Graeme and Candy

Land & Life sat down with some of our supporters, Graeme and Candy Smith, who are the General Managers at Elewana’s Tortilis Camp in Amboseli. They have taken on a personal responsibility – not simply supporting Land & Life as part of Elewana’s corporate role, but a personal sponsorship of one of the students at the local primary school Kosencha Lemaiyan.
Kosencha has had a rough ride, and now hopefully with the help of Graeme and Candy and the support of the Head teacher at the school, she will be able to complete her education and then go on to give back to this remote community, supporting her own family in her own way.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
We are both originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, and we have travelled extensively throughout Africa, Europe, Middle East, Far East, Australia and USA, spending the last 7 years managing various safari lodges throughout Tanzania. We arrived in May 2017 in Amboseli from Ruaha NP in Southern Tanzania.as new General Managers of EewanaTortilis Camp , Amboseli, Kenya. Both of us are very passionate about wildlife and conservation and and are excited to take over such an amazing lodge in such a fantastic location
Since you arrived in Amboseli, what have you felt has been the biggest challenge facing the local community?
The biggest challenges to the Maasai community since we arrived has undoubtedly been the drought, which had lasted for approximately 3 years until the rains arrived this year. A a lot of their culture revolves around their livestock so the poor condition or death of the cattle has proven hugely stressful and extremely damaging for the community. People have been forced to make very hard choices about how and where to spend what little resource they have, and often this has heart-wrenching results. We have come to understand the financial challenges of supporting, feeding and educating their families, not to mention maintaining their culture and heritage in an increasingly modern world, and feel great empathy for these welcoming people.

How did you become personally involved with Land and Life and what form does your support take?

Kosencha in school uniform

Land & Life has been working at Esiteti Primary School for some time, and have done a lot of work in both building classrooms and such like and channelling donations there for visitors. We happened to be visiting the school on behalf of Land & Life, taking desks that had been donated and meeting the children. We were just about to introduce ourselves to the Head Teacher when we heard the staff discussing a 13 year old girl – they had just stopped the parents from marrying her off and were discussing what to do next.
We had already decided we wanted to get involved with Land & Life, particularly with the work they are doing at Esiteti Primary School. Immediately we volunteered to sponsor this girl to help give her a chance of a good education.
Candy has a history of child development and we were both interested in helping where we could. We then learned her name, Kosencha, pronounced Kosenga. This is very similar to Candy’s mother’s name. Candy’s mother sadly died when Candy was 7 years old and she was called Senga, which is a traditional Scottish name. Knowing this we thought well, this was definitely MEANT to happen!!
So what do you know about Kosencha’s history and what are your future plans for her support?

Kosencha Lemaiyan is now fifteen but when we met her she was just 14 years old. She had been living with her uncle, as her mother was not capable of supporting her and her father has sadly had alcohol problems. Her uncle had recently

Kosencha with Candy

been having financial problems, and so he wanted to marry her off. She did not want to get married and she managed to run away. After failing to garner support from a Rescue Centre in Loitoktok, the HeadTeacher of Esiteti Ms. Phides took her in and she has been in her care ever since.

 
Kosencha has just turned 15 year and she is currently in class 3, so she has another eighteen months or so before she starts secondary school. In her free time, she likes to play football and is a quick runner! She does generally well in most subjects, but her favorite is Science, which is promising!
 
We plan to pay for her education right through until she finishes secondary school, so about another five or six years of support. We try to get to the school as much as possible and take a very keen interest in her and her education. Land & Life monitor her grades and her progress and keep us in the loop with any additional needs she has.
In your opinion, what is the most important work that Land & Life does?
The local community really need a helping hand. The people are bright, capable and intelligent but they face hardship every day and struggle to support themselves and their families. Often it is things like education which are seen as optional extras, and it is schools fees, or school support, which is the first to go. Land & Life plays a crucial role in uplifting the communities, turning their schools into places of good quality learning and giving opportunities to children who otherwise would struggle.
This is essential for conservation as well, since it is only through the commitment of the people of Kenya that the wildlife of Kenya stands a chance. By working with Land & Life the students a=are helped to understand the importance of conservation and wildlife, and see for themselves how conservation has direct benefits for themselves and their families.

Graeme and Candy delivering donations to Esiteti Primary

 Do you have a message to share for visitors to East Africa and for other Land & Life supporters?
 It is so very worth it! We are making a tiny difference with our support of Kosencha but we see the real impact of Land & Life and other such organisations’ work on the ground every day. Whoever you choose to support, make sure they are working directly – make sure they are honest and transparent – make sure they are doing their research with the community and will ensure your donation has the most impact possible.   We have  found Land & Life does all these things and are happy to support them. We see many visitors come through Amboseli who want to make a difference, to conserve wildlife, protect beautiful Kenya and life up the local communities. In our experience, Land & Life can help this to happen!

In partnership with the Lewa Digital Education Program, Land & Life is very excited to have started the new digital literacy training program. The Government of Kenya’s amazing provision of tablets to primary schools across the country has been rolled out and now we have been able to help some of the schools get started with using them.

 

 

The first school to benefit has been Esiteti Primary in Amboseli. There two trainers from Lewa arrived with Steve from Land & Life and conducted  a two day training session with both students and teachers. Everyone was shown how to use the tablets and access the resources provided by the Government and the teachers were trained on teaching entire lessons with the tablets. It was a hugely successful event and we look forward to repeating the training at our other Wildlife Warrior Schools.

 

 

The next step at Esiteti is to be the purchase of an Annotator device which will allow the teachers to utilise the interactive whiteboard feature in class. We are also purchasing a wifi router to provide the school, for the first time, with access to the internet.

 

This will also have the added benefit of letting the Lewa training team conduct updates and further training remotely.

 

Watch this space for more updates, and please do contact us if you would like to get involved and support this amazing development

This month has been a busy month for school donations, both in kind from generous donors and in funds which have been used to buy specific items for the schools.

Embiti Primary Wildlife Warriors were delighted to receive a solar light each to take home for their families. This donation came in a few months ago from Mary Jean Tully, who will be happy to hear that these young children each now have a way to do their homework in the evenings, not to mention helping the family get on with their daily lives. Embiti also benefitted from a number of donations from Sand River Mara guests including text books, stationery and crayons.

 

Esiteti Primary received 90 three seater locker desks courtesy of SKAL Monaco as part of the much wider projecty involving classroom construction and repair of the school.  Esiteti also received a good amount of stationery from other Tortilis guests, and are excited about the progress being made on their school farm.

 

Ura Gate Primary was over the moon to receive a large photocopier-printer as part of ongoing school development. This printer is more than a simple administrative tool – it will allow them to print off examinations thus generating income by becoming a regional examination centre.

 

 

Ololomei Primary has been having repairs and maintenance done on the semi permanent classrooms while the staff at Elephant Pepper Camp work hard to raise funds for a new permanent classroom. In the meantime they have received donations of clothes and books as well as, most recently, some new shoes!

 

You may recall that the end of 2017 saw a great effort from staff at Elewana, Cheli & Peacock and Sopa Head Offices, where contributions were brought in for our Wildlife Warrior Schools as part of the global Giving Tuesday campaign. We can now report that finally after a few weeks of logistics and planning, the donations have been delivered to the schools.

 

 

 

 

 

In Kenya, Land & Life delivered boxes of toys and books and bags of food to Kachiuru Primary School in Isiolo County, while in Tanzania several boxes of foodstuffs, bags of clothes and an additional generous contribution of cleaning products and hygiene supplies from Robico Chemicals we taken to Ganako Primary School in Karatu. Staff from Land & Life, The Manor and Elsa’s Kopje were delighted to visit the school and chat to the staff and students, hand over the goods and enjoy some time together.

 

 

Discussions are already underway as to the expenditure of the remaining Giving Tuesday funds, which in Kachiuru will be used in the construction of a boys toilet block, while in Tanzania the funds will go into the pot to support Ganako’s kitchen construction, for which fund-raising is still underway.

 

To find out more or to contribute to either of these schools, please do click here  

The first week of December saw old friends visiting Esiteti Primary School near Tortilis Camp in Amboseli, Kenya.The founders of the A E Reimann Foundation, which is funded by SKAL International, visited the school to observe the progress of their classroom project and to visit and catch up with some of the 29 students they are funding through school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The double classroom is due for completion this week, with only the plastering now remaining. The donors were delighted with the progress and have now donated a further sum to add an additional classroom. These three classrooms will house approximately 120-150 students, helping Esiteti grow further.

Another exciting project on the books is an outdoor classroom, developing a small shamba or farm to help the students learn about agriculture while providing food for the school itself. More on this exciting development to come…

On 28th November Land & Life took part in #GivingTuesday, a global giving movement built by individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities around the world. We were supported in this initiative by our sponsors the Elewana Collection, Cheli & Peacock Safaris and Sky Safaris.

Across their offices in Kenya and Tanzania, staff brought in donations of books and food for our Wildlife Warrior Primary Schools as part of a company wide charity drive.

Staff also participated in a WEAR GREEN day, making individual donations to the Land & Life Foundation and its Wildlife Warrior Program. Great fun was had as employees came in and dropped off donations while comparing green outfits.

The drive was an enormous success, with a vast amount of food and books for primary schools collected. In the New Year, the food and books will be delivered to the Wildlife Warrior schools in Kenya and Tanzania, so watch this space for updates.

 

Funds donated will go into the pots for Kachiuru School in Kenya and Ganako School in Tanzania. We will engage with the school committees and staff and make a decision on how to disburse the funds. As above, keep an eye on us to find out where and how the money is spent and what benefits the schools will receive.

And remember, it’s never too late to join in and give, so if you’d like to follow suit and contribute to Land & Life’s great work, please click here to find out how you can make a contribution.

Ganako Primary School in Karatu, Tanzania has once again received a generous book donation. This donation came from  from Ken Kurzweil and Suzanne Sunday who visited The Manor Ngorongoro earlier in the year. Thanks to their generosity, Land & Life was able to purchase 260 text books and 10 teacher’s books for the school.

The books were delivered to Mr Lembris the Headteacher on Monday October 2nd, and handed out to students to have a look at. Everyone was delighted, and sent great appreciation to the donors.

Ganako, which had absolutely no books at all when we first visited in March, now has 10 or 20 copies of each subject for every year, from Standard 4 through to 7, and once the Ministry of Education completes the new syllabus and publishes the new books, we hope to complete the set and get books for the other years as well.

The school committee have asked for our help in building a kitchen. The existing structure is built of wooden planks and poles, and is extremely basic.

From this they try to feed nearly 500 people and it is both awkward, unhygienic, and costly in terms of use of firewood. On our recent visit, Mr Lembris took us to see a nearby school which has a clean brick built kitchen housing a huge fuel-efficient stove capable of catering for 600 students. We are in the process of obtaining quotes, and will be moving forward with the construction shortly. Once again the funds for this have come from Ken and Suzanne, and we are so excited to be helping the school with this exciting infrastructural development.