Overview

University trip to Kenya

Most people at some point want to travel, experience different cultures and something authentic and meaningful about the place they have been to, and also give something back to the communities they have visited. Many feel sheltered from the difficult lives that many people in this world have and want to interact sensitively to understand something of what they go through, and perhaps contribute something beneficial. There is that curiosity and inherent humanity to want to help others.

We find that a lot of University students have the intellectual curiosity and the ideology, but would like the experience and the self-challenge. This university trip to Kenya offers something which ticks a lot of those boxes without being a pointless, embarrassing event that leaves everyone with their expectations unmet. 

Here's a video made by a Canadian film maker and fellow mountaineering friend of Gavin's who organised a challenging adventure for some students from Ontario. Having climbed Everest, Elia went to Africa with Moving Mountains and it was there that he dreamt up the Finding Life Challenge:

 

Travel, adventure and safety
The travel, the adventure and the challenge are all fairly easily achieved with a trip to Kenya. Some universities like to climb Kilimanjaro or Mount Kenya as a challenge, or cycle along the rift valley. We have the big overland trucks in place, and lots of equipment for camping out and going on safaris. It's all very safe too, the problems on the border with Somalia are many days of travel away, and where we go are still popular places that tourists go. The National Parks are still full of animals and the mountains offer great views and solitude. We don't go near any unsafe places and the projects are pretty much all in areas which don't present a danger or threat. 

The university trip is for a basic two weeks across Kenya, working on projects developed by our charity in Moving Mountains Kenya, and includes a safari in one of our overland trucks see more of Kenya’s diverse culture and abundant wildlife. Generally speaking, groups then choose to add a challenge element, like climbing Mount Kenya or Mount Kilimanjaro. Some people choose to then continue travelling or work with the charity a bit more, or come home. It's a flexible arrangement that works well with universities societies, RAG challenge groups and field study groups. We have all the logistics in place and provide the basic structure of the trip, but mostly groups build on this with specific interests like engineering, medicine, farming, anthropology, tourism and social enterprise. 

Most groups are between ten and twenty five, comprising students from all years and multiple disciplines. Because of our very long relationships with staff and partners in Kenya, along with guesthouses, vehicles and equipment at our disposal, volunteer groups are quickly welcomed and integrated into the local community and it is always very sociable. Some groups need space to hold meetings or outdoor lessons and we have plenty of options for this, including the trucks themselves which become mobile homes. 

Well established community links and benefits
The trips to Kenya for schools, universities and charity groups provide the support for Moving Mountains, which delivers social welfare services to a variety of locations with the agreement and collaboration of the local education and health authorities. We don't impose anything on anyone, and our model is based on an expertise in sustainable development which began with Gavin's work in Kibera in Nairobi in 1991 when he worked with the UN and Medecins sans Frontieres. Some of our staff worked with Gavin at that time and in the intervening years the charity has built an enviable track record of solid successful programmes and projects. Here's a video showing Kibera and one of the beneficiaries talking about life and Moving Mountains:

Obviously any group wanting to go on a trip like this needs to be sure that their time and efforts will be useful and properly managed. We work very hard on properly training people, ensuring that expectations are met on both sides, and creating an equitable enjoyable environment that represents modern progressive development, rather than something old fashioned and vaguely colonial. As a company, Adventure Alternative is driven by the needs of Moving Mountains which in turn works in partnership with the local stakeholders. Our attitude is very much collaborative and if you look at the Moving Mountains website you will see that the vision is all about equality and opportunity. We are very keen to give people an experience that tackles stereotypes of aid and western donors and volunteering. 

We also don't want to peddle the notion that people can go out and change the world with a two week visit to go and visit a children's home, which most people nowadays will see as cheap marketing and exploitative. Definitely there are benefits for local people to have visitors come and spend money, interact and make friends, learn and share and socialise. We have spent a long time investing and working together with many people in Kenya to see that tourism and even voluntourism has great economic benefits. But we are not interested in using an image of poverty to attract a donor or volunteering group to facilitate some weird catharsis for white people to go and help poor black people.

Actually the benefits are very much two way, the benefits are as much intangible and tangible. We can build a school or classroom and help the provincial education office achieve its aim of increasing the number of children in school, but most people remember the friendships and mixing of cultures and social confidence that comes from just meeting up to tackle something together. Nowadays, Kenyans are online all the time, they have Facebook accounts and their mobile networks are as good as anything in Europe. There is a large middle class sector, well educated and highly motivated, and Kenya provides excellent investment opportunities. They have compulsory primary school education and a very good secondary school network and high class colleges and universities. For many people on their visit to Africa, they are surprised by just how cosmopolitan and modern Nairobi is. The airport is brand new, the roads are modern highways and the conservation methods in their many national parks are the envy of Africa. It's a great place to visit. 

Like most countries there is also a divide between rich and poor, there is no free health care system and the education system lacks resources. The Government has big aims but needs support. Foreign aid budgets form part of this supplement but charities and NGOs also have their part to play on the ground with focussed, long term programmes that allow for skills and innovative technology to transfer easily across and at a level which is often one to one. This is where we operate, and it is the level at which this trip is run. You get to meet people at grassroots who are engaged with helping others, like teachers and nurses, social workers and counsellors, committee members and tribal chiefs, administrative staff managing the courts and the local clinics and the schools. This is the coal face of social welfare in a country like Kenya, thousands of people earning a living and contributing to society. Going on this trip is a chance to meet these people, and be moved and inspired to spend time with them and to take away something about humanity that we all share, a desire to help others and make our dreams come true. 

Activities and highlights of the University trip to Kenya

Camping, cooking, shopping and socialising in the middle of east Africa with a big overland truck as your home, a bonfire every night, the sound of the animals at night, the steamy heat of a summer afternoon, the drama of a thunderstorm lighting up the horizon, monsoon rain lasting for a few minutes, cracked ochre red earth, green like you've never seen green before, African singing and laughing, blue skies and the whitest clouds, early morning fog hanging in the trees, sweet milky tea for breakfast, having the time to talk late into the night and solve the problems of the world.

The project is just great fun, working with Kenyan fundis and tradesmen, sharing jokes and work, learning about things like mortar mesh technology and building with labour rather than mechanisation. You can visit lots of other projects and see how over the many years we have worked towards a Grand Plan - twenty schools and thousands of children in education, and many people in gainful employment. Hopefully your biggest highlight will be coming back with a whole new set of opinions about how Africa can and does help itself and the role of charities like Moving Mountains. 

We organise games and events and competitions with the kids in the schools, they love it. It's been part of their life for a long time now; summer camps, weekend visits to places, mentoring, lots of foreign visitors and a chance to go to a national park and see an elephant. We've seen many of those children grow up into confident adults, partly because of having a 'normal' life as children. This trip is part of their personal development too, and just meeting you gives them that self-esteem, the confidence to be curious and bold and ambitious. 

The safari is what you will probably imagine, lots of wildlife and open spaces. You might not have imagined getting up at 5am and seeing an African dawn break over the horizon, and watch lion on the trail of buffalo at the 'time of the horns' when the light is just enough for the first silhouettes to appear. You might not have imagined eating your dinner by a fire beneath an acacia tree listening to the evening chorus of animals and wondering if that electric fence near the lake will stop the hippos from coming through, or being woken suddenly at night by a roar that puts the hairs up on the back of your neck and makes you realise just how thin tent fabric is. These things are not uncommon experiences on a safari, they are pretty much every day and night. 

And then there's the Kenyans themselves, a vibrant mix of characteristics and over forty tribes living in a rich land on the east side of Africa with the luck to have good water, great mountains and giant valleys, some of the thinnest crust on the earth, an abundance of wildlife, great stretches of golden beaches and great weather. It shares a unique history with Great Britain because of the colonial past, but as the new generations rise through this period of globalisation and prosperity leads to a burgeoning middle class with high aspirations, the nature of our relationship with Kenya will change. Once regarded as the jewel in the crown of African safaris, Kenya is rapidly becoming a major commercial investment hub for the continent. There is much to learn and share and despite the recent issues with the al Shabaab incursions on the Somali border, in reality is it still a very safe country to visit. 


National Parks to visit

With groups there are plenty of opportunities to explore the land and go to different parks, but they do have different characteristics and often specific wildlife attractions. Travel is a factor to take into consideration because although travelling in the truck is great fun, you wouldn't want to spend days and days going from place to place and miss out on activities and game viewing. 

Lake Nakuru/Lake Naivasha and Hells Gate give you the opportunity to experience more than one National Park with a combination of activities. It is close to Nairobi so we can get two nights camping on the shores of Lake Naivasha and a night at Nakuru National Park. We’ll also be able to take boats out on to Lake Naivasha to see the wallowing Hippo and, if you are interested, a visit to Elsamere, the former home of the late Joy Adamson who, together with her husband George, became world famous for their pioneering conservation work and relationship with the lioness Elsa (Born Free).  There are also some great walks around the lake, we can arrange for some games and swimming at the campsite and there are options to cycle through Hells Gate.

Samburu Game Reserve would give us two nights camping inside the Reserve and a further third night back in Naro Moru before returning to Nairobi. Samburu Reserve is an arid, hilly region with riverine forests, acacia woodland and scrubland, offering a dramatic and rugged landscape in a rather remote location of Kenya - which is precisely the attraction of this reserve - fewer tourists in a wildlife rich, desert like setting. We’ll also be able to visit and learn about the local Samburu people and their way of life.

Meru National Park would again give us two nights camping inside the National Park and a further third night back in Naro Moru before returning to Nairobi. Meru is even less frequented than Samburu and although it has a higher scenic value to Samburu the bush landscape makes spotting wildlife a little more difficult. However, with seven rivers flowing through the Park there will always be an abundance of watering holes where you will see plenty of wildlife, including the black rhino, crocodile and plenty of elephant.

Masai Mara would more than likely involve a night on the shores of Lake Naivasha where we can do the boat trip out on to the lake before getting to the Mara for two nights camping, returning to Nairobi in the morning of day 13. Masai Mara needs no introduction and although will be by far the busiest with tourists flocking to the region all year round, it is also the park which gives the best chance of seeing the widest variety of wildlife.

Programme

University trip to Kenya itinerary

The core dates cover a two week period, which starts with your arrival in Nairobi and a rest, briefing and sightseeing day. We then travel by road to the project site where we set up camp. The next week is spent doing the project and main activities. After a closing ceremony we'll head off on overland safari before returning to Nairobi at the end of the two weeks for an evening meal celebration.

Groups can however choose a challenge like Mount Kenya or Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Meru to lengthen their trip, or some people can stay on to do more work with the charity or go travelling by themselves. 

DETAILED ITINERARY
DayElevationTravel TimeInfo
1     Arrive in Nairobi, where you will be met by a team from Adventure Alternative and Moving Mountains Kenya who will remain with you throughout the entire trip. You will spend the rest of the day meeting the staff, having an expedition briefing, and taking part in day visits to MM projects in Nairobi. Overnight in Nairobi.
2     Transfer to the project. Morning drive in one of Adventure Alternative's converted overland trucks (which will also remain with the team for the duration of the trip) to your project. Here we will set up camp on location, meet all the staff and children at the school as well as the relevant committee members and, of course, the kids who will be joining you for the camp.
3-10     Camp & Project. Project locations are discussed in detail with our staff in the UK. It may be that you have a personal preference for the project location or that the weather at a particular time of year makes certain locations unsuitable. We discuss the options so that you can understand how the charity works with the communities to decide what is needed, and also how to make sure that your expectations are met. The aim is to ensure an equitable and enjoyable experience for everyone. 
11-13     Early start to reach National Park/Game Reserves in good time, there are a couple of options for the safari and all are great areas to visit for very different reasons. The trucks become our mobile homes and all the meals are prepared on site. In some parks you can cycle or walk, some are huge and expansive while others are compact. Some are famous for a particular animal, like the flamingoes on Lake Nakuru, while others like the Masai Mara have an abundance of variety. 
14     We'll be back in Nairobi early evening on day 13 for a celebration/farewell meal/party before departing Kenya on day 14. An evening departure will allow us the full day to visit any projects and tourist attractions that we may not have had a chance to visit on day 1.

 

DAILY ROUTINE

There will be the renovation or building project which will depend on the particular area you are in and will involve working alongside our Moving Mountains field workers in a real hands-on and hard work experience. The project could be anything from building schools in Solio or Nairobi to renovating the Rescue Centre in Embu or agricultural development in Western Kenya. 

Each day will give you the opportunity to get involved with different aspects of building and both skilled and unskilled work. You could find yourself making bricks, laying foundations, building walls, putting on the roof and windows, plastering, painting and helping to organise for chairs, tables, cupboards, etc to be made locally and delivered to the site.

You should expect fairly basic facilities; toilets are likely to be of the 'long drop' variety, washing could be with a bucket in a shower tent and electricity may only be provided by generator. This is certainly not a luxury holiday but an opportunity to get involved in a project well away from any sort of tourist trail in this beautiful country. You will need to also go shopping, sample some Kenyan recipes and try lots of different foods, cook over an open fire and organise lots of social activities because Kenyans love to socialise and have a party. 

Days start at daybreak with the first cocks crow, and the days can be tiring in the heat. Evenings can be spent on site or going into town for a visit. On weekends you could try out a visit to the local church, go sightseeing and visit some local events. There's always lots going on, life is vibrant and fun, and certainly in the bigger towns there is a real sense of modern middle class Africa. 

It's perfectly safe in the areas where we go, we are nowhere near the Somali border or any places that are known to be potentially dangerous because of large crowds. In reality, the Parks and villages and rural areas are perfectly safe, we've never ever had a security problem with our groups in over twenty years. The most important issue will be to make sure you take your anti-malarial tablets, rather than worrying about national security. 

Cost

University trip to Kenya cost £995.00

INCLUDES
  • All accommodation - either in guest houses or camping in safari tents
  • All meals 
  • All internal transport to and from project, on safari and airport transfers
  • Adventure Alternative Kenya staffing 
  • Medical back-up from Interhealth (telemedicine service)
  • All National Park entrance fees and permits
  • All payments and donations made to host communities and individuals from the trip fee
EXCLUDES
  • Moving Mountains fundraising target; £400 per person. This is paid directly to our charity so you can set up online fundraising pages and claim gift aid.
  • International flights
  • Personal Travel Insurance
  • Vaccinations & anti-malaria tablets
  • Tourist Visa (currently £30)
  • Personal costs (email, phone laundry, souvenirs, tips etc)

Local provider - Adventure Alternative Kenya is the main local provider; it has all the staff, the vehicles, the tents/camping equipment and guesthouses to manage your stay. We don't outsource and we keep an eye on all the agreements and contracts to make sure that nobody is exploited. We also provide pre-trip meetings and advice for the trip from experienced qualified people who will visit your university.

Volunteering  - holiday or not?
According to UK package travel law and the EU travel initiatives, any sort of visit abroad where an organisation provides accommodation, activities and/or flights counts as a holiday and therefore must have financial bonding in place to protect your money, and should have proper insurance for tour operators and must have proper processes in places to ensure the safety and welfare of clients. This is why Moving Mountains does not offer this trip direct, it is not a tour operator. It has a big influence on the content of the trip but it can't legally sell a trip. Adventure Alternative is the registered provider which carries out the trip. This is there to protect you because there are plenty of examples of uninsured and unbonded organisations offering volunteering trips, Uni breaks or schools trips; these are the ones that generally make the news when they fail and leave people stranded. 

Where does the fundraising go?

The fundraising total is completely separate to the money you give to Adventure Alternative, and is only used to pay for the charitable costs associated with your trip.

The objectives of the charity includes both personal development and international development, so any fundraising is used to help fund all the programmes we fund for beneficiaries and volunteers. Administration fees are kept low because Adventure Alternative provides significant funding for the overheads of the charity. We also want to make sure that people who fundraise for Moving Mountains and volunteer with us really do think about the ethics of volunteering and why people should go abroad in the first place. Here's a video giving some opinions on the debate and a word from the founder Gavin Bate:

Part of your fundraising goes on the training and preparation of your trip, some of it on staff who manage the programmes who are going out to see and experience and some of it on your visit. None of it goes on your food, accommodation and logistical backup and support, that's what is covered by the Adventure Alternative trip cost. Here's how the actual fundraising money is split up:

20% to training and preparation
80% to the programmes you will be visiting and working with

20% training. This is used specifically for the training and preparation sessions we will run in preparation for your trip, and also the preparation of the trip itself. We employ an experienced manager in the UK who will work with you in the run up to your trip and help ensure you arrive well prepared. We also have a lot of videos and information to share, plus you will be able to skype the staff in Kenya and get to know them a little bit. It is very important that your expectations are met realistically, but also that your visit achieves the aim of the charity and the needs of the local people, so much time will be spent on training and preparation. There are also lots of practical aspects, like vaccinations, flights, clothing, visa and making sure you can keep in touch with home easily, perhaps with a blog.

80% NGO programmes. Thisis allocated to the programmes we run in Kenya which you will be taking part in. For example we pay salaries for the social workers, teachers and the staff at the homes and centres we support. These are the people who will give you the insight into life for an NGO employee, and your trip will directly contribute to their livelihoods.

 Depending on where you go, this fundraising money will pay for the following items:

 Embu Rescue Centre:

  • Daily feeding programme for over 100 children
  • Electricity and gas for the showers for street kids and for the cooking facilities
  • Staff salaries for social workers and counsellors at the centre
  • Educational materials and teachers salaries
  • Vocational training programmes for street kids
  • Provision of educational workshops for street kids
  • Equipment for the Black Cats football programme

Solio Village Community - Construction Projects:

  • Puchase of raw materials
  • Transport costs of raw materials
  • Labour costs for the Moving Mountains Work Team and local ‘fundi’
  • Training programmes for street children in construction

Ulamba Orphanage and Early Child Development Centre

  • Daily food costs for all children and staff in the centre
  • Electricity for lighting and communications and gas for showers, cooking and heating
  • Staff salaries for the centre personnel
  • School fees, uniform and transport costs for children
  • Equipment, furnishings, bedding and maintenance costs

 National programmes

  • Social welfare and educational costs for children in primary and secondary school
  • College costs and vocational training costs
  • Community Health Programmes (HIV AIDS, sex education)
  • School exam fees
  • Salaries for counsellors, teachers and medical staff
  • After school ‘clubs’ such as Homework Club, Reading Club

Our support for beneficiaries in Kenya lasts from primary school right through to employment, combining financial assistance with holistic support which involves the school, family and community to ensure that beneficiaries become independent, break the cycle of poverty and contribute in turn to the further development of their communities.

A vital part of this is the potential created by your visit; in one sense it helps finance the work of the charity, giving you the chance to experience work like this, while at the same time it allows vital interaction between you and the beneficiaries, which can only promote self-esteem and self-belief for both parties.

Clothing

University trip to Kenya - clothing

  • Rucksack or duffle, 65-90 litres (check airline for weight allowance)
  • Small day pack, approx 20-25 litres (hand luggage for flight)
  • Sleeping Bag (2 season is ideal)
  • Sleeping Mat/Therm-A-Rest
  • General clothes - jeans, shirts, Tshirts, shorts, sunhat
  • Lightweight waterproof jacket
  • Fleece or jacket
  • Good boots (for project work) & trainers, sandals or flip flops
  • Sun glasses, suncream, insect repellant
  • Wash kit and travel towel
  • Camera, mobile and charger units (3 pin plug is fine)
  • Head torch
  • Money belt
  • Personal first aid kit
  • Water bottle
  • Country guide book
  • Local language phrasebook
  • Notebook, stationery, pens

Don't take your most expensive stuff and leave expensive watches and things at home if you can. Take an old mobile phone for example and be careful with expensive things like ipods and cameras. Keep your money somewhere safe in a moneybelt. Do not bring large wads of notes with you, if you take sterling cash then make sure they are Bank of England notes, not regional notes eg Northern Irish or Scottish notes.

Also don't forget:
Your passport - valid for at least six months beyond the return date.
Insurance - comprehensive travel and medical insurance cover.
Immunisation booklet - with details of all the jabs you've had.
Tickets and itinerary - remember to leave copies of these with friends or family.
Money - a mixture of some cash and credit/debit card.
List of useful contact numbers - such as British Embassy/Consulate, insurance company and credit card 24 hour emergency telephone number.

Take normal and old clothes, and remember you can wash everything while in Kenya, and you can buy pretty much anything you need in the markets and shops. In fact most of the clothing which we throw away here ends up in the street markets in Nairobi, so you can go there and buy them all back again! Take a jacket or fleece for cooler evenings, and remember to take a selection of short and long sleeved items, so you've got cover from the sun and protection from biting insects in the evening. Girls should dress conservatively in public and especially in schools and homes. You will draw unnecessary attention to yourself and maybe cause offence if revealing clothing is worn. Guys are fine with shorts and T-shirts but dress more smartly if you are making any visits because you are a role model and men are generally keen on looking smart. 

Old clothes will be used for the everyday project; they will get dirty, covered in paint, etc. You need travel clothes which are clean for the travelling home bit, and for Nairobi, but in the schools and during the projects you can just wear normal clothes that would you use at home.

Why Us

University trip to Kenya - why us?

  • We have many years of experience managing University groups in development trips like this
  • We have Moving Mountains Societies registered at Cambridge and Bristol University
  • We are driven by good intentions and not just good practise; our trips work with professional bodies that work full time in the field of international development.
  • All our guides and staff are professionally trained and have years of proven experience.
  • We don't take people's jobs, we use these trips to invest in people
  • We provide a full personal service including visits before going, training and preparation throughout, lots of communication and assistance, proper breakdowns of project money being spent and justification of donor money being spent, impact assessments, advice and feedback afterwards. 

THE PROMISE TO MOVING MOUNTAINS

Moving Mountains started as a small charity in 1991 when Gavin Bate was teaching in the slums of Kenya. Some of the children he taught are now adults and working for the charity and the company. Along the way Gavin has put into action a set of beliefs in how a charity should best be run. This is nothing to do with helping a single poverty stricken child, but a way of running a community which can break free of poverty and not become reliant on others for handouts. It defines the way money is spent, how it is distributed, and how it fits in with the wider needs. It doesn’t focus on the child, but on how the child is brought up in the family and the community. It’s taken nearly twenty years of experience to get to the point where Moving Mountains is now a big charity which has such a successful ‘business model’ that the communities themselves love.

Your trip is part of something successful and inspiring, and it’s part of a vision that somebody had a long time ago. Your promise to us is to let that vision continue.

LOCAL BENEFITS

The school building programmes at Tigithi, Western Kenya, Solio, Embu and Nairobi will all benefit from your presence, but also from the external cash that we bring into the area courtesy of your visit. We employ many local people and nobody is left out. A school will benefit from having a new structure, courtesy of your visit, and that school will be part of a long term action plan that we have with the Board but you'll also find that many other people in the local community benefit, everyone from the ladies washing clothes to the family selling fruit from their farm. During your trip you will be able to talk to the Kenyan staff and be a part of this process so it is completely open.

Some people think that building something is not really beneficial to a community, and we agree with that, but only if there is no long term plan. If your presence helping our staff to renovate a classroom is part of our long term plan to refurbish an entire school and work with the education authorities to improve academic performance by 25% and intake by 30%, then for sure your visit is creating a lot of local benefit! 

PROFIT SHARE

Your trip fee is calculated to benefit as many local individuals and organisations as possible. Adventure Alternative Kenya manages your trip and the revenue we give them from this trip and others allows them to employ 26 people in the office. Additionally we use small local operations and businesses for services and accommodation, which feeds money into local economies and communities. This is a big part of our commitment to the principles of Fair Trade Volunteering, which tries to ensure that companies follow a moral responsibility to make sure that the host community gets some of the money from tourism, and it doesn't end up costing them to look after you.

The trip fee also helps to pay for a multitude of profit share programmes in-country, and all of them benefit the community and the beneficiaries. For example, sleeping at Ulamba in Western Kenya involves a payment from Adventure Alternative which goes to the charity and enables it to look after the 40+ children and the 6 staff there. Ours is a business model around the concept of social enterprise, which is a subject that Gavin Bate lectures about occasionally at Oxford Brookes University. Every year students from universities go on a social enterprise field trip to Kenya to experience how the model of profit share and social capital works. 

 

 

Projects

University trip to Kenya - projects

Clearly there is a benefit in going somewhere to see things for yourself, without necessarily thinking that you are going there to change the world. Kenyan builders don't need a group of unskilled foreign people coming out to build their schools, but the collaboration and joint sense of purpose has other benefits which are less tangible, not least the social and cultural interaction, skills transfer, increase in self-esteem, widening of perspective and simple enjoyment of making new friends. If, at the end of the day, a school or clinic or water well has been built with more hands then all the better. It is our job to ensure that this type of trip and the interaction is handled properly and equitably, so that nobody feels somehow disappointed afterwards. The media is full of negative stories, which makes it all the more important that groups and volunteers ask pertinent questions about their trip and what it actually sets out to achieve. A healthy skepticism is good! We feel very confident that our model works, and we have a long history of evidence to back it up, and perhaps most importantly we have the knowledge and expertise to justify promoting a trip like this in the first place. 

Many of our beneficiaries and staff talk about the enjoyment of feeling part of the wider world once they can connect with new friends on Facebook or What's App, sharing ideas and thoughts long after the trip is over. It gives them self-confidence and self belief. We have many stories of how they have gone on to college and university to become qualifed, employed, married and secure. Similarly many visitors come back feeling invigorated with a healthy dose of reality and life experience. Many report getting more out of the experience than they felt they gave, but feeling like they did make a difference and that they experienced a different culture in a positive way. Some felt sheltered from the difficult lives many people in the world have and felt that they understood more of that struggle by interacting. In truth many of the consequences of trips like this are only seen many years later, when people look back on a certain experience or meeting that they recognize changed their life. 

Projects and partnerships - equitable and useful

All our projects in Kenya are part of a long-term sustained programme by our charity Moving Mountains. Over the years we have built whole schools and classrooms, laboratories, computer rooms, libraries, kitchens, water bore holes/pumps, special needs facilities and we have provided children with text books, reading books, stationery, school uniforms, laboratory equipment and have also sponsored students through their education. Many of these facilities have been fundraised for by University charity groups like RAG, school groups and adult groups.

We have a great model of equitable partnerships with local stakeholders like the provincial education and health authorities, Ministry of Works, tribal chiefs and community committees. We don't do anything that hasn't been assessed first and we don't do anything that isn't a part of the bigger picture of Governmental aims in education, health or social welfare. We don't act independently, we don't take people's jobs and we don't allow expectations to get out of hand. We make it relevant, realistic and equitable.

Since 1991 this strict set of values has meant that none of our projects have failed or been sticking plaster solutions, and they have all become sustainable because the communities and local authorities have essentially taken over where we left off. This sort of partnership with stakeholders takes years to achieve and perfect, but we also have the Kenyan NGO with a full Board of members who are all experienced and qualified to manage development projects in their own country. If the whole approach begins without that hierarchy of aid that has the danger of being a bit colonial, then generally it all works a lot better. We see ourselves as a partner in the process of achieving our charitable objectives, not a superior body. 

Outcomes and benefits of your visit

Taking part with a University charity group to Kenya means helping to fundraise for useful facilities in a developing country and coming out to see your money spent and how an NGO works in conjunction with a UK charity and local authorities. There's a lot to learn about aid and development, innovative technology and local skills, globalisation and social responsibility. On the ground you can learn about things like mortar mesh technology as a way of building structures with unskilled labour, or early learning facilities in the Kenyan education system, or how social enterprise enables street kids to get out the rut of poverty. 

You get to travel, to meet people, to have an adventure and explore national parks to see the wildlife, see how other people live, and probably challenge yourself. Lots of University groups opt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Kenya as well, and some students stay on to do some extra volunteering or travelling. For those students keen to get a career in the third sector, we can give them some time in the office helping to manage some of the NGO work like correspondence, website content, social media campaigns and research into grant funding. Some feel knowledgeable enough to teach IT to our staff or some of our older beneficiaries (especially those at college or University), and some can work with children if they have had a DBC police check and have the requisite skills and competencies. Medical students enjoy working with community health workers or helping to run one of our primary healthcare programmes. 

From the charity's point of view, the outcome is a structure which then has to be integrated into a community and given the finance and support to do something useful. This is why so much time is spent assessing a project because in our experience so many well-intentioned charity projects collapse because of a lack of understanding and communication over ownership and maintenance. A classroom is not our classroom, it's a classroom owned and managed by the local education authorities and community. Handled correctly, the benefits of a well run charity trip are far reaching. We have seen our schools flourish and develop over many years without our further assistance, for no other reason than just making a clear agreement before it was built. 

We have established many projects over the years and here are few of the areas where we continue to provide capital support. To see more about each individual facility you should look at the Moving Mountains Trust website. We will of course provide all the training and preparation in advance of any visit, and ensure that your trip is perfectly safe. 

 

Western Kenya
Ulamba is our residential care home located in this rural district and for any school building project in this area, Ulamba will be your base and home.  Ulamba is one part of a wider plan to bring education and support to an entire community, which includes 8 different schools in the District, Siaya District Hospital and Dophil clinic, an Early Child Development Centre, Health Clinic, Community Centre, Volunteer Guest Houses and small farm. All of this has been achieved already and a lot of our work is maintenance and expanding to new schools. 

The 8 schools in the area are all at varying levels of completion, some will just need a final classroom, kitchen, library, etc built and others are in the early stages of development. The schools include Wagwer Primary and Secondary School, Wagai Primary, Barkawadhu Primary, Kayieye Primary, Komouk Primary, Nyasidhi Primary and Barkatado Primary. Western Kenya is very rural and like Tigithi the majority of the area is made up of small subsistence farms which have struggled to produce good crops due to the prolonged droughts in East Africa.

Solio Villages
Solio is an area in central Kenya, close to Mount Kenya, and is currently home to an estimated 10,000 internally displaced families (who were evicted from the slopes of Mt Kenya and the Aberdares as part of a Government environmental project) spread out over seven separate villages. By the end of 2008, 4 acre plots had been allocated to every family and new communities were becoming established. However, lack of funding, irrigation and adverse weather conditions made subsistence farming very difficult.

Moving Mountains is working on a number of long term projects in the Solio villages, including building homes, health facilities and the provision of clean and accessible water for everyone. We’ve also started to support a few individual children and families who are in urgent need of support and are developing our Black Cats Sports. Each village has a Primary School which needs classrooms and facilities and in the future we plan to work with the Government to provide quality, affordable Secondary education for all the children of Solio.

Embu Town
In Embu our main priority is the high number of street children in the area and we have a street kid rescue centre which provides meals on a daily basis for all the kids as well as providing free education classes, toilets and washing facilities and maybe most importantly of all, a safe and welcoming environment where the kids can receive advice, encouragement, support and medical help. We have a number of real success stories among these boys and girls with a large number getting back in to the education process, returning to their families, setting up successful businesses, moving in to homes and joining our football programme where they realise their value to society and are given the spring board to get away from the dangerous life on the streets. 

We also support and are in the process of developing two Primary schools called Urban and Embu County (both of which are made up of kids from the main slums which surround the schools), a special needs school and outside the town, a small rural Primary school called Gatwe primary.

Nairobi
Nairobi is where Moving Mountains started with their support of Muthurwa Primary School in the Industrial Slums and the children who were living on the streets in this area. Things have developed since then and we run our flag-ship football coaching programme with girls and boys, junior and senior teams competing in a variety of cups and competitions across Kenya.


We also work in Africa’s second largest slum Kibera, where we have developed and support the Ushirika medical clinic.  Ushirika is also the base for our HIV/Aids Community Outreach program with a team of health workers and volunteers working daily in the slum to provide medical and nutritional assistance and counselling to families and individuals affected with HIV/Aids, the schools we work with in Nairobi vary from large Government Primary schools to small slum Primary schools in Kibera.

Photos

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It is now a week since I returned from another wonderfully warm (in all senses!) visit to Kenya and I am missing it terr…

Read More Matt Todd
Staff Review

This is a great trip for University students looking to achieve personal development through international development.

Key Information
  • Duration 2 weeks
  • Numbers 20
  • Comfort Camping
Kenya information
Moving Mountains
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