Going beyond the classroom with Camps International in Kenya – News
A group of wide-eyed student travelers from the Canadian International School of Abu Dhabi participate in projects related to primary schools located next to Tsavo East National Park
“Tumaini” in Kiswahili – one of the 10 most spoken languages in the world and the means of communication for more than 200 million people in East Africa and beyond – is synonymous with hope. And Mercy Joshua, or ‘Mama Mercy’ as she is affectionately known, is the beacon of hope in the impoverished hamlets of Ityni that fringe the arid Tsavo East National Park and perch on the slopes of the Marungu Hills near the city of Voi in the Taita. -Taveta County in the former southwestern coastal province of Kenya, between the capital Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa.
The Tumaini Women’s Group, a grassroots organization, was established in 2002 to empower local women who suffer from poverty, violence, illiteracy and gender-related health issues. With virtually no opportunities for formal employment, poor weather conditions for farming and lack of access to loans, the group offers support to women who wish to improve their finances through alternative income-generating activities, such as arts, crafts and ecotourism.
Mama has set up over 25 Tumaini Women’s Groups which provide a network of support for hundreds of women in the region surrounding Tsavo East National Park.
She started teaching the ladies to read and write and to do basic bookkeeping to budget their household expenses. She encouraged them to use their skills to create items such as beaded jewelry, baskets, clothing, wooden animal carvings and elephant dung paper that could be sold to earn money. and provide for their families.
His relentless campaign has ended underage marriage – below the age of 18 – in the local community.
Mum’s inspirational stories have traveled the world, thanks to Camps International, which was founded in 2002 by British national Stuart Rees Jones (see box), offering volunteer school expeditions to Diani, on the Kenyan coast, where traveling students can participate in projects related to local schools. In 2003, Stuart and Simon Englefield set up Camp Kenya Limited, as a subsidiary of Camps International, to help run Diani-based projects.
“We provide ongoing support to women’s groups in the Marungu region of Kenya, so that they can develop new skills, generate income and raise their status in the community. In 2019, more than 500 sheets of elephant dung paper and 600 wristbands were produced. The volunteers also helped the women of Tumaini to harvest 10 bags of cowpea and maize. The group of women benefited from 900 dollars (3,305 Dh), which was paid as an allowance from their traditional dance entertainment and more than 1,000 dollars (3,673 Dh) were generated from the sale of paper, works of art, bracelets and clothing made from elephant dung,” explains Simon.
Camps has amplified Mama’s story to students around the world by creating a community of teachers and its internal local project experts to design a bespoke program called Real World Studies (for students in Years VII and VIII) that uses the Design Thinking methodology and links to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to help students – from the age group of 12 – to become responsible travelers and work towards creating a “better world, sustainable and harmonious environment in which they want to live”.
Thousands of miles from scenic Camp Tsavo – one of three Camp Kenya locations, including Diani and Muhaka on the coast – Jaemie Rossiter, director of physical education and athletics at Canadian International School, Khalifa City A, Abu Dhabi, has taught the Real World Studies course for the past three years.
“So when a group of 23 students (grades 7-10) from IEC came to Camp Kenya for a week-long service-led expedition, they not only knew who Mama is, but also her job. in the region over the years. She had a profound impact on children even before they met her in person,” says an effervescent Rossiter, who handled a group of wide-eyed teenagers exposed to the wilds of East Africa. with admirable ease during the week-long expedition.
” It was a great experience. It allowed the students to understand the ongoing projects in Kenya. These are inextricably linked to the United Nations SDGs such as poverty eradication, gender equality and economic growth. Personally, there were several highlights for me such as the students’ interaction with local school children. Their encounter with Mama (Mercy) whom they studied and knew for a year before they even came here and danced with the Maasai on the safari at Tsavo East National Park and bonded with such a different culture. More importantly, they had the time of their lives.
CIS students were immersed in an ongoing Camp Tsavo project for Kale Primary School in Itinyi. Work priorities are decided by school stakeholders and focus on making bricks for future infrastructure, building a library to store books and preserve the longevity of books, painting classrooms to make it a better environment for learning. “Camps International has also helped construct ramps to classrooms for better accessibility, which will be extremely helpful as the Kenyan government wants determined students to access public schools in the future. Camps International is actively working with three schools in the area such as Kale, Marungu and Itinyi,” says Simon.
CIS students interviewed Elvis, a former Kale student, now a math teacher and a direct beneficiary of Camps International’s work in the region.
Rami Farhat, a CIS Grade 9 student and the direct lead of the expedition group, was touched by the “out of Africa experience”. “I had a great time, thanks to my teachers, who were of constant support to me. I was enchanted by the breathtaking views and the warm and hospitable people of Kenya. The young Canadian national of Lebanese descent also said he enjoyed his “mobile detox”.
Britain’s Daisy Clatworthy, also in Grade 9, loved the trip. “The place is great because I met the friendliest people ever and also the most beautiful scenery. I loved helping out everywhere and getting my hands on the funniest projects ever. Not only was it fun, but it also had a lasting impact on communities.
“All the staff at Camp Tsavo were amazing. I enjoyed the safari and the trek. It was amazing to see the amazing landscape and wildlife of beautiful Kenya.”
Chris Negus, CIS Expedition Leader and Head of Operations for Camps International, Middle East, covering the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries and Asia, weighed in on the role of the UK-based organization United.
“I started leading school expeditions for Camps International UK in 2016, my first expedition was to Tanzania over a four week period during school holidays. Since then I have led several expeditions with schools in the United Arab Emirates united in Kenya, Borneo, Tanzania and Cambodia,” he said.
Chris, a British national, who swapped a lucrative job to work with Camps International, is full of praise for ‘social enterprise’. “I understand its profound impact on local communities and the effects it has had on students touch me. The past two years have been challenging for students, and immersive journeys. Our goal is to find a perfect way to remedy this and instill positive characteristics that develop their social skills.
The writer visited Camp Kenya at the invitation of Camps International, Middle East