FORTY Scouts and leaders from the five Scout Districts in South West Scotland have recently returned from Kenya after a two week expedition.
The party consisted of Scouts from Annan, Ardrossan, Ayr, Beith, Dalry, Gatehouse of Fleet, Kilmarnock, Langholm, Largs, Minnigaff, Symington and Troon.
The sun was splitting when they arrived at Mombasa Airport, tired and weary after a long grueling 30 hour journey by train, bus, planes and finally the infamous Mombasa ferry when they finally arrived at their ‘campsite’ for a week – a lovely hotel nestling on the shores of the India Ocean. The Scouts were welcomed by native dancers who sung and danced for them until they were all booked in.
Travelling in kilts, the Scouts proved to be a show stopper as they passed through Nairobi air[ort with all local people and other fellow travelers coming to watch them as they transferred from one terminal to the other.
The Scouts were in Kenya to work at a small Special Need School at Makobe village in the Shimba Hills – just outside a National Park. The 40 Scouts, aged 14 to 70 travelled to and from the school each day in a convoy of minibuses and undertook five projects to improve the life of the children in the school. All the Scouts had undertaken some fund raising towards the cost of the expedition and we were kindly given some £3000 in donations towards the cost of materials and tools needed for the task. We all took two bags with us – each weighing up to 23 kilogrammes – one for our clothes, the other for materials and gifts for the school children. Kenya thrives on football and football tops and strips were taken out in great numbers.
A workshop at an orphanage in Mombasa was borrowed to prepare the timber for the desks and tables into ‘flat packs’ form. Wood had been sourced from Malawi before we arrived and was cut and planed in the workshop then drilled ready for assembly at the school. The workshop was not well endowed with tools and equipment or good electrical wiring, so it was painted internally by a team of young people and kitted out with tools taken out by the Scouts. They were lucky to have a Leader who in real life was an electrician and who made some urgent repairs to the electrical wiring and lighting.
At Makobe, the teams tackled two classrooms, painting the walls and blackboard and stenciling letters onto the walls while another team decorated the gable ends of each room with a mural picture depicting the Kenya/Scotland link and Scouting. Outside another two teams made a recreational area with seats and tables for eating in the shade out of the hot midday sun while the other team laid out football and volleyball pitches, providing posts and nets.
It was hard graft and physical work in extreme heat and humidity but all the young people threw themselves into the various projects with enthusiasm and worked extremely hard all week so that by Friday afternoon all the task were complete and they were able to relax a little and test drive the recreation area and football pitch.
Scotland played hard in the first ever international held at Makobe, however in true Scottish form they lost 7-1 to the Kenya children in the main school who took off their flip flops and played in their bare feet.
On the Saturday the school children turned out along with the Scouts for gathering and the handing over of the rooms and desk, gifts etc to the school and children and there was some Kenyan entertainment provide for the Scouts.
Having completed their targets at the School, the party split in two on the Sunday when one group when on 5 day Safari to the Tsavo East and Amboseli Game Reserves whilst the other group headed for Tanzania to climb Mont Meru, a height of 4566 metres.
The two groups came back together again six days later at Nairobi for a meal before an overnight flight back to London and home to Scotland.