Our return to the Hartebeest Campsite signalled the time for Laura to leave us in order to return to the UK in order to meet her mother, who she had not seen for a year and who was returning to the UK from New Zealand for Laura’s graduation. I bet she’s a very proud mum as Laura gained a 1st Class Honours degree! The drive to the airport was a rather subdued affair, we’d gone into this as a team of four and Laura had been a memorable member of that team. So it was with a heavy heart that we all wished her safe journey home and waved a fond farewell.
So it was that 3 of us set of for Ruiru and a meeting with the Focus Youth Initiative. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. We had originally planned a 3 day community capacity building workshop similar to the one we had run in Nairobi only using music as part of the outreach activities of FYI. This had been put on hold, and we changed our plans accordingly, due to our former UK based partner organisation’s best attempts at undermining the trip at the last minute – we recently dissolved our partnership (let’s just say due to a number of financial and ethical disagreements) – through the broadcast dispatch of a most vindictive and spurious email designed to cause maximum disruption and incite people’s most basic fears and prejudices. It was all very sad and the one cloud that hanging over what has been a very successful trip.
As it transpired we had a very interesting and productive meeting. We all made it clear that whatever came from the meeting it was not to be related to or taking the place of the previous relationship or the activities that that organisation may or may not be involved in. Any agreements between the attendees of this meeting and the other organisation would not be affected in any way by whatever was decided.
It rapidly became clear that there is a need for the kind of training that the students have been facilitating in order to support the activities of the would-be partners. It was also evidenced that a lot of talent and knowledge already exists in Kenya and that part of the emerging partnership’s remit would be to find ways of encouraging it. The training the trainers approach was embraced as an appropriate ethos for the partnership and a plan of action for future developments was drawn up. I will report more on this as matters develop. For now it is enough to say that I am very excited by the potential of this partnership. What might have been an uncomfortable meeting proved to be anything but and I believe we have a basis for trust and mutual respect which will stand us all in good stead in the coming months and years. The students were fascinated by the meeting, telling me afterwards how interesting it had been. They played an active part throughout and participated with respect, dignity and professionalism.
After the meeting we headed over to the Lucas Project, which is an orphanage project run by Focus Youth Initiative. The meeting had been chaired by Mike Asudi from Faces of Peace and he chaired it, as usual, very effectively. It was great to see Mike again, we have worked with him before on a number of occasions and look forward to continuing working with him. Kris Mbogo (my Kenyan son) from FYI came with us to the orphanage and it was not long before he had his hands on our camera and was filming (some things never change eh Kris?). The visit was a real fillip and the students particularly enjoyed themselves & the kids enjoyed the lollipops we bought. Callum did some English teaching whilst Rosie and I played with the children. All in all another really interesting and worthwhile day – we had imagined that the next few days will be more relaxed but our trip to the Maasai market in the car park of Nairobi’s Supreme Court on Saturday was to dissuade us of that fairly sharply.