Saturday, March 29, 2014

Safari Day!

This morning we left the Honey Badger Lodge at 8am to head to Kenya for our safari expedition. We had an uneventful ride to the border. When we arrived, we filled out our necessary paperwork and soon discovered that our ride past the border hadn't arrived. Thankfully, the wonderful Honey Badger drivers and Jeremiah came up with an alternative plan. They received temporary visas for the day and drove us to the Amboseli gates.

We arrived at the park around 1:30 and were greeted by some very eager Maasai merchants. Needless to say, many of you reading this blog will be receiving some beautiful, hand-crafted gifts :) 

The drivers from the Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge arrived at the gates and we said goodbye to our trusted and witty drivers from Honey Badger-George, Henry and Peter. We are so grateful for their patience this past week. They were always very courteous and allowed us to pick their minds as we tried to grasp the complex Tanzanian culture. 

We popped the roof open as we made our way to the lodge. They were many animal sightings on the way in. We were greeted at the front entrance with cooled, scented wash cloths and passion fruit juice. Not exactly "roughing it" :) While waiting for the group, we witnessed a monkey sneak some biscotti from the cafe area. He was promptly chased away by one of the Maasai warriors with a palm branch-only in Africa!

The safari was amazing. We saw zebras, elephants, water buffalo, many different bird species, hyena, baboons, cheetahs, and several other unidentifiable animals. The savanna is overlooked by Mount Kilimanjaro  which arose from the clouds as the evening progressed. We ended the night with a wonderful dinner. 

This has been an amazing and unforgettable experience. I believe everyone's goal was to make a difference in the lives of the African people, but we head back with some very enriching memories that have changed each one of us for the better. Thanks to everyone for your donations, emails, encouraging words, and unfaltering support. We'll be stateside soon! 


Last day

Friday we set out early for a safari and caught the sunrise over the Seringeti. Mt. Kilmanjaro was not not the least bit shy, it was in full view. We took in the Beauty of the Seringeti where we saw many animals, only simba was shy. Next we visited the Masai village. We were greeted with a song and dance. The medicine man educated us on the healing roots and twigs. The Masai women are responsible for building the huts which are made out of elephant twig, ashes, and dung. They even invited us inside their hut to get the full experience. We than headed back to Nairobi to catch our flight home.
We have realized that our experience was both heart warming and heart breaking. I think I speak for all of us when I say we made many new friendships.

- Amanda Strong

sad to leave

We are in Brussels now. Missing families....see you soon. We'll post more when we return.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tanzania 2014 - Kilimanjaro-Caves- Waterfall

Hello everyone!
We are well into our journey which I'm sure after reading you have realized has been filled with many experiences. Some have made us laugh, some have opened our eyes, some have even made us cry.

Today we experienced the beauty of nature in Tanzania. We were blessed to see the Kilmanjaro base camp (National Park) where many directions are given to help people make the most of their climb to the top of Kilamanjaro. We were excited to hear that 2 of our drivers who have been incredible have actually climbed to the top. We also were blessed with the joy of "flush" toilets, our first outside of the hotel in many days; although we all have become adept at squatting!!!!! We also learned that it takes at least 5-6 days to climb and return from the summit of Kilimanjaro,

We then journeyed to Chagga caves where we learned the history of how the Chagga and Massai people lived in discord among the caves until 1961, when the tribes of Tanicka and Zanzibar joined together to call themselves the country of Tanzania,

The most rewarding experience for most of us was the climb down to Ndoro waterfall. which was beautiful to see, again reminding us of the beauty of nature. For some of us, however this trek also reminded us how much we need each other. The journey was muddy and almost dangerous at times and yet we made it with the help of each other. Something I think we all have been aware throughout our journey, but was most clearly brought home to me today as we actually physically had to help each other climb steps and negotiate muddy terrain. I, personally, was reminded of how none of us can exist in life alone without each other's help and I am thoroughly grateful how the experiences today affirmed that for me and I hope for all of us! What a great day! Thanks to all!

Linda Radder

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday March 25th 2014

Another fabulous day! It rained as usual last night but the morning was gorgeous. After breakfast we started on our journey to the Songoro primary school found quite a ways up the Meru Mountain. It was quite the bumpy ride up the very narrow steep mountainside. The view was breathtaking. Upon arrival the 620 children were waiting patiently. Although it poured for about 20 minutes, we were greeted by them with song. Some songs were in Swahili some were in English. We all were very impressed when they sang in English as English is considered a subject. We then handed out toys, gave out shoes and candy. The children were so excited. I think I speak for everyone when I say it's sad that our time with the children has come to an end in this trip as they have made our trip so heart wrenching and rewarding. The night sky is upon us and we are again exhausted physically and emotionally ( in a good way). We look forward to another adventure tomorrow at the Ndeoro waterfall. Talk to you all soon! Usiku mwema! (Goodnight in Swahili) 

Anne Kraus

Monday, March 24, 2014

Coffee Plantation

Today we had our first telaxing day. We visited a coffee plantation today! We were 1400 meters above sea level where it was cool and lush. They started by taking our coffee orders and then gave us a tour and a step by step demonstration of how the coffee is processed. Our guide roasted our beans over an open fire in an old kettle. It was the best coffee I've ever tasted! They they fed us a delicious african lunch. We then did some shopping and saw some beautiful Tinga Tinga style paintings. After diner we had members of the local tribe play drums and dance. They eventually pulled all of us out on the stage. It was amazing and so fun!  We are all having such a tremendous learning experience. Tomorrow we head over to a school to provide care and friendship for the students. We miss you all and can't wait to see you.

Cindi Griffin

Sunday, March 23, 2014

St. Francis of Asissi Orphanage for the Disabled

Today we traveled to the St. Francis orphanage to visit with the children and provide medical services. The orphanage is home to over 200 children, ages 4 through 18. It is also a day school for about 75 children.  Many of the children have a physical or mental disability, or are orphaned.  Some of the children are albinos who are at the orphanage because of the practice of mutilating the children by cutting off the arms or legs for use in witchcraft.  The orphanage provides a safe haven for them.

When we arrived, the children assembled and greeted us with songs.  The sweet sounds of their voices was absolutely beautiful.  We brought with us several large duffle bags of toys and school supplies to distribute to the children.  It was like Christmas time!  The children each received several toys or books and bartered between themselves to make trades!

One thing that was apparent to al of us was how well the children behaved.  The older children watched out for the younger children, helping them with their toys.  A particularly touching scene was watching an interaction between two of the girls, one who was blind.  Her friend described for her the stuffed animal she had received as her gift.  The kindness was overwheliming.  

The older children enjoyed playing a game of soccer (for over two hours) with Jeremiah and our drivers.  The younger children delighted in playing games with us, jumping rope, reading books and teaching us Swahili.  

What we recognized today is that we are all more alike than we are different.  Where we come from, the color of our skin or the language that we speak doesn't really matter when you realize that we are all interconnected by our humanness.  The children played clapping games, soccer, jumped rope, sang songs and even did the chicken dance -- we could have been watching children on a playground in the U.S.  And, despite the languge barrier, everyone understands a smile, gentle touch and loving kindness - that is a universal language!

The children sang a goodbye song to us as we were getting ready to leave.  As we drove down the driveway, the children ran to the fence to wave a final good bye.  We will never forget the children of St. Francis and will forever be changed by our interactions with them.  In the end, it is they who gave us a wonderful gift.

Laura Grover