Recent guest Owen who stayed at Elewana Elephant Pepper Camp with his family in July visited our Local Primary school Ololomei and was touched by what he saw and what is still needed to help provide the children with a high quality educational facility.

 

He decided he wanted to do something himself to help the students in Kenya. His next step was to start raising funds through a bake sale and together with some friends from his high school he made it happen!

He reached out to the managers at Elephant Pepper Camp for photos and information about Ololomei School and used it to put together an information board about the school. His family and friends all help and on the day the bake sale was a huge success. Owen raised over $1000 dollars for the school!!!

 

Last year we managed to build a semi-permanent classroom for Ololomei School through generous donations from Elephant Pepper Camp guests. This year, with the help of remarkable people like Owen, we are working towards provision of a kitchen and dining area for the students.

A huge thank you from Elephant Pepper Camp, teachers and students of Ololomei Primary school and the Masai community to Owen, family and friends for making this happen!

Asante Sana ( Kiswahili) and Ashay ohleng (Masai)

 

Little Embiti Primary is located in Siana within Embiti village and lies about an hour and half from Elewana Sand River Mara. Land & Life’s relationship with the school started in the year 2016 when its population was a little under 100 students. The children are enrolled from early childhood level to grade 4 because the school lacks the infrastructural capacity to accommodate children beyond that level. Currently, it has 2 permanent and 1 semi-permanent classrooms.

We have been able to provide the school with numerous books & stationery and other in-kind donations as received from our generous donors and guests who stay at Sand River during their safari. We also hold termly conservation education sessions with the top students (grade 3 and 4) who make up the Wildlife Warrior club at the school. Last year, we were able to construct the first ever permanent toilet block, which was greatly appreciated by the school. This is a great start, but we know that a lot more remains to be done at Embiti.

Meetings with the school faculty and community representatives to determine the school’s top priority needs gave insight about their water challenge and which initiated our Water Project at the school. This entails providing the school with a new water tank, installation of a rainwater harvesting system and a pipe connection to the nearby community borehole.

We were slightly short of funds to complete this project until the Scopa family and friends (Mike, Caitlin, Shannon, Emma and Emily) visited and spent time with the Embiti children. They enjoyed their visit and on their return home they got in touch and made a donation to allow us to complete the water project.

Their generosity and support, which is so timely, doesn’t end at that. They are committed to providing funds for the construction of a new classroom at the school. Their daughter Emma and her best friend Emily are currently raising funds for the construction of a new classroom, which will enable the children to continue with their studies beyond grade 4.

An education is an opportunity to escape poverty, not only for themselves but for their families and villages. An education can be life-changing for these children and their families but only if they can continue to attend school – Emma & Emily

Read about their amazing experience at Embiti on their crowdfunding page:  A school for every kid and help support their goal by sharing their story and/or donating.

Kidogo Kidogo, hujaza kibaba! – “Little by Little, fills the cup – goes a long way”.

2018 has been a very interesting year for Kenya especially in terms of weather forecasting! While the rains brought relief to much of drought-stricken Kenya, to Land & Life it brought major delays in the execution of our construction projects. However, we can now smile as the third new classroom in Esiteti Primary School is now complete despite the multiple setbacks! This third new classroom sits 30 students comfortably, and brings  the school to up to a total of 9 classrooms. This frees up the ICT room for exclusive computer use, supporting our ongoing digital literacy drive across our school network. The construction of the new classroom successfully ended in mid-August. The students have since resumed school for the last term of the year, and everyone is delighted with the new classroom.

In addition to this, the school is also receiving a facelift in the academic block which will see 5 classroom floors completely redone, windows and doors fixed and refitted and the entire academic block repainted. This refurbishment will also see the school fitted with solar lighting to help the school run more efficiently. The refurbishment will be done in phases. We are now done with exterior works and the bulk of the work left is the redoing of floors, wiring the school and painting inside the classrooms.

For a very long time, much focus has been on the girl child and this has impacted on the boy child too. In the recent past, we have experienced declining numbers of boys in the upper Primary classes. Boy child retention in schools is becoming an issue, especially in the pastoral communities. In line with this, we received a donation to fund the construction of an 80-bed boys dormitory which will increase the retention levels for the students as well as facilitate improved performances as there is more time for the students to study as opposed to day schooling. Despite delays in this project also related to weather conditions and ongoing challenges, we finally have the detailed structural drawings for the dormitory and have engaged a reliable and well known contractor from the local community. This project will commence this month and we foresee having a dormitory by end of the year.

 

Our thanks go out to all the donors involved with these amazing developments at Esiteti this year – from Amaya Tandon, to Birgit Reimann and Constantine Panoussi of SKAl international Monaco – the de Vink family from the United States and Johann Auer from Europe –  David Hanes, Helene Hamilton, Clarke Rees, Suzanne Kent , and Joseph and Miriam Habib. Thanks to all of you, and to those many others who have also donated books, supplies and resources – without you the children of Amboseli would be considerably worse off.

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!