This year, we held the Annual Wildlife Warrior Retreat in the coastal shores of Kenya, Mombasa. Yes, it was as exciting as it sounds! We gathered together a group of 40 scholars and 10 patrons from our six supported schools. In attendance also, was one member of staff from the Elewana Collection, one from Cheli & Peacock Safaris and two of us from the Land & Life Foundation team.
Our adventure began on the 1st of December when all the scholars left their homes around Kenya to travel to Nairobi to spend the night together before embarking on the journey to Mombasa. The group was hosted at the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya campus in Langata, long time friends of Land & Life. The day was quite tricky to manage, as weather conditions in the wider part of the country were quite dodgy! Finally however all scholars and patrons arrived safely at the campus before dark. On the same day, Steve from Land & Life travelled to Mombasa as an advance party, to ensure the grounds were set for the rest of the team when they arrive on the following day. On the first night, the students got a warm reception from the team in Nairobi and a warm meal helped them settle in better in preparation for an early morning trip to Mombasa the following day.
On the second day, the scholars left the campus for the train station at 5am. While trains may routine for many people reading this, for these children it was an experience of a lifetime! The famous Madaraka Express train was commissioned a few years ago marking a transformation to a newer faster generation of trains. Since then, many Kenyans anticipate boarding the train one day. For these students, it was no different as the excitement on their faces told this tale. The trip to Mombasa through beautiful Kenyan countryside lasted six hours and after this, they were safe and sound in the Wildlife clubs of Kenya, Mombasa Campus by 4.00PM.
Upon arrival, the scholars were served to some snacks to cool off and rejuvenate before heading out for a relaxed evening at the beach. Initially, while at the beach, everyone was calm and collected wondering how this large mass of water exists – for most if was thier first time seeing the sea However, in no time, the heat got unbearable and the scholars together with their patrons took a dip fully-clothed, as they enjoyed the beauty that nature has to offer.After two hours of enjoying the coastal waters, it was time to have dinner and the day was over.
Tuesday morning, was very hot. The Land & Life team took the lead in the first session focusing on oceans and the marine world, a topic in the new Wildlife Warrior Program curriculum. Additionally, we had the pleasure of hosting two members of the Local Ocean Trust from Watamu and they took over the second session of the day. As specialists in marine conservation, the Local Ocean trust team, under the guidance of Nevil, took the children through a session on turtle conservation.
In the afternoon, the Wildlife Warriors had a chance to visit Haller Park. The choice to visit this site was entirely based on the history of the park as a reclaimed site. The visit aimed at showcasing how possible it is to reclaim land and establish a whole new ecosystem where life was previously considered non-existent. The warriors enjoyed up-close views of the diverse animal species including the crocodile, Hippopotamus, different snakes, and fish species with a great coincidence to witness their feeding too. After this trip the evening was wound down with relaxation time for the warriors.
On the fourth and last day in Mombasa, the students woke up to a role play session guided by the Land & Life team. The Warriors, in groups, presented short plays on how they best understood the issues they had learnt concerning the conservation of marine life. After this session, they also got an opportunity to learn from the hosts, Wildlife Clubs of Kenya, who gave a talk on blue economy.
The afternoon session was quite enjoyable as the warriors got to game drive in the sea! We hired two glass bottom boats and went to the marine park where they were able to see different species of fish and corals. The trip was memorable to the young wildlife warriors as all of them but a few admitted to never havign been out on the ocean before. This was a great eye opener to them especially on the aspects of marine ecosystems and the need to conserve marine life.
When they came back to the campus, we held a closing ceremony with the outgoing candidates cutting cake to mark the end of their six year journey with us and the beginning of a new life ahead of them.
Thursday was a very early morning for the entire team as we were on the rush to catch the morning train once again. This time round the warriors were more relaxed as they knew what is expected of them and how the train trip already is. Some of the members alighted on earlier stations that led them home directly while four schools came back to Nairobi. On Friday morning, all the warriors from the four schools left the wildlife clubs of Kenya, Nairobi campus for their different destinations. The last team arrived home on Saturday the 7th of December 2019 marking the end of a successful retreat once more.