Back on the truck for the bumpiest ride of our lives – or ‘African massage’ as they nickname it! Our tour guide put on some African music but it may have been more appropriate to play ‘let’s shake, rattle n roll’ as the truck is a real bone shaker! The noise of the metal squeaking, creaking, rattling, banging and shaking is awful. Fortunately we stopped for lunch next to a field of crop and again at a souvenir shop to break up the journey. Some bartered for belts, masks and batik paintings, but being ‘mzunga’ means they automatically up the price and offer a low exchange rate if you only have US dollars, so you really have to barter.
Near Naivasha, the sixth largest town in Kenya, we saw flowers by Hells Gate National Park and Lake Naivasha. The fishing and flower industries are the main economic outputs of this area, with many flower fields owned by farmers from the Netherlands and large, British-owned Delamere estates. We stopped at the West Gate shopping mall to chose a selection of gifts for the children at the orphanage we were staying at for two nights.
We arrived at East African Mission Orphanage, set in lovely grounds with 250 kids aged between 6mths and 16 years. After pitching our tents, we walked towards the orphanage doors and swarms of smiling kids ran at us to say hi! The children gave us a guided tour of their dorms, field, dining area and I saw the nursery. We had dinner sitting with the children and then took part in their prayers and songs, before all the visitors had to stand up and introduce themselves. During my school days I would have died having to stand up in front of 250 kids and do that! Once they realised we had a birthday girl in the group, they sang happy birthday to her, a moment she says she will never forget for the rest of her life.
I spoke to one 13 year old boy at great length, who at his tender years said he wants to be a banker – I wish I had bought a useful book for him. He said he needed to ‘get good grades, like A+’ and that ‘English is a must.’ English is taught from nursery age in the orphanage. They really drill home the importance of education at the orphanage, and the need to attain good grades to get out of poverty.
We went to the dorms to say goodnight, and sat on their bunk beds I was surrounded. There were curious little faces in every space, necks craning to see my camera and iPhone photos of the UK, US and African animals. After, I re-joined the group in the bar to have a drink and a slice of celebratory cake for the birthday girl.