Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Monday, May 25, 2009

Kate’s Take On Kidong – Part 2

Following hot on the heels of Part 1, Kate, undertaking our Wildlife Community Internship, fills us in on the what else has been happening in Kidong:

"The ‘Tourism Team’ were responsible for helping the community put together a 15 minute presentation to be shown to tourists visiting the centre and also for helping develop an information brochure that tourists can take away with them after their visit.

Both of our teams were jointly responsible for educating the community on the uses of the Vetiver grass – a veritable miracle plant which has a myriad of uses including aiding soil and water conservation, vital concerns in this area of low rainfall and poor soil quality. We planned a workshop with the community and our parting gift was to plant 100 of the plants at the centre. The strain that we planted is infertile but is easily cultivated by splitting mature plants and transplanting them. In this way the whole community will be able to benefit from the plants we planted at the cultural centre if they choose to, without running the risk of it becoming invasive.

We were incredibly busy over the course of our four days in Kidong – our first couple of mornings were spent with the community gathering the information we needed to produce the various marketing items and working to develop the soaps. A logo was decided upon and after much lively debate it was decided that the tourists would love ‘rustic’ soaps, handcut in wood moulds and wrapped in…..wait for it…..elephant dung paper!!! What better way to make a positive use out of the elephants that can cause so many problems in the local area and what a great marketing story!
It was wonderful spending time with the community and finding out more about their hopes, dreams and the challenges they face. They were all so welcoming and open and added immeasurably to our experience of Kenya. In addition to which we spent some time discovering the local area including the beautiful Lake Challa and the Njoro Springs fed by meltwater from Mount Kilimajaro – SO cold but I hadn’t felt so refreshed since our arrival in Kenya! Also the mountain itself which was very shy during our stay but did reveal itself to us from behind the cloud on a couple of occasions – stunning.

Finally it was time to head back to a world without red dust and askaris escorting you to the loo in the night with bow and arrows! I was sad to be leaving but very proud of what we had achieved in the short space of time we were there and touched by the welcome we received from everyone we met. Most of all, I hope to return soon and see what progress has been made by the community – and hopefully to buy a range of local soaps all artfully wrapped in elephant dung paper! Any family and friends reading this – guess what presents you can look forward to!!!

A massive thank you to Sara and the rest of the staff who do an awesome job organising an incredible experience and of course to the community of Kidong."