Harambee for Kenya

In the words of the Explorer Scouts and young leaders who took part in the expedition.


After spending our first full day in Nairobi visiting such things as the elephant orphanage and the giraffe centre – more of which later – we travelled to Meru, our first long journey on the bumpy roads of Kenya. A reported three hour journey turned into a five hour road trip, and we quickly learnt not to take any notice of Bill when he gave directions, as we ended up going the wrong way before realising the error. But, he was quickly forgiven as a quick look at the map got us back on the right road.

– Catriona

It seemed forever before we arrived, and we were all very excited about meeting the boys in the safe house and seeing the school we were staying at. But first we had to stop off at a market in Meru – our first experience of being on the busy streets of Kenya and getting used to a new currency and different types of food and prices.

– Ellen

When we got to meet the boys for the first time they greeted us with big smiles and a Swahili song. I felt very good to know that I had already helped to make their lives better. We did not spend too long with the boys as we had to put up our tents, but in that short period I believe we had got to know them and had started to bond with them. Many of us felt very emotional and there were tears as well as smiles.

– Brooke

We then went to the school were we were staying and put up our tents on their playing field. We had our first homemade camp meal – nothing gourmet, but it filled us up. It was also our first experience of the ‘beautiful’ Kenyan long-drop toilets. We woke up early the next morning, ready for a day of painting and bonding with the boys.

– Marcus

After breakfast, we got straight to work transforming the boys’ dining room with new paint, and refreshing their day room with a painted black board and a mural depicting African animals, a waterhole and our Kenya Scout badge. We let the boys help paint the dining room, so they could feel they had contributed to making their home better. But, some of them ended up with more paint on themselves than they had put on the walls.

– Aoife

During the day we also played lots of games with the boys and read books with them. It was interesting to see how their eyes lit up when we gave them some basic toys, and some board games and cards from England to play with – particularly when they had been using footballs they had made themselves from old plastic bags. It was good to see that we were beginning to really get on well with the boys and that any barriers there might have been were totally broken down. We were also pleased that they were treating us like friends. But, we also knew we had to finish the painting.

– Safiya

The painting took a couple of days to complete. We were all particularly proud of the mural and I know all the boys, as well as the Kenyan adults, really loved it. To finish off the day room, we painted letters and numbers on one wall and we each put our hand prints and names on two others, so that a piece of all of us would remain at the safe house after we had left. We then took lots of photographs with us and the boys in front of the finished mural.

– Catriona

Before we left for Kenya, we promised the school we were staying at that we would bring them some books. Given they had been very kind to allow us to use the school, we were really pleased to present the teachers with well over one hundred books. The smiles on their faces told how delighted they were to receive them. We were also invited to take part in the school’s morning flag ceremony, which was organised by the Kenyan pupils who were also Scouts. We considered this to be a great honour, but an event we thoroughly enjoyed being part of.

– Brooke

During our stay in Meru, we also went to a quarry with a waterfall to see where some of the soapstone used in Kenya crafts comes from. We had to climb down a thin ledge to get to the quarry and, as we were shuffling down the rocks, all the quarry workers turned their heads as they had never seen visitors from Europe before – and had probably never seen a white face of any sort. East Africans call a white visitor a ‘ mzungu’ – which originally meant “someone who roams around” or “a wanderer”, but now simply means a white person.

– Marcus