Newsletter, July, 2019

I have recently arrived back from a most remarkable two-week trip and one of the most successful Discovery Trips we have had.

Global Angels Discovery Trips

Each year we host several Discovery Trips to our Tsavo Project in Kenya. The aim is to provide an opportunity for individuals and groups who want to make a difference, to join us for a life changing week. These volunteer Angels work alongside us on our projects, helping us build, paint, feed chickens, make bricks, plant seeds, makes fences, dig trenches or water pans and whatever else our team are doing. They meet the locals in their homes, help with school feeding programmes, and play football with local children. In the evening we share our impactful experiences before dinner and then chill to a backdrop of wild animals drinking from a water hole directly in front of us at the game reserve where we stay.

For the first week, Ian Mitchell, Global Angels Advisory Board member and CEO of BGI Group, joined me to work on strategy and leadership training of our local Kenyan team. Tracy Williams, Advisory Board member and co-founder of Impact Data Solutions joined us the last half of the week, with her daughter Rhianna and 11 year-old son, Harrison. The work is growing quickly and we have a young team, so Ian and Tracy’s input and experience were especially timely and valuable.

The second week, leadership coach and Advisory Board member, Colin Smith (The Listener), joined us with a team of five volunteers from the Robert Walters Group, flying in from London, Paris, New York and the Philippines. Global Angels Ambassador and photographer, Afshin Feiz, also joined us for the week.
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Overcoming the Challenges of Too Little and Too Much Water

So much in this valley revolves around water – the area being semi-arid, rainfall only falling a few weeks a year, and most families not having the ability to collect and store rain water. Many women and children walk 10-15 km (6-9 miles) every day to collect drinking water from open-air water pans shared with animals.
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A very impactful experience for our volunteers was to fill 20 litre water cans from the nearest community water pan in the valley and attempt to carry them the 7km back to the Global Angels farm. We were all astounded at the weight of each can as we walked all the way through the farmland and past villager’s homes. Although we all made it back, not one of us were able to carry the full amount of water we started with on our walk. Our respect for the women and children doing this every day grew enormously, along with our empathy and determination to bring further water provision to this community.

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We gave the Angel volunteers a Challenge, hoping their collective insight and innovative ideas would provide the solution and inspiration for our water issues. We have terraced most of our 20 acres as part of making the farm sustainable and restoring degraded land and soil using permaculture principles. After each heavy rain we need to check if our trenches and swales worked efficiently or if we needed to make changes. The last rains left large mounds of silt too close to the edges of our shade houses causing some damage, and the water flow from our new road down to our farm centre needed diverting to our smaller water pan. The water pan wasn’t deep enough to cope with a large flow of water so our building would be in danger
Their ideas flowed and we had our solution – so we hired 15 local women and young men and immediately began to dig the water pan to a 3 metre (10 feet) depth with a plan to build new trenches – a mammoth job and the Angel volunteers began digging too. Again, respect for the hard work of the locals grew – digging such hard ground in the heat of the day is hugely challenging. What a team!
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Bondeni Preschool -Malnutrition and a Paint Job

Tracy is the inspiration behind our school-feeding programme in the local Bondeni Preschool, after discovering that 40% of the children in the area had mild to medium malnutrition. Tracy, her family and the Robert Walters volunteers worked very hard to paint the inner preschool walls. They had also brought many gifts and learning tools for the children. Completing the paintwork and to experience the children’s joy from a few balloons and bubbles was another highlight.
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The Big Picture from the Hilltop

On the last morning we all trekked to the top of the hill overlooking the Global Angels farm and the Itinyi Valley. Here we envisaged the long-term dream of transforming the wider community living in the foothills and plains surrounding us, and contemplated how we would take what we had learned and experienced back home with us.
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Refuelling Each Evening

By staying in a safari lodge on a private game reserve, we saw wild animals every morning as we woke, every evening after work and even during the night as we peaked out of our bedroom windows. Our eyes feasted on lions, buffalo, giraffes, elephants, and warthogs, all seemingly so close, we could reach out our hands to touch them. What a treat!

One night, I saw eight lions chase hundreds of buffalo away from the waterhole in front of the lodge, only to be followed by the lead buffalo turning around and chasing the eight lions away. What followed was amazing – an hour of hearing all the lions roaring. They were literally below my bedroom window!
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What’s next? Come and Join us on our a Discovery Trip in September 2019 or June 2020 (click here to find out more)

We still have a water pans and masonry storage tanks to build to make us and the local community sustainable, with an urgent need to do that before the October/November rains. We would value your support to help us make that a reality.
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