Thursday 07 December 2017. Photos
Highlights: Lake Nakuru Game Drive, Playing with Orphans
Today we got to experience the diverse wildlife in Africa and the amazing spirits of the young orphans at the East Africa Mission Orphanage (EAMO). I got to experience nature at it’s best and complete the ‘Big Five’ while being moved almost to tears when playing with the children of EAMO who were so happy doing the most simple things when they have so little.
First up was our drive to Lake Nakuru. I still can’t understand how som roads have speed bumps every 10 or so metres, I mean how can you get up any speed at all in 10 metres! The landscape again was lush and green but with just a little brown creeping in. I had high hopes for seeing flamingos and rhinos today which Lake Nakuru is famous for and see them we did. The lake was grown considering over the past ten years, so much that see can see a couple of structures now underwater.
Today’s game drive was undertaken on the truck as you aren’t allowed off road in this National Park. We spend most of the day driving around the lake and the park, probably close to 7 hours. Across the day we got to see lots of buffalo, some monkeys, elands, impalas, jackals, warthogs, flamingos, white rhinos, lots of colourful birds and some animals that I’m not sure about. No lions or leopards this time.
We stopped at several points and one of this places provided us with a great view of this massive lake. Our lunch stop was nearby to a waterfall which was a great way to relax after lunch. During lunch we were told about a ranger who was killed and eaten by a lion a few years back, I think this story was to remind us when off the truck to stay close by, I think it worked.
In addition to our more formal stops we got off the truck a couple of times to trek a little close to important game, in the first instance it was the flamingos and the second time it was for the white rhino late in the day. Both times I was glad to have enclosed hiking boots on as most didn’t and got caked in mud following yesterday’s rains. We were also careful to keep the buffalos away from us as they can be dangerous, however today they were just interested in eating.
We did have one monkey that tried to get into the truck but a slap motion and loud noises from Rosa save us that particular problem of a monkey inside the truck. You do have to be very careful.
After the game drive we headed back to the city for some shopping of gifts for the orphans. Unfortunately the major shop at the centre us about to close down bankrupt so had limited supplies. I had previously picked up some pens, colouring pencils, and a large writing pad which had to do. Others had bought balls and other toys. We had been warned tonight’s meal with the orphans will be limited so some of us (Logan, Emilie, Belinda, Nick and myself) found ourselves at a KFC for a quick snack – sometimes you just have to go back to a piece of home.
Back at the camp after a quick shower and change we were briefed about the EMAO. The operator of the Zima Lodge started the orphanage about 21 years ago and they have had between 150 – 350 children at any one time. The lodge funds the orphanage. They have had 5 former orphans achieve degrees and placed 3 children into foster care. There is strict rules in dealing with the children and Government oversight. The local court system and Children’s Protection Agency places children in the orphanage for periods up to three years and after that the court must review the situation. The EMAO continues to try and locate distance relatives to take care of the children and help reintegrate them into normal society. Most of the staff at the Zima Lodge are former residents of the orphanage.
We walked over to the orphanage and started with a visit to the boys dorm. They were extremely happy and playful. Apparently they get about 4 visits per month by tour groups like ours. I had many children trying to get my attention and introducing themselves. They all wanted to show us their beds, my children all had window beds and were very proud of how they up kept their area. You had to ensure when in the dorm bed area there were multiple people there, this is for the children’s protections. So of the children are HIV positive and were abandoned on the street which is so incredibly sad.
Playtime got out of control very fast, frisbees, tennis balls, soccer balls and running children were everywhere at once. A lot of the children wanted to take photos and videos using my iPhone (they were always careful not to damage the phone even has they were jumping up and down excited). What really got them excited for 10 minutes of playing ‘Cut the Rope’.
Reluctantly we then moved onto the classrooms (empty today) and then the main hall used for meals, church services, movie nights and other activities. Here we met some of the youngest residents of the orphanage, I’m guessing around 2 years and up. This group were a mixed of outgoing and very shy but they all liked touching the white skinned visitors at least once.
At this point the girls in our tour group visited the girls dormitory (men not allowed) while the boys went off to play soccer against some very skill children. I mostly played in defence and played catch the frisbee with some of the girls who come out from their dorm as they wanted to play (unfortunately most of the balls and other toys were left in the boys dorm).
Then it was time for meal time. The children all have assigned tables. We lined up and received some vegetable soup and bread and were assigned to different tables. Several times I tried to give my bread away to the children on my table who I could see wanted a little more food but they won’t take it, I guess there is very strict rules about this. We did play ‘Cut the Rope’ for a few minutes after dinner which saw my table go from 5 children to around 16 all wanting a go.
After dinner it was time for ‘devotion’ basically a ceremony of saying thanks and saying some prayers. During some of the breaks in this ceremony the children near me wanted to watch some videos, the most popular was the videos from my trip to Antarctica, they couldn’t believe we were camping on snow 🙂
All the visitors them were asked to introduce themselves and either sing a song or tell a story, I went with an embarrassing story of how some monkeys outsmarted me which got a lot of laughs. The group them performed some Christmas songs (poorly in my case) and to finish started a locomotive train line with the children so they could depart to their dorms to go to sleep.
These children have so little and have experience such setbacks but they were both well disciplined and extremely happy. Laugher was common, there were so polite. When I handed over my expensive iPhone and later my torch they played with them but still being careful and returned them with thanks every time. I couldn’t help but compare these scenes with my own attitude to life and those around me back home. We complain when a train is late or if we can’t get the latest gadget or how our bosses don’t respect us, these children have it so much harder but value the simplest things so much better than us.
The night was a real highlight for me, making children happy and seeing such good work being done to help the vulnerable, we can be some cynical about people, I found this visit to be a spirit lifter. I wish I could have provide my items and do more, at the very least I need to value my nephews and nieces even more. Innocence needs to be protected and supported.