I shared my experiences with family and friends and members of Skål International. Skål International Monaco, as well as family and Friends, got us started… We got contact with Kenya NGO which had an administration fee of 15%, which was my personal contribution, as I wanted every dollar raised to go to the project itself.
Fortunately for us, shortly afterwards the NGO was taken over by ‘Elewana’, an organisation owning 16 Up Market Tourist Lodges in Kenya and Tanzania. And the NGO became: ‘Land and Life Foundation’. All administration costs of the 2 NGO offices and their staff are paid by ‘Elewana’. Hannah Wood heads the 2 offices and all projects in both countries. The Nairobi office is headed by Carole. We are in regular contact with both. Currently our biggest donor by far is a Danish Foundation. The large contributions have funded the school buildings and much more.
Last 2 visits were on Nov 1018 and Aug 2019. On each visit we have a meeting with ‘Land and Life’ at the Nairobi office. We go through the accounts for each project, the donation according to estimate, the money spent upon completion – in case of a small surplus or deficit we have so far been able to even it out with a similar project.
We have built 4 classrooms and 1 outdoor classroom all considered separate projects. We examine the budget for students, and their quarterly results. We are beginning to see a trend with the Wildlife Warrior Students for whom we support 75% of school fees for last year in primary school and 4 years in secondary boarding school. The students are the top students in year 7 from Esiteti primary school in Amboseli. They all struggle with English and maths. We have discussed it with the individual students and their parents. The students lack the foundation in both subjects. Therefore, our future donations should be directed at elevating the standard of teaching and teachers working conditions as well as increasing student support.
In Amboseli we visit the school and the village 1 day to see the projects for ourselves and discuss related issues. We stay in the area for 4 or 5 days to have time to have small meetings with the head of the school, her deputy, and head of the school council and of the village council, plus our representative of the village. We have also met local government representatives where I have, without success so far, pushed to have financial support not only for headmistress salary plus 2 teachers, but for more teachers. The 8 remaining teachers are paid by revenue from school fees. The average is 85 dollars a month (minimum for a teacher is 200 dollars a month, a few rural schools are paying up to 300 dollars a month). ‘Land and Life’ do not get involved with teacher salaries, so we have to find another way, which we hope to explore in 2020 as a start. A school of this size should have another 9 teachers to avoid classes with 60 – 70 students. How can one teacher be able to teach so many? The school now have a couple of hundred students more than 4 years ago and still the same number of teachers!
On our last visit we started to discuss future cooperation with the manager in charge of sustainability and all planting within the property where we stayed. He is also involved sustainable village projects run by that property. He is happy to help us by advice and keeping an eye on our future environmental village and school projects. He is organising 1000 trees for us if we want to go ahead with gradual planting starting ASAP.
Climate change is rapidly changing life for the Maasai, the cattle people. A generation ago, the community had double or more cattle and half the population of today. They could live quite well. Now frequent draughts like September 2017 kills their precious animals. They have had to increase their goat herds. They understand that goats eat plants with roots and when the rain comes less plants will grow for animal feed. Education is paramount for the young to find jobs within Tourism in the area or away in the cities and without jobs they will eventually die. It is overwhelming and confusing for many that the lifestyle of their fathers and many generations before them is no longer sustainable in its present form. Supplements from Tourism is not enough – more is needed. We hope modern technology and investments will enable this rich culture to survive.
During our last visit we found some areas in the school that needed attention and we are happy to say that we have now received reports and photos to show from different sources that most have been addressed and rectified one will be ok soon. All with no extra cost to us!
We plan to return early next year and of course again in Dec 2020 when hopefully the first 4 students from Esiteti Primary School graduate from Secondary School – we need to be there to make sure they get started with further education that hopefully will lead to a job they will be good at and happy with, so that all the effort by the parents and the student has not been in vain. We know their dream for the future… We invited them to come with us the last day of the Mombasa Skål International World Congress in 2018 where they participated in a ‘Land and Life’ presentation by Hannah Wood, and the next day we met them and the 2 adults traveling with them, when they returned from their glass-bottom boat trip to the reef. None of them had never seen the sea nor creatures living in the sea. Their enthusiasm and description of what they had just experienced was for us the highlight of our trip! Definitely a Sustainable Philanthropic Tourism experience!
(Funds raised during the 2019 exceeding US$ 100,000)
Inside our 3-room village hut made for us by 167 Massai Women over 3 months as we are part of their family because we visit them every year.