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

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Results of the Adventure

Sara gives us the latest news from Kidong:

Q: What do soap, elephant dung, pancakes, and interesting facts about the Kamba tribe have in common?
A: Read on and find out…

I stepped off the bus from Taveta this afternoon with a huge smile on my face, not because I was able to stretch my legs after long journey, but because I was holding a box of aloe-vera soaps produced and packaged entirely by the community of Kidong! One of the key objectives of our visit to Kidong was to assist the community with the final stages of producing and packaging natural soaps to sell to tourists in Kenya – and we did it!

The community of Kidong learnt how to make basic soap over a year ago; however, it has not been until recently that with the assistance of GVI volunteers the community has been able to develop this recipe into a product which could be marketed to tourists. The soaps are made from start to finish by the community of Kidong and are packaged using natural materials including sisal fibre and recycled paper made from elephant dung for labels. Seeing the looks of surprised happiness on the faces of some of the older men in Kidong as they wrapped soap with sisal string, tied beads on and stamped recycled paper with their own stamp was incredible.

The rationale behind producing soaps which can be sold to tourists is that by selling soaps to a higher end market, the Kidong community group of ex-poachers can generate sustainable incomes and thus improve their standards of living. Moreover, the community is will continue to make soaps for local markets as well which ensures that they are not solely dependant upon the tourist market.

The other main objective of our trip was to continue to assist the community with the development of their Culture Centre which is going to be a community based eco-tourism project. We had a very successful week teaching the community how to cook pancakes with honey caramel sauce, guacamole, salsa and other dishes for tourists. After a lot of giggles from the community about the food we told them that tourists would like to eat we managed to discover some talented chefs in Kidong. The pancakes with honey caramel sauce were an absolute winner and with some more hard work the community should be serving them up to tourists by the end of the year!

The Real Answer to the Question: All of these things made a significant contribution to the very positive results of our trip to the village of Kidong for the first Satellite Camp trip of this expedition!