A Week In Ndhiwa
We continue to follow the adventure of our 2022 Mount Kenya climbers as they travel over to Ndhiwa! This blog provides an excellent example of how a week can be spent in Ndhiwa – staying at Karibuni Eco-Cottages, learning about Twende Pamoja’s projects and meeting the friendly staff, peer mentors and children in our partner schools. It also highlights all the fun that can be had exploring Homa Bay including tourist resorts, boat trips and bonfire parties! If reading our blog sparks your interest in visiting Karibuni (which it almost certainly will) then please get in touch with us and we will happily help facilitate your visit. Now, back to our group’s adventure…
After having climbed Mount Kenya, our group of 8 embarked on the long journey west bound across Kenya towards Homa Bay. Exhausted from our hike, we managed to nap for most of the way, or sat watching the world around us from out of our windows. It was fascinating to see the buildings, markets, and homes all perched on the edge of the main road – not to mention the array of wildlife wandering alongside the cars entirely unfazed by the traffic.
As we moved further away from the hustle and bustle and deeper into rural Kenya, the journey became increasingly bumpy. After some impressive vehicle navigation from our driver Jeff, we arrived at Karibuni cottages just after sundown.
Welcome to Ndiwha
We were welcomed by the friendly team at Karibuni, including our charismatic host Eric, who instantly lifted our spirits after a long day of travel. The grounds at Karibuni were kept in immaculate condition, with beautiful gardens and outdoor seating areas. The lovely setting combined with our wonderfully welcoming hosts meant we instantly felt at home.
We dumped our bags in our rooms and raced each other to get first in line at the shower block – this would be our first one since our climb began. Feeling refreshed and relaxed, we then had a full introduction to the rest of the team at Karibuni. We were fed a wonderful 3 course meal by Salome and Lillian and then headed to bed under our mosquito nets for a much-needed rest!
On our second day, after a slow wake up, we were offered a selection of breakfast options including cereal, french toast, omelette, and pancakes with freshly sourced honey from Karibuni’s bee hives. We took the morning to settle in. Francis and Sam gave us an interesting and informative tour of Karibuni’s grounds, including the eco-demonstration farm where we learnt about their sustainable way of living and how Twende Pamoja help to teach the community about crop growth and agribusiness.
This was followed by a walk around Ndiwha, where we were able to familiarise ourselves with the small village and took a visit to the Twende Pamoja offices. Here we met Bonface and some of the peer mentors, who taught us more about Twende Pamoja’s amazing work and their support system for young girls. We were given a tour of the learning centre, before walking back towards Karibuni through a nearby school, where we were greeted by some lovely, excited students. Once back at Karibuni we spent our evening chatting, reading, playing card games and chess and enjoying a Tusker beer or some homemade Roselle juice. This is how we would spend most of our evenings at Karibuni – relaxing and taking in the beautiful rural surroundings.
Following dinner, our host Eric delivered a workshop on Luo culture, and told us many truly remarkable and humbling stories of his past, including how Twende Pamoja and Team Kenya’s support had helped transform his life.
Our time in Ndiwha was perfectly balanced between learning about Twende Pamoja’s work and meeting those involved in its projects, while also having time to relax and explore the area. Our first day-trip was to Rusinga Island. The drive to Rusinga Island hotel was definitely interesting, amounting to possibly one of our bumpiest journeys of the trip. The road was more like a rock scramble, but our driver Jeff handled it like a pro, ending the journey with all van wheels intact. Impressive! We arrived at the hotel, which was positioned directly on Lake Victoria, boasting beautiful views.
We had the whole place to ourselves, and so laid on the deck sunbathing with the lake beneath us. We treated ourselves to a couple of Tuskers and really took the time to enjoy the views and the peace and quiet. This was followed by a meal of freshly caught fish in the hotel restaurant, set over the lake. Paradise.
Our next day was spent visiting some of Twende Pamoja’s partner schools. We were taken to the nearby St Phillips school and were introduced to head teacher Maxwell and the rest of the staff. Maxwell gave us a tour around the school grounds and told us about the variety of crops they grew there which helped supply the school children’s meals. He also showed us how Twende Pamoja and Team Kenya’s support had made an impact in their classrooms, supplying desks and concrete flooring.
Some of the children eagerly presented one of their class projects where they had constructed a chicken coop and learned how to raise a chicken to produce eggs. It was fascinating to see their creativity and skill at such a young age, and to compare how different a school project here in Kenya was to the ones we did back home.
The children were an absolute delight, singing and dancing with impressive rhythm throughout their break-time. We were then treated to a demonstration by the school scouts, executed with military precision. The visit ended with a Happy Birthday song performed by the whole school to one of our team members, Emily. It was so wonderful to see Maxwell’s school and how happy the children seemed under his guidance. The visit left us all deeply heart-warmed and humbled.
Another day trip offered while in Ndiwha is a boat trip across Lake Victoria to see some local wildlife. We were driven down to the dock at Homa Bay where we walked through the markets and took in the hustle and bustle of the larger town. At the dock we boarded a traditional wooden Dhow boat and set off across the lake.
Lake Victoria seemed to stretch out endlessly, as if it were the sea. We passed other traditional sailing boats and beautiful, lush green islands. After sailing for about an hour onto the Lake we landed at a small island, inhabited by fishermen.
The island was known for having hippos and crocodiles; however we did not manage to see any this time. That’s the thing about hippos and crocodiles – you cannot make them play by your rules! Despite our lack of animal sightings on this island, we were able to spot a few monkeys and beautiful birds around the caves we passed on the way back. After we landed back at Homa Bay dock, we strolled up to the tourist hotel. Here we sat in their large garden overlooking the lake eating a lunch of pasta, burgers and chips. A true tourists meal!
Part of our education on Twende Pamoja and the work they do for vulnerable girls in Ndiwha was visiting the home of one of their supported girls, who will remain anonymous for this blog. Peer mentor Ruth arranged our visit with the girl and her family. We were taken to her home which was a traditional Luo hut, with walls of mud and a thatched roof. Her family introduced themselves to us and described their living situation. Their hut comprised of a single room with a small divide between the bedroom and main area. The girl lives in this hut with her grandma, mother, 3 younger siblings, and an older boy her family had taken in and cared for. Sadly, the mother and grandma had both become blind, and therefore much of the housework was left to their daughter. Without sight, her mother and grandmother were unable to work meaning the family’s income was very limited. They were struggling to manage. Thankfully, Team Kenya and Twende Pamoja’s support provided the girl with the materials she needed to attend school and therefore she was able to receive an education alongside other out-of-school support from Twende Pamoja. The home visit was certainly an emotional experience for our team, revealing the absolute importance of Team Kenya and Twende Pamoja’s work. It was hard to imagine where this family would be without it. We left the home visit even more determined to help Twende Pamoja deliver the support that is needed for their most vulnerable girls.
On our final day in Ndiwha, we planned a farewell party with everyone we had met during our stay. All staff at Karibuni cottages were invited, our driver Jeff, Twende Pamoja staff, board members and peer mentors, previous sponsors, and long-time friends of Twende Pamoja and Team Kenya. A mountain of traditional Kenyan food was prepared by the wonderful chefs at Karibuni including plantain curry, local fish, ugali, samosas, and sweet mandazis for dessert! Following the buffet, we chatted around the bonfire and reflected on our time there – what we had learned, the amazing people we had met, and the things we would miss most.
The night soon became filled with dancing around the bonfire, allowing us to learn some new Kenyan dances… unfortunately, the best English dance we had to offer was the Hockey Cockey! Our final night was fun yet emotional, we’d had such an amazing trip and had learned and experienced so much. We said our goodbyes but were sure we’d be back in Karibuni to see everyone again soon!