only 6 in a group, and also building a classroom has to be kinda accurate, so everytime we do something it has to be measured over and over again!
I have played a lot of sport over the last few days. We had a football rematch against the little boys after we lost 3-1 last week, and although we ended up with 15 people on our team, 3 of them boys, we still managed to lose 4-0! Very embarrassing but we had so much fun... Then we got bored while working on Tuesday afternoon and so made a rounders bat and had a match on Wed lunchtime. My team won (just) after some serious arguments about no balls and whether people were out or not, and do we decided to make it a weekly event with a winners table! (yes we are all really competitive!!) Finally yesterday, the village team had a football match against another village, and somehow I ended up being the linesman and the pressure was quite scary!! They one 1-0 and we all got very excited for them cos they are all our little friends!
It was one of the girls birthdays last night, and to celebrate, Duncan got 15 Masai dancers to come to the camp. It was the most amazing thing I have seen yet. They did all the jumping and stuff, then got everyone up to dance with them, and then we all had a jumping competition. Unsurprisingly, they won! I got some great photos, but I forgot all my camera leads, so Mum has sent them, and I will try and put up some photos as soon as it arrives. We ended the eveing with pancakes by the chef Jofri (who makes such good food- today we had meatballs and pasta- it is almost as good as Mum's cooking, but not quite!) and toasting marshmallows on the camp fire.
Last bit I promise... You will never believe this but today it is raining. A lot! We are all in anoraks and shorts cos it is still quite warm. I am so happy, we all know I LOVE it when it rains? Well here it pours, and I mean pours. We were working on our pillars and within 2 minutes I was soaked to the skin. So I got up onto the scaffolding and put my arms out. The locals were laughing their heads off cos they had no idea what I was doing! Another gorgeos photo of me that will go up is of me in my sexy poncho that makes me look like a big blue postbox! Jeg, Hodgie and Rach I can guarentee that you will laugh for a long time. I am not tanning much, my arms are going a bit but I'm pretty sure my legs are still the same colour they were when I left home so nothing changed! I am being really clumsy though! Last week I fell over while out (SOBER!) and hurt my foot, then I fell down some steps on monday while carring a ladder. Someone dropped a brick on my hand on Wed and took all the skin off the fingers on my left hand, and today was the best one, that had everyone wetting themselves. We were having a water fight in the rain, and as I was running away from Rich, I slipped and ended up face down in a puddle. Soaked and filthy! Classic Emma!! Everyone was bent double cos they were laughing so much, so was I and so we didn't notice the fact that I now have a lovely graze going all the way down my leg... Oh well...
So that is eveything. I might have to start doing two blogs a week cos I'm guessing that this will be a huge effort to read so again I'm sorry! I miss you all loads and still have the daily pangs of getting on a plane and coming home which I fight rather well, but I'm sure they will go and I will forget who you all are!!
Please, PLEASE let me know what is going on at home!
Love you and miss you lots and lots...
Emma xxxxx
P.s. Have fun in the pub tonight Mum and Dad. Say hi to the Lucas', Nicki and Graham, as well as Rocky obv. and my phone will be on if you fancy calling me while you are there!!

Posted by emmabanham 05:35 Archived in Kenya Comments (0)

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