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Elephants, Giraffes, and Hippos–Oh my! I think we’re in Kenya…

The group from Crawfordsville United Methodist arrived in Kenya excited and eager to explore. We checked into our tented camps nestled deep within the hustle and bustle of Nairobi and prepared for the adventure this group was about to embark on. After a night of much needed rest from the long journey, we headed to an elephant orphanage and the giraffe center to learn about conservation efforts. Next, we visited Kazuri Beads, which The Village Experience has been carrying from the day they opened their doors in 2008. We learned how the beautiful jewelry is made and then bought lots to take home. From there we went to Amani Ya Juu women’s reconciliation and fair trade project to learn the stories of women from over 12 war-torn countries working together to rebuild their lives. We enjoyed a wonderful meal in the their income-generating restaurant and shopped ’til we dropped in their fair trade retail shop.

The next day, we visited the Rift Valley Academy for a tour of this gigantic international boarding school – second only to a certain school in the Philippines. From there we headed to Lake Naivasha for a boat ride with the hippos. Our volunteers spotted 4 large families of hippos and saw wildebeests, buffalo, antelope, and more on the shores of the lake. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch and learned about the new tented camps being built here by our partners at The Lake Nakuru Lodge. We then proceeded to check into our “home” for the next 5 nights – the Milele Resort in Nakuru run by the Presbyterian Church. After checking in, we headed to the “Peace Murals” lining the main road into Lake Nakuru National Park. We talked about the post-election violence and the efforts to reconcile. After that it was time to chase monkeys at the main gate and then meet Mr. Muya at Summit for an introduction to our volunteer project.

Day three began with Kelly, Beth, and Danson running around like crazy picking up paint, soccer balls, school supplies, porridge and biscuits before getting the group and driving up to the IDP Camp. The group explored the former IDP Camp with the community and had a blast visiting their homes, hearing their stories, playing soccer, handing out supplies, and bonding with the families. After this, we hiked over to the new medical center to begin our big project – painting the entire clinic! We mixed paint, laid down rice bags as tarps, filled in cracks, cleaned the site, and painted the entire undercoat in just a few hours. We enjoyed a picnic lunch and time with the kids before departing back to the hotel. It was a long, but fruitful day. The members of the medical center committee couldn’t believe how fast the group had worked. We almost had to pull Mark and Evan out of the clinic to get them to stop working!

Tomorrow we’ll begin painting the main coat – who knows what interesting developments will unfold as we continue our journey…