When Bryan and Jade landed carrying their full business class luggage allowance we were overwhelmed with their generosity, as well as their family and their friends’. Their personal belongings for the safari were about a quarter of their luggage and the rest was stationary, clothes, and even some tablets (IPads, not medication!) for us to distribute to the community projects we support. We took Bryan and Jade to Amani Kibera so they could see for themselves the impact they were making on the community. For us, that is the real highlight of Pack for a Purpose: being able to take guests to the projects where they can make their donations in person and meet the beneficiaries.
Bryan and Jade are not the only guests who have come laden with supplies for Kenyan communities. Sheila had been sponsoring Ndunda’s education for some time before she and her friend Christine came for a safari in Kenya and then to Botswana. Ndunda lives at Kiota Children’s Home, one of the projects we support, and we worked a visit into Sheila and Christine’s itinerary. They had brought a pile of stationary, not just for Ndunda, but enough for all the children in the home.
Amani Kibera has a community library and relies entirely on donations of books to fill the shelves. Their primary focus with any funding or grants they receive is to buy the Kenyan syllabus texts as many children in the Kibera slum cannot afford their own copies. All other books, both fiction and non-fiction, have been donated by well-wishers. It’s really important to give children access to books other than their textbooks as it is not common to have books in the home. Kenyan children have to work a bit harder to get an interest in subjects not taught at school or to pick up a novel and get lost in the fantasy. Having such books available at the library gives them these opportunities and can open up the wider world to them. Tom brought books when he visited and so did the McDonnell and Wedeen families.
Even people who have not booked a safari with us have got in touch with us because they wanted to Pack for a Purpose. Given early starts on most safaris and odd flight times, we sometimes don’t get to meet these people in person but it’s lovely to walk into a hotel and receive a suitcase full of toys for Amani Kibera’s childcare centre or bags of stationary and arts and crafts supplies for Kiota.
Jackson was so inspired by the project he visited that a couple of years after his safari, he raised and sent us money to buy smart phones in Kenya. This gave the project leaders the ability to communicate more effectively with the world about their work and also use the DuoLingo app to learn English.
The benefit to the projects is immense. When every penny of funding and donations goes towards school fees, food and necessary school stationary, it is such a treat for the children at Kiota to get some art and craft supplies. The education system in Kenya is largely rote learning so getting such materials gives the children an opportunity to explore their own imaginations and develop creativity they might not get at school. Plus it’s fun, which is also important for these children who have had a pretty tough childhood.
Bringing stationary and other school supplies to Amani Kibera means they can distribute them to needy families who barely have enough money for school fees.
The projects benefit from Pack for a Purpose because they are able to specify exactly what they need and guests can bring those things. After this current COVID-19 crisis, everyone will have suffered in the economic downturn and especially those with less than the average person. We have unfortunately had a few of our sponsors cease their sponsorship of a Kenyan child’s education due to their own financial hardship in the current circumstances. When this is all over and we can travel again, any school supplies that can be brought to assist families as they scrape together money for school fees, uniforms and text books will be a great help.