By Britta Foulis – Content Marketing Manager
Throughout the year we bring children from local communities to our camps for a 5-day educational programme. Known as Twende Porini, meaning “let’s got to the bush”, the programme teaches these children about conservation and wildlife in fun and interesting ways while treating the kids to a safari experience, too!
How Are The Children Chosen?
In the Mara, we work together with the Kenya Wildlife Trust and the Mara Elephant Project, who have wildlife clubs in schools surrounding the Naboisho, Mara North and Olare Motorogi Conservancies. About six weeks out from a planned Twende Porini trip we run competitions within the various schools to select four students from each school in order to make up a group of 16 kids in total. For our first Twende Porini program, we held an art and poem writing competition to see what the children’s perspective on the conservancies and wildlife were, this year we asked the children to perform a song and dance in groups of four – it was absolutely wonderful to see what they came up with.
The video below shows one of the songs that the children created. These children wrote and performed their song which speaks against poaching and tells the message to poachers “you will never succeed in this world.”
We asked some of our camp managers and representatives from The Maa Trust, the Kenya Wildlife Trust, and the Mara Elephant Project to be judges in our competitions. The chosen children are then notified by letter to let them, and their families, know that they have been chosen to join a Twende Porini adventure!
We provide a list of basic items that the children would need to bring on a safari, it is something that most of them have never experienced before and is completely new.
On the first day of a Twende Porini programme, the kids are picked up in a game drive vehicle at 8 am from their various schools. The children are divided into four groups and assigned a mentor who stays with them in their tent and is there to help them throughout their stay. In the end, we have two girl groups and two boy groups. The children are then asked to choose a team name and are taken to their tents, there is always great excitement when the kids see the rooms! They cannot believe that they get to stay for four nights in a room like this. It can be a bit overwhelming but they soon relax just as children do and start enjoying it all.
What Do The Children Get Up To?
The children are treated to two game drives a day, one in the early morning and one after tea in the afternoon. Game drives are the favourite activity for many of the children! Each vehicle takes four children and their mentor on a guided drive through the grasslands with one of our qualified guides. Our guides are almost always from the Masai culture as well so the children really do bond with them and, in the end, look up to the guides and are inspired by the work they do. Our guides thoroughly enjoy inspiring, encouraging and teaching the young generation of tomorrow and take great pride in doing so.
Each day, our Positive Impact partners present educational sessions for the children, teaching them about environmental awareness and caring for nature. These sessions last roughly half an hour and incorporate lots of fun games so that the children aren’t bored. The children take part in yoga lessons and lots of dancing as well – these activities usually end up in lots of laughs and giggles!
We’ve added a range of other fun activities for the children to entertain themselves with – an art station, footballs, skipping ropes, and frisbees are available for the children to use and play with during their stay with us. Through the generous funding from a family who have spent time in our camps, the children were gifted with digital cameras to take pictures of their time with us. The children have fun learning about photography and taking pictures of themselves, their friends, and the amazing landscapes and wildlife they encounter out on game drives.
We host a movie night during the children’s time with us. Lots of hot chocolate and popcorn are devoured while the age-old African classic, The Lion King is shown on the big screen. The kids find it hilarious that the animals can speak and especially love the cheeky hyenas!
On the last day of Twende Porini, we pull out all the stops with a delicious farewell lunch and ceremony. Every child and member of staff receive a certificate to state that they have taken part in the programme and every child receives an extra special prize that is unique to them. There are always lots of hugs when the children’s time with us comes to an end, they form a strong bond with their mentors and our teams. It is so special to see how much the programme means to them and how much of an impact it has in their lives.
Once all the children have left and the camp team and mentors remain, we have a big BBQ to celebrate a successful Twende Porini! Goat meat, drinks and cake are enjoyed and we all share our favourite moments from our time spent with the children. It is an absolute pleasure to be a part of such a special and important programme and one that I hope only grows from strength to strength.
Hear From The Children
At the end of every Twende Porini trip, once the children have returned home and had time to think about their time out in the bush, they often have a lot to say about the things they’ve learned and how the trip made them feel. Read some of the kids’ thoughts on Twende Porini below:
Alex Ledama, 14 years old, Irbaan Primary School – “My favorite thing that I liked doing when I was a part of Twende Porini was everything because everything was fun! There was something I enjoyed most that even when I heard that it was time for that particular activity I just felt a different feeling in my body, that was game drives.”
Stanley Mgugua, 13 years old, Irbaan Primary School – “My favorite animal is the giraffe, I like giraffes because they are the tallest animal on Earth. Giraffes like walking elegantly and it is also beautiful, they like eating leaves from the treetops. When I was younger I always wanted to ride a giraffe!”