My adventure to Kenya began when I boarded a flight to Addis Ababa. Everything went smoothly until a faulty plane door delayed my flight to Mombasa by five hours. I arrived in the rush hour and eventually reached my hotel six hours late, exhausted but excited to be back in Africa. Then I discovered the shipping container with all the books was lost at sea!
A very early start the next morning saw the other volunteers and myself set off on a two day safari to Tsavo East game park. We saw many different animals including a rare sighting of a cheetah with two cubs. There was mild panic in our vehicle when extremely large grasshoppers were blown in both on the way in and out of the park.
We arrived back at the hotel and there was still no sign of the container. It was rather frustrating not knowing from one day to the next when it would appear. We filled in our time for the next few days sitting by the pool, walking on the beach and eating a lot of ice cream milkshakes. It sounds idyllic but not what we had gone to do.
We visited both of the existing libraries at Chidzangoni and Dzunga and read books and played games with the children. It was interesting to see the website pictures come to life.
I went on a visit to a children’s home to deliver books with Lenka, Jay and Salim, one of the librarians, followed by a drive through the Shimba hills and lunch in a lodge. We were shown around the very organised home which had a warm family feel to it. The next week I was invited back with the other volunteers to a child’s birthday party and we ate cupcakes made by the children and sang and danced as night fell – absolute magic!
Then more waiting so we booked a snorkelling trip in a traditional dhow and were amazed to see three pods of dolphins swimming around our boat. The day finished with a meal at a hotel followed by a tour of the Arab slave caves – absolutely gruesome.
Then more waiting. We were all getting frustrated by this time so the other volunteers went off to Nairobi for a few days and I went with Lenka to the first meeting of a support group for families with children with cerebral palsy. Over thirty turned up. It made me realise how lucky such children are in England.
Then at long last the container arrived at Malalani thirteen days into my stay. It was quite amazing to see it taken off the lorry. Then the next few hours were spent unloading the container. The villagers including the children helped and the boxes and items belonging to the other charity were piled up or put into classrooms at the school.
I returned for the next two days with Ann, who runs the craft sessions, and we sorted books to be donated to other organisations. It was very hot and we were glad not to be outside where the football team was painting the container in bright colours.
Then, too soon, it was time for me to return home. It was a great shame that the container was so delayed as I had really wanted to help set up the library and to be there on the opening day. However, the late arrival was no-one’s fault and Lenka did everything she could to get the container released from the docks.
I stayed in a lovely hotel, met some interesting and friendly people, went on some enjoyable trips and got quite good at haggling over price with the tuk tuk drivers! But the trip did cost a lot of money and didn’t go to plan. Having been to Africa before I know that nothing happens in a hurry. So hakuna matata.