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Now, it asks: What is Happiness?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mombasa & the Kilifi girls!

Seeing as my 2008 New Year's rezz is 'more balance..more mobility' I started my 2008 Kenyan tour of duty with a Mombabsa Sandwich.
Recipe: Take 2 glorious hot equatorial days on either side of a feel good/do good film project (2 heaped days). Preferably get someone else to pay for the hotel by reminding them how cheap a free meal really is. Finally add a 45min turboprop flight on either end, make some new friends and try out the HiDef on your new Sony.
The Mombasa Serena has to be a best kept secret...price of a holiday Inn in SA due mostly to the lack of tourist interest in Kenya at the mo'.

The trick to travel is to find a job where you get paid in kind. The moment money comes into the equation there is a sudden loss of interest in seeing the world. But if the former is the deal then you have no option but to ... opt for the lifestyle of an errant gigolo.

And this is where balance comes in. The filling of the sandwich comes with slightly different accommodation - a touch closer to the real Mombasa.

So after soaking up some deserved luxury Ida & I headed off to meet Anthony and the Kilifi Girls....where we stayed for the next 2 nights, complete with a loo that seemed to have sunk into the ground and lost its lid.

The real difference of course between the 2 overnight experiences lies in the young people we encountered. At the smartipants hotels I saw endless bored EuroYouths playing ping-pong with Euro-music plugged into their ears. The hotels are designed to make it totally unnecessary or desireable for anyone to want to leave and explore the outside world. I guess they make more money that way.

Despite such cynicism on my part, it really was rather jolly to lolly around on deck chairs and sip cocktails and after all, this is also a very real part of the East African Safari experience...better still if you can juxtapose it to another world just outside.....

At the Kilifi Girls' Home, the kids are all ears and eyes for anything new. They hang on every word and engage all visitors with pure love. This is all packaged in a remarkable and very Waldorfian sence of self discipline. Ida and I were amazed at how unregimented, yet disciplined the 36 girls were. We had a truly memorable time there and cannot wait to return.... see
In addition to being home to 36 girls, the orphanage is run as a bio-sustainable enterprize with solar power (which needs some attention!), a small farmyard and biogas from the animals. It is a real opportunity for first world enviro-techies to interface with a project with potential.
The philosophy of the home is to give young girls (many of whom have been rescued from a life of child prostitution, begging and abject poverty) access to the best education possible to maximise their chances of getting into university. These girls can now have dreams of not only a better life but to one day be opinion leaders in their own country...

I chatted to 2 lasses who are keen to be pilots, showing them FLight Simulator on my laptop.
One, Brenda, who has never seen a plane close-up, asked such astute questions about aviation that she is clearly a talent waiting to happen. At a very young age she was taken from her home near Lake Victoria to Mombasa to be sold into prostitution and servitude but ran away just in time. She was picked up on the streets and spent some nights in police cells until 'Uncle' Anthony took her under his wing. Now she has dreams of flying. It is truly moving to have an opportunity to be part of this transformation.

Filled with the joy of sustainable living, I returned to Nairobi intent on setting up my alternative power system. At the moment it is a battery inverter system but in time I hope to convert to solar which will be more in keeping with the spirit of sustainable energy. All this activity has not gone unnoticed as seen by the interest it is gettin g from our local monkey population. Or maybe it is the sheer beauty of Ida's rose garden......!@?

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