Umoja Africa 2016: ‘An Adventure with Purpose’
In mid-January, Oundle’s Head of Community Action, Liz Dillarstone and Maths teacher, Nicola Guise embarked upon an ‘Adventure with Purpose’ through Africa, visiting eleven projects, most of which are already supported by International Needs UK and/or Canada, as well as enjoying luxury travel through Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and finishing at Cape Point in South Africa.
Liz commented, ‘The concept of the Umoja (meaning ‘unity’ in Swahili) journey appealed to me on a number of levels. The variety, social impact and travelling with a team of like-minded ‘umojees’ were key factors. Being given the opportunity to ‘make a difference’ and invest my time and gifts whilst embracing the spectacular scenery, cultures and wildlife that Africa offers was a huge draw. The Umoja journey is about finding significance and living rather than just leaving a legacy! The School has long established links supporting the work of International Needs which it hopes to further develop following on from the Umoja journey.”
Straight off the plane, the Umoja Africa journey began in Nairobi on 14th January with a visit to Lighthouse Ministries, an alcohol and drug rehabilitation programme in Limuru which empowers local partners to be pro-active on issues of drug and substance abuse. They train youth and children workers to recognize those struggling with drug addiction in their communities with strategies implemented to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into the community. The group met a young man called Shammath who had not only turned his life around with the help of this team, but was now introducing others who were in a similar situation.
Liz Dillarstone at GilGil Special School in Kenya
From there the group travelled by Land Rover up to Gilgil, spending two nights at Malewa Bush Camp and visiting the children at Gilgil Special School who are supported by a UK charity - the Kivuli Trust (www.kivulitrust.org). The Kivuli Trust provides hostels set up to support children with physical disabilities and/or learning difficulties. The trust helps over 100 once 'forgotten' children to access an education at GilGil Special School, which is located in the grounds of the local township school. As well as equipping these vulnerable children with skills for life, the interaction with other children seeks to encourage understanding and acceptance in the community. In advance of the trip, through Facebook, Liz had collected ‘odd’ socks from family and friends and travelled out with over 250 socks used to made sock puppets with the children. Nicola and Liz met their sponsored children and it was a privilege to laugh and share in their lives.
From Gilgil, the group drove to Mahali Mzuri (www.virginlimitededition.com/en/mahali-mzuri) where they enjoyed spectacular game drives at Richard Branson’s exclusive safari lodges. Their guide (Betty) was the first female Maasai guide and had a gift for tracking leopard enabling the group to see ‘Fig’ and her cub , not to mention elephants, zebras, giraffes, buffalo and lions. In June 2007, Richard was made a Maasai Elder, an honour bestowed upon him in acknowledgement of the prosperity he brought to the land.Sir Richard Branson has always had a personal love for Africa and has visited Kenya on multiple occasions. With this background the foundations for Mahali Mzuri were first laid in 2007, when in June of that year. Richard was made a Maasai Elder, a traditional honour the tribe chose to bestow on him in return for bringing prosperity to the land.Sir Richard Branson has always had a personal love for Africa and has visited Kenya on multiple occasions. With this background the foundations for Mahali Mzuri were first laid in 2007, when in June of that year. Richard was made a Maasai Elder, a traditional honour the tribe chose to bestow on him in return for bringing prosperity to the land.Sir Richard Branson has always had a personal love for Africa and has visited Kenya on multiple occasions. With this background the foundations for Mahali Mzuri were first laid in 2007, when in June of that year. Richard was made a Maasai Elder, a traditional honour the tribe chose to bestow on him in return for bringing prosperity to the land.
'Fig' - the leopard at Mahali Mzuri
Leaving behind the wildlife ‘adventure’ the ‘purpose’ element of the Umoja journey continued with a drive back to Nairobi and a day spent with International Needs Kenya’s Director, Jocelyn Muraya visiting projects in the slums of Kibera and Kawangware. There are approximately 2.5 million slum dwellers in about 200 settlements in Nairobi representing 60% of the Nairobi population and occupying just 6% of the land. Kibera houses about 250,000 of these people. Kibera is the biggest slum in Africa and one of the biggest in the world. International Needs works with local groups based in the slums providing education and support for adults and children, including support for the homeless.
Liz added, “There was a real sense of hope and purpose in Kibera and the infrastructure is clearly improving. The Real Hope Community Project is working with young adults helping them to find work, start businesses and find suitable housing. The group is made up of like-minded people who have themselves grown up within the slums and so can relate to those they are trying to help. International Needs is also supporting a Good News children’s club and an informal school in the slums.”
After two nights in Nairobi, the group flew to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they visited Ephata School for the Deaf and Clinique Papillion. Ephata is supported through child sponsorship and IN Canada were responsible for building the medical clinic in Lubumbashi. Umojees stayed with Rachel Newby at the missionary guest house named ‘Restawhile’. Rachel is a British midwife who left Birmingham for DRC over 30 years ago and has been responsible for delivering over 1000 babies during her time in DRC.
From Lubumbashi, Umojees took a long and bumpy nine hour drive to Solwezi where they were hosted by International Needs Zambia’s Chairman Benani Ikowa and visited the ZACTS project – a school for orphans and vulnerable children. ZACTS has seen huge development in the last few years and is embarking upon a sustainable chicken rearing enterprise to raise money for the school. ZACTS also looks to find the best use of its vast land in farming activities, concentrating mostly on cash crops and vegetables, which must support the school. Animal husbandry at the farm will also be a priority in the future.
The ‘adventure’ continued after a flight to Livingstone with two days spent visiting the Zambian and Zimbabwe sides of Victoria Falls and a river cruise on the Chobe River in Botswana. Three countries in one day!
The final destination of the journey was South Africa. A change in mode of transport was planned and the group were looking forward to two nights aboard Rovos Rail’s ‘The Pride of Africa’ – an exclusive Edwardian train ride from Pretoria to Cape Town. Before setting off an extra ‘project’ was added to the itinerary with a visit to meet Chris Bradford (a former Oundle School Yale fellow and founder of the African Leadership Academy situated in Johannesburg). ALA (www.africanleadershipacademy.org ) is a sixth form college for 200 students who are selected from across the continent and currently represent 45 African countries. It seeks to enable lasting peace and prosperity in Africa by developing and connecting the continent’s future leaders recognizing that Africa’s greatest need is ethical and entrepreneurial leadership, developing leaders who prevent wars, entrepreneurs who create jobs, and innovators that develop lasting solutions to the root causes of Africa’s problems.
Nicola commented, ‘It was exciting and uplifting to tour the ALA and join an African Studies class. The charming and gifted students, many of whom have humbling and inspiring stories, have so much optimism for the future of their continent. There is no doubt that ALA graduates will play a huge part in moving Africa forward.”
The journey finished after an extra night on board The Pride of Africa (due to problems on the track) with an overnight stay at Camps Bay, Cape Town. The group enjoyed a trip up Table Mountain, dining on the V&A Waterfront and a drive to Cape Point before flying home.
David Marshall, Executive Director of International Needs Canada concluded, “Building on the tremendous success of the inaugural journey in 2012, the 2016 Africa Umoja Journey extended and strengthened our mission to transform lives, change communities, alleviate poverty and promote social justice around the world. The journey was designed to engage and inspire people in communities around the world to embrace the idea of unity that is reflected in Umoja and to see themselves not just as members of exclusive isolated communities of narrow interests, but as committed citizens of an intimately interconnected world.
People who wish to participate in the Umoja Journey will, in addition to receiving the adventure of a lifetime, find new frontiers of personal accomplishment and gain new perspectives on matters of life, legacy and other issues of social significance.
We are pleased to announce Umoja Africa 2017: From the lush greenery of Uganda to the rugged and beautiful southern Cape, ‘the purpose’ will showcase sustainable development initiatives in Buikwee Uganda, Gil Gil and Nairobi Kenya, Lubumbashi DRC and Solwezi Zambia. Our ‘adventure’ will include the spectacular mountain gorillas of Rwanda, the magnificent Victoria Falls. We will travel from the Falls to Pretoria, South Africa aboard Rovos Rail, the world’s most luxurious train and on arrival spend three days tracking leopard and its ‘Big Five’ partners at Sir Richard Branson's private game reserve Ulusaba in the beautiful Sabi Sands. Completing our journey in the stunning city of Cape Town. Truly it will be ‘Adventure with Purpose’.”
For further information about the Umoja journey visit www.umojajourney.com
For more information on the work of International Needs Canada or if you are interested in making a donation or sponsoring a child, visit www.internationalneeds.ca
Umoja Asia 2016 – September 2016
It is not too late to sign up! The Asia journey will include visits to Bangladesh, Nepal and India. From the Pink palace of Dhaka, to a Himalayan mountain sanctuary. The historic cities of Kathhmandu and Varanasi to luxury Tiger Safari in Bandhavgarh National Park and the elegance of the Maharajas’ Express Train journey and of course the spectacular Taj Mahal.
As one of the highlights of the Asia leg of the Umoja Journey scheduled for September 2016, participants are invited to a visit Astha Guitars in Bangalore, India where ACTS Group of Institutions — a school system providing an integrated approach to learning incorporating Agriculture, Crafts, Trades and (academic) Studies to more than 14,000 underprivileged children in India — is partnering with renowned Swiss company, Brunner Guitars, to train Indian craftsmen to manufacture a new brand of premium quality guitar using unique Indian woods and forward-looking technical design strategies. Profits from the sale of Astha Guitars in Canada, the United States and Europe will support the education of orphans and vulnerable children. For more information on Astha Guitars visit www.umojajourney.com and www.asthaguitars.com .
About the Umoja Journey
To experience an Umoja Journey, participants purchase seats in a Land Rover vehicle and embark in a group on a trip through a series of planned destinations designed to reflect the Umoja tagline ‘Adventure with Purpose’. The adventure component of the journey includes visits to luxurious, exotic destinations that showcase the natural beauty of the earth. The purpose component takes participants to visit various sustainable development initiatives supported by International Needs Canada.
The Umoja Journey is organized into a series of ‘legs’ corresponding to the six continents involved — North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia.
The book, Umoja: A Journey From Success to Significance offers readers vivid details of the adventure of the 10 participants on the inaugural Umoja Journey — a 32-day Land Rover road trip from Mombasa Kenya through Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania to the Democratic Republic of the Congo — from the point of view of the only female participant on the journey, Colleen H. Cole, who co-authored the book with David Marshall. The book is available via the Umoja website atwww.umojajourney.com. Colleen also participated in the 2016 Umoja journey.
The Umoja Journey is collaborating with Thomson-Reuters — the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals — as corporate social responsibility partners in Latin America. Thomson-Reuters is supporting the establishment of an Interactive Library and community hub at Rose of Sharon — a school for vulnerable children in Barranquilla, Colombia, supported by child sponsors and donors affiliated with International Needs Canada.
Background Information on Oundle School
Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.
The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports MasterPlan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion which opened in April 2015 and new astroturfs due to be completed this year.
There are currently 1110 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 860 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day school for children aged 4 to 11.