We receive the final blog from an unforgettable trip as National Citizen Service Co-Ordinator Vicki Burton signs-off from Kenya.
Jambo! Our departure day had finally arrived and it was definitely a day of mixed emotions. We were treated to a lie-in and had breakfast at 9am ready to leave at 10am. Chris and I travelled in one bus with Ken, while Craig took the rest of the group in the other bus with Fred and Leah, as we set off on the long drive to Nairobi.
After about an hour and a half we stopped at Buffalo Mall for a drink and a toilet break then drove for another hour or so and had another stop at the Rift Valley Viewpoint that we had previously been to on our first day. After half an hour we stopped at another mall for lunch. Everyone chose between Pizza Hut and KFC.
After lunch we began the drive to the Giraffe Sanctuary just outside Nairobi. On the way we drove past the second largest slum in Kenya. It was quite surreal as in the background we could see the most incredible buildings, showing the stark difference between the rich and the poor in Kenya. Ken also pointed out some apartments and explained that these had been built by the government to get people out of the slums, but those people actually chose to stay put rather than live in the apartments.
Ken told us another story that shocked us; when it gets below 15 degrees Celsius, the schools in Kenya often close and people are advised to stay indoors. We would never leave the house if that applied in England!
We arrived at the Giraffe Sanctuary and had lots of photographs taken feeding the giraffes. We even got a photograph of Ellie L being head butted by one of them! The park attendant showed us how to give the giraffes kisses; that was interesting!
We got dropped off at the airport six hours before our midnight flight as it’s not really advised to drive in the dark, so after some emotional goodbyes with Leah, Fred and Ken, we sat in Java Cafe and reminisced on our trip to pass some time away.
At around 8pm we headed to check-in and dropped our luggage off. Everyone always says “there’s always one” and this time it was Angie and Louis, as they had to unpack and repack their cases when they were told they were too heavy!
Going through security, Paige and Ellie H were randomly selected for drugs testing on their bags; I always thought they looked a bit dodgy!
Once we got through to the departure lounge everyone had chance to get something to eat and look around the duty free shop.
We boarded the plane to Amsterdam and most of the group slept for the majority of the journey before waking up for some breakfast before landing. We landed in Amsterdam Schiphol and had just enough time for a McDonalds breakfast (who knew they didn’t do hash browns!?) after we passed through EU security. All went well except for Craig who had opened his sealed duty-free bag and therefore had his Sambuca taken off him. It’s his own fault for buying such a terrible drink!
We boarded the final flight to Newcastle and almost lost Angie who was off buying cheese in the airport! But thankfully we landed back in Newcastle at 8:15am, 26 hours after we began our journey home, with the same number of people we left with, all limbs intact and with all of our luggage, although finding Chris’ camouflage case did prove difficult, and somehow Ellie H’s hand luggage was going round the luggage carousel! And to top off a long but hilarious journey, Paige’s suitcase broke and she was left with only a handle, which now resembled Chris’ camouflage suitcase!
So that’s it, we’ve reached the end of our first HUCSF trip abroad. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading the blogs and seeing what we’ve been up to. So before I sign off until next year’s trip (pretty please Nobbsy?!) there are a few little thank yous I’d like to say.
First of all thank you to Keith Nobbs, aka the boss, for allowing us to try something totally new for HUCSF, enabling us to provide this opportunity for our NCS graduates.
Secondly to the English team at African Adventures and in particular Steph, who has supported us all incredibly throughout the preparation for our trip.
Next, I’d like to thank all of the local businesses who supported our students in their fundraising efforts, plus Carl and the team at Motif8 for rushing around and making sure their sponsor logos were printed on our trip t-shirts in time!
Moving on to the trip itself, I’d like to say a huge thank you to the Kenyan team at African Adventures; Leah, Fred, Ben, C-Dog, Sharon and Ken. You made us feel safe, special and happy for the whole of our trip and, for that, we cannot thank you enough.
The next thank you must go to Susannah, Edith and the staff at Jubilee Academy. Their love and passion to educate the local children shines through every day and for them to allow us to come into their school and feel welcome and empowered was really special to us.
Also a special thank you to Gilbert, not just for teaching us how to mix cement the Kenyan way, but for teaching us how to do the very best with what you have and how to work hard no matter what struggles you may face.
Finally as we arrive home with everyone in one piece and with the same number of students we left with (I think?) I must say a big thank you to our parents and carers for their support and encouragement to ensure their child could come on the trip. Thank you for trusting me with the most important people in your life and allowing me to share this adventure with them.
And last, but certainly not least, thank you to the group. You guys are truly amazing and words cannot express how grateful and proud I am of you all for your hard work, from fundraising through to landing back at Newcastle Airport. The impact you have had on the people you met is immeasurable and for that I am truly thankful. Your conduct has ensured that the trip will be an option again for next year’s NCS graduates (pretty please Nobbsy?!) and hopefully you will all treasure the memories of the trip forever, as I know I will.
For the last time, kwaheri!