Do you ever play the “which famous people would you invite to your dinner party” game? It’s my favourite car game and I often revisit my list promoting and demoting guests depending on mood. However, there is one constant who never gets thrown off my table and his name is David Attenborough. Put simply, I could never grow tired of listening to him. “There’s an abundance of discovery in Africa,” he says, “The day I grow tired of the continent is the day I grow tired of life.”
This January, a group of Peachy people took the trip to the Maasai Mara in Kenya to work on our Peach Foundation project, Herds for Growth. It was my first time visiting the region and Sir David is right – Africa is magical.
Here’s a roundup of my top five highlights of the trip.
1. Herds for Growth Project
In 2017, we set out to raise enough money to buy a herd of cows for the Enonkishu Community in the Maasai Mara, to encourage better land management and, in turn, a more stable ecosystem. In September 2017, after months of fundraising, a team of us travelled out to Kenya to buy and deliver the herd to Enonkishu. In January of this year we visited our growing herd (they have been busy) and bought a further 25 heifers and 3 bulls (more baby-booming to follow).
It was wonderful to see the fruits of our fundraising and to hear from the community first-hand, about the good it was doing both in terms of the land, wildlife preservation and revenue. Mankind, accurately, has a bad reputation for causing destruction to the natural world but we also protect many creatures and plants. We saw this in action at the Enonkishu Conservancy and it served as a motivational reminder of the good we can achieve together as a global community.
2. The Wildlife
The Mara exceeded my wildest animal dreams. On our trip we were fortunate enough to go on several game drives – proper real-life Dynasties – spotting zebra, giraffe, antelope, buffalo, cheetah, hippo, birds of every colour, and even sleeping lionesses. We enjoyed coffee out of camping mugs on the Plains, stood in the middle of the most majestic landscape peppered with Acacia trees, just listening to the silence and watching the sun rise over the mountains. It was the most humbling experience to be stood amongst the wildlife which stays steadily simple and sane despite what’s happening around it.
3. The People
I am a tactile person and often have to remind myself that I live in England before launching into a greeting. Imagine my delight when we visited a small school in a neighbouring village and were met with the warmest of welcomes! The children were fascinated by my hair (blonde) and skin (freckly and so pale you need sunglasses) and we spent a very happy time trying to hold a conversation but mostly laughing.
Many of these children are growing up in a very different world to a lot of children here at home. With Kenya’s beauty and abundant wildlife comes booming tourism and, in some places, great wealth. But there is also great poverty. Almost 30 per cent of Kenyans live on less than £1 a day, which the World Bank classifies as extreme poverty. However, there is hope – schools, libraries, water projects, toilets and kitchens are all being built with the support of charities and the community and, thankfully, things are changing. The friendliness, spirit and energy of the people I met on this trip, sometimes in the face of such adversity, is something I will never forget.
I couldn’t complete a blog without mention of the modest warthog – one of my favourite animals of the trip. Not the most glamorous choice, I admit, but the way the pigs move (really quite fast for something so stocky with an upright tail in the air like an aerial), and graze (on their front knees while softly grunting) won them a place in my heart. I should also mention that their babies look like they have been zapped with a “honey, I shrunk the kids” laser gun – very cute.
5. The Dawa
The best sundowner cocktail ever. Dawa means medicine in Swahili, so you can drink this cocktail also assuming it has curative properties…
INGREDIENTS FOR ONE COCKTAIL
o 50 ml vodka
o 1 lime cut into cubes
o Crushed ice
o Honey-coated stir stick (garnish)
o Squeeze limes into a short tumbler glass
o Add crushed ice and then pour in the vodka
o Twist a Dawa or honey stick into honey and add to the drink
o Muddle limes with Dawa or honey stick
The Dawa cocktail is rivalled by Tusker beer as the most beloved beverage in Kenya but don’t make me choose, I’ll have both please.
For more information and donation details on our Peach Foundation and Herds for Growth project, please visit www.makinglifepeachy.com/foundation/