Our team members Uta Ferber-Loidl and Robert Loidl reporting on our visit to Kenya in February 2024

Karibu sana

Two experienced travellers to Kenya and five “newcomers” made their way to Loitokitok on 9 February 2024 – Verena, Jonathan, Elfriede, Caro, Babsi, Uta and Robert.

To borrow the words of Father Tito, our aim was to “experience the country and its people with all our senses and develop an understanding of different living situations.” We were to experience many social and cultural differences.

After travelling via Munich and Istanbul, we could already tell at Nairobi airport that we were immersing ourselves in a world that was still partly foreign to us.

After a warm welcome from Father Tito, head of YISOG, and James, responsible for communication (and ongoing entertainment) at YISOG, we were safely driven through Nairobi at night to our hotel by David, our bus driver.

After a quick rest, we were served our first Kenyan breakfast, a surprising combination of sweet potatoes, cabbage and root vegetables.

This was followed by a city tour with Father Tito through government districts, affluent neighbourhoods as well as social hotspots and past the largest slum in Africa. The day ended with a visit to a giraffe park.

The next morning, we visited two schools for children with vision impairments, where three of the children we support attend school. Supporting these children not only ensures their survival, but also gives them a sense of standing and self-efficacy.

We then continued straight on to our main destination, the rescue centre near Loitokitok. There we were given an exuberant welcome with words of greeting from YISOG and traditional Massai dances and songs in which we were invited to join in spontaneously.

“Karibu” – welcome, great hospitality and care, friendliness, humor, trust and openness accompanied us throughout the journey. We often heard the phrase: “We are a family and this is our home together.”

The Ambatana team were allowed to stay at the rescue centre and were well looked after with Kenyan food. YISOG’s caring support for the children was evident immediately. The children radiated joy and pride, as they have a secure centre of life here. We were impressed by the progress made both in terms of construction and the careful cultivation of the fields.

During the rest of our stay, we visited some of the neighbouring schools where children Ambatana supports are taught. In many conversations with school administrators and teachers, we were able to recognise their commitment. From their reports, we learnt that the work of YISOG and Ambatana guarantees regular school attendance for the children and enables educational careers. The children were delighted with our visits and the gifts we brought them.

We gained valuable impressions by visiting some families in Massailand. Here, the range of social and economic needs and thus the great importance of the rescue centre became very clear once again.

We bought our food at markets, which told us a lot about life in Kenya.

The partnership-based cooperation with YISOG was continued in many thematically well-prepared meetings.

Valuable and joyful interaction at eye level meant that we cooked together, played football and danced. Particular challenges included: “How do you cook 6 kilograms of spaghetti on a wood-fired stove?” and “How will the pudding work out today?” To our surprise, the children were just as surprised about our sweet potato dinner as we had been about our sweet potato breakfast the first morning. Sometimes the way to compare cultures is to compare food.

Finally, a day in Amboseli National Park showed us some of Kenya’s flora and fauna.

The experiences of this trip made a lasting impression on us and have motivated us to continue Ambatana’s work beyond its 10th anniversary.