Our contribution to local communities
Benefiting local communities is one of our fundamental principles and we hope it will be a factor in your choosing to come on holiday with us. We do this both through our trading practices and direct donations. Charity is not enough though, nor is it sustainable, so use of local staff, purchase of local foodstuffs and patronising locally owned hotels, campsites and facilities are completely standard - there are no woolly "whenever possible" caveats on our safaris. But we do make considerable financial donations and assist in other direct ways. Here are some of them ...
Maasai women's self-help projectOne of our destinations in Kenya is the tiny village of Maji Moto in the Loita Hills. Here, headteacher Hellen Nkuraiya, has initiated a project for the local Maasai women which we support - this in her own words is what it's about:
"Our project name is ENKITENGLEPA, meaning a cow which belongs to all of us. Enkitenglepa has 20 members most of them being single mothers (widowers). Our project is empowering women economically through establishment of income generating activities eg beadwork, buying and selling cows, selling milk, Maasai attires/souvenirs etc to make them self reliant or economically independent. Our project is also advocating for girl child education and we have established a rescue village for both widowers and the young girls escaping from early marriages and female genital mutilation".
Since 2007 IntoAfrica has donated $9,180 and you can visit the Enkitenglepa project on our Kenya Explorer and Kenya Insights safaris.
After hearing a BBC Radio 4 programme about SolarAid’s efforts to distribute lighting in East Africa, I thought we could help. SolarAid provide quality, long lasting solar lighting which they hope will replace the burning of paraffin & kerosene – an expensive, wasteful, hazardous and CO2 producing way of lighting millions of off-grid African homes.
So we bought $3,000 worth of lights and distributed them to the villages and schools we pass through on our safaris. From our perspective it ticks the “assisting local communities” box, and does so in a way that a significant number of people share the benefits, and it lets our guests see where some of their dollars go. Each light is also a little ambassador for SolarAid’s huge goal of eradicating the kerosene lamp from Africa and that also chimes nicely with most of our guests’ attitudes.
The Alton-Maasai Project aims to directly benefit the women and children of the Maasai district of Oldanyati in southern Kenya. In December 2016 we donated $375 to their school maintenance and development fund.
At Esilalei Maasai village in the Manyara/Tarangire wildlife corridor, nursery class was always under the big tree. In 2008 we agreed with the elders to build, equip and provide the teacher for a nursery school building. In 2010 we added another classroom and teacher. We also added a toilet block to El Manyatta school, which is open for visits in term time and features on our Tanzania Explorer itinerary. Our financial contribution to the schools' construction and maintenance totalled US $13,020. Since 2014 we've changed our safari itinerary and no longer support this school.
In Kenya & Tanzania government schools are tragically under-resourced. In partnership with Asante Africa (see below) we have built a nursery school and added classrooms and desks to a primary school in Mto Wa Mbu. We carved our name on the desks (something I used to do when much younger!)
The new IntoAfrica desks in Maji Moto Entikenglepa school classroom with Hellen Nkuraiya the Head Teacher. We provided $1,700 for a water supply to the new dormitory, showers, and sponsorship of 2 girls. You can visit this school on our Kenya Explorer and Insights safaris.
Asante Africa Foundation
After travelling on one of our safaris in 2010, Erna Grasz went back to the States and formed a foundation to provide assistance for some of the local communities we visit and support. Here is the Migungani nursery school they built in Mto Wa Mbu, Tanzania. We have also co-operated in Maji Moto Kenya on the building of another school. Since then they have mushroomed into a significant organisation operating accross Kenya and Tanzania and focussing on girl empowerment and leadership skills. You can see more about their work on their own website: www.asanteafrica.org
Rather than leave cash, we ask teachers to provide a list of required texts and then we buy and deliver these ourselves. Our contributions are roughly equivalent to $5 per person per visit. Also many of our guests fill extra space in their bags with pens, exercise books and odd bits of school equipment. This is always greatly appreciated on school visits.
School and college fees
When we started our treks and safaris we donated money to heads of schools. Sadly we discovered that this money was not always used as we thought. Since then we've paid school fees for individual children, direct to the school's bank account or bursars. We have no egalitarian system (nor the time) for choosing these kids from thousands of deserving cases but just select from the areas and villages where we have contacts. Sponsorship support since 2006 has totalled $7,420.
School Letter Exchange
IntoAfrica facilitates exchange of letters written by schoolchildren at the remote Ole Pariata Primary in Kenya with Greenhills Primary in Sheffield - by physically carrying the bundles of letters as there's no other reliable way! Here the head and a parent governor review the latest batch. This not only helps children's understanding of different cultures in a very direct way but reveals fascinating insights into their two very different lives and perceptions.
Nadupoi was one of the Maasai girls we sponsored in Maji Moto (Enkare Nairowa), Kenya. I just put this pic in because she asked me, so that when she goes to Narok at end of term she'll be able to browse on the Post Office computer and see herself on the web!
Cattle dip delivery
Ensuring that everyone in a community benefits from our visits is not easy. One way we found to do this was buying cattle dip - Tratix in fact. All Maasai ultimately rely on cows so keeping them healthy has a trickle down effect for everyone. Here the elders from Olanganaiyo in Kenya (one of the places on our Kenya Explorer itinerary) receive the chemicals. Each year we provided $200 worth - enough for over 1,000 animals.
Arusha Children's Trust
An NGO set up in 1999 to support underprivileged children in Rift Valley region of Tanzania. They have built a community centre near Arusha where they run workshops on preservation of traditional cultures and wildlife conservation, an outreach health clinic and a kindergarten school for 4-6 year olds. Funds are needed for teacher salaries, equipment and educational materials and a hot porridge breakfast each day for the kids. We liked their ethos and now donate $500 every year. Our clients can arrange to visit the project if they wish. Find out more at their website: www.arushachildrenstrust.org
Streetkids International e.V
We were contacted by this German NGO seeking help. They work in Dar Es Salaam to provide homes for abandoned children. We had no links with them but their work appealed to us and seemed to benefit a very worthy section of Tanzanian society. We made a one-off donation of US $600 for one of their house projects.
Tourism Concern's Porters' Rights Guidelines
We run treks and safaris on Kilimanjaro, Mt Meru and Mt Kenya and are proud of the way we treat the porters and local staff we employ. We comply wherever local social and economic conditions allow with the code of practice which you can read in full here.
Our fly trap project
In the rainy seasons, grazing cows return and the flies come with them, often plaguing the homesteads and contributing to the spread of diseases. Our fly trap project is not really anything to do with our treks and safaris or cultural visits, but a description of my experimental efforts at helping to reduce the problem.
Our trips can also include visits to locally organised activities. There are detailed descriptions here:
- Tanzania - Mto Wa Mbu people & cultural activities
- Tanzania - Ilkidin'ga Wa-Arusha people & cultural activities
- Tanzania - Longido Maasai people & cultural activities
- Kilimanjaro - Marangu Wachagga people & cultural activities
- Kenya - Kikuyu village cultural activities & homestays
- Kenya - Olanganaiyo Maasai village, people and culture