Laura's stay with Agape in Kenya
Looking back at the diary I kept during our time in Kenya with the Agape, I find I have begun each day’s entry with ‘BEST DAY EVER!!!’ or words to that effect. Although we were only with them for 3 days, we managed to fit so much in and each day I think we all experienced something each day which took our breath away. I know for certain that the vivid memories I have of those 3 days will stay in my mind for a very long time.
On the first day we hired bikes and visited Hell’s Gate National Park. I knew we wouldprobably get to see some animals but I had never expected to see so much beautiful wildlife in such close proximity. There were herds of zebras grazing all around us and wandering across the track in front of us! We saw gazelles, tiny pumbas (warthogs) and spotted a secretary bird in the long grass. We even got to ditch our bikes and scramble up Pride Rock (as seen in The Lion King!) to marvel at the stunning scenery surrounding us. After the ‘bike’ came the ‘hike’ which involved walking, and sometimes scrambling, through an amazing rocky gorge. We even had our first hot shower of the holiday – a waterfall which derived from the hot springs (these hot springs also fed the geothermal power plant that we had a fascinating tour of later on). In the evening we were treated to a boat trip on Lake Naivasha and a walk on one of its islands where we saw more incredible wildlife – flamingos, storks, herons, pelicans, baboons, waterbuck, giraffes and even a family of basking hippos which we viewed tentatively from the motor boat!
Although it was at times upsetting, it was reassuring to know that Agape Volunteers are hugely involved in the camp and work to make a real difference to the quality of life of the residents.
The second day was more educational and in the morning we had a tour of a flower farm where some of Kenya’s main goods are produced ready to be sold in UK supermarkets. We then headed off to one of Kenya’s many IDP camps (internally displaced people as a result of post-election turmoil). This was in many ways a really eye-opening experience as the level of poverty in the camps is severe; most people live in tiny shacks made of plastic bags, iron sheets and newspaper. Although it was at times upsetting, it was reassuring to know that Agape volunteers are hugely involved in the camp and work to make a real difference to the quality of life of the residents. We were given the opportunity to help out by distributing food packages and those of us hoping to enter into in a medical or caring profession were able to assist the community nurse in giving out appropriate medication at the camp clinic. Some of the volunteers who had bought toys and clothes were surrounded by crowds of excitable children eager to have something of their own. I have never seen a child cherish a McDonald’s freebie with so much gratitude. It was hugely humbling to meet some of these people and to realise that in reality they are just like us with the same needs and emotions yet they have been through so much and have so little.
We spent the day enjoying some of the more touristy attractions Nairobi has to offer. We arrived at the baby elephant sanctuary just in time for feeding. Watching baby elephants helping themselves to enormous bottles of milk is adorable. At the giraffe sanctuary, we were told to put a food pellet between our lips and stand at the top of a giraffe-sized tower, waiting to be kissed by a giraffe. I managed to avoid a kiss but apparently it was a truly romantic experience. The afternoon was spent in the Masai market where shopping reached a new level of extreme. There were all kinds of beautiful fabrics, jewellery, wooden sculptures, bowls, tribal clothing and everywhere we walked we were surrounded by eager stall-holders wanting to shake our hands, know our names and where we come from and introduce us to their stall. By the end of the afternoon, we were all accomplished hagglers and somehow ended up going home with heavier suitcases than when we arrived…
To finish our last day in Kenya in style we were taken to an incredible Ethiopian restaurant in town (apparently the best restaurant in Nairobi – I can believe it).
I was sad to have to leave Kenya but I’m planning on returning one day!
Thanks Agape for such a fantastic time.