Tag Archives: east africa

Cory Harris Jnr talks about his experience with Napenda Solar Community in Kenya

Cory Harris Jnr talks about his experience with Napenda Solar Community. 

The benefits of Solar Energy are astounding. Taking the first couple of days of this project to learn how Solar Power works and why it is so beneficial to the people of East Africa – and the world – really highlighted the importance of it all for me. Thiemo spent a day teaching us the ins and outs of solar energy. To start, he said that all you really need to run a solar system is: a panel, a converter, and a battery. After you have these key items, the rest is just a simple, step-by-step installation.

Solar is important to the people of East Africa because it is sustainable. The families that Thiemo is able to give this gift to have an energy source that will not run out and eliminates a monthly electricity bill – a financial burden that many families here cannot even deal with. In turn, this allows for an easier life at an affordable price. Thiemo is an innovative man who just wants to help people out, and I am more than honored to have a gotten the chance to help out with his amazing and life-changing cause.

Working on this project has made me conscious about my own electric bill each month, and even more so the benefits that Solar Power could have on my life. Thiemo gave my group an exercise that helped us calculate how we could integrate Solar Power into our lived back at home. I personally plan on furthering my solar research to seek out concrete ways to incorporate solar power into my life.

Follow Napenda Solar Community on facebook, twitter , linkedin, and google+ or peruse Africa Expedition Support website for more information.

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Changing lives through Solar Power

Sam Cary, a student from the USA on an Adventures Cross Country Gap trip to East Africa talks about his experience working with Napenda Solar Community in Kenya.

Before going into these homes and seeing the situations that these families were in, my anticipation and excitement for installing the panels was almost unbearable. Knowing that I would be able to have an immediate impact on these families’ lives was the reason why I came to Kenya. Rafting on the Nile, a safari in the Masai Mara were both unbelievable adventures, however being able to improve the lives of people who live in the middle of such poverty, is what makes experiences like this as rewarding as they are.

When we arrived at the first house, I was shocked to see the conditions these families lived in. A family of 9, all cramped in to what seemed like no more than a 30 square foot structure with two beds, seemed impossible. Compared to the living situations of these families, extreme poverty in the western world seems luxurious. This house was crawling with all sorts of insects. They had chickens, stray cats and dogs, all running in and out of their home, bringing in all sorts of bacteria into their house.

The kitchen was unlike anything i have ever seen, I am amazed that anyone could think it would be okay to be in a kitchen like this for any amount of time. The second i walked in, I was hit with a blast of dense smoke and kerosene lamp fumes. My eyes felt like they were on fire, and I went to take a breath but my body didn’t let me, knowing that it would fill my lungs with toxic smoke. I was shocked to see that pushed up against the walls of this kitchen, were two beds where the younger kids slept. Even with all of the smoke and fumes, there were two infants sitting on the beds next to their mother who was cooking us a meal of chapati and vegetables, using no more than the light from a kerosene lamp to light her dark and smoke filled kitchen.

Before Sam and the rest of the gang installed solar power to this home kerosene lanterns were the only option for this family.

Before Sam and the rest of the gang installed solar power to this home kerosene lanterns were the only option for this family.

Once the panel was installed, and the lights and battery were all connected, we flicked the switch and pulled the light cords, lighting up what was once a dark house with an even darker kitchen. What I saw was unbelievable. In the darkness of the kitchen without the light, I couldn’t see the amount of flies that were swarming the food, and the babies’ faces.

Shortly after the light was flicked on, all of the flies started to swarm the light, getting them all close enough to the makeshift door for them to be wafted out, away from the food and the kids.

This one solar panel really did create a remarkable difference in the quality of this family’s life. Solar electricity removes the need for kerosene lamps and wood fires for light, giving the kids a chance to work on schoolwork, and for the parents to continue their crafts and professions at night. In turn, this would improve the kids performance at school, and increase the amount of money these parents will make, which will allow them to provide even more for their family.

Sam testing his handy work after installing a solar power system to a poor rural home in Kenya

Sam testing his handy work after installing a solar power system to a poor rural home in Kenya

Napenda Solar Community brings solar power to poor rural families in East Africa. An initiative that is supported by the local community, visiting tour and student groups and Africa Expedition Support.

10 Random Facts You May Not Know About East Africa

East Africa is more than just about animals, land rovers, beaches, luxury safari tents and 5pm sundowners. Here are 10 interesting facts you may not know about East Africa.

1. Freddy Mercury, from the rock band Queen, was born Farokh Bulsara on 5 September 1946 on the spice island of Zanzibar, Tanzania. His father was a civil servant for the British Government. When Freddy was 8 years old he left Zanzibar to attend school in India returning in 1962 where he stayed until he migrated with his parents to England in 1964.

2. A common misconception is Lake Victoria is the source of Victoria Falls. Lake Victoria is one of the Great African Lakes mainly in Tanzania and Uganda but also bordering Kenya. It is the source of the White Nile. The lake was named after Queen Victoria by John Speke, the great explorer, who was the first known European to discover it in 1858.

Victoria Falls borders Zimbabwe and Zambia discovered by Dr David Livingstone in November 1855, its source is the Zambezi River. He was so overwhelmed by the falls he said “It has never been seen before by European eyes, but scenes so wonderful must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight”. He named the falls Victoria Falls after Queen Victoria.

Victoria Falls

Lake Victoria borders Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya

Lake Victoria borders Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya

3. East Africa is home to 4 of the 5 fastest land animals; the cheetah, the wildebeest, the lion and the Thomson’s gazelle. The none African top 5 fastest land animal is the Pronghorn which is native to North America.

Lions can run at great speeds but only for short distances

Lions can run at great speeds but only for short distances

4. The Kanga is a large cotton cloth worn by both men and women across East and Central Africa. The patterns and colours are often bright and elaborate with the most stunning Kangas along with matching head pieces being worn at weddings and other festivities. They originated in the 19th century in Zanzibar and Mombasa.

Kanga

5. On February 6, 1952, Princess Elizabeth was staying at Treetops Hotel in Kenya when she learned about the news of her father, King George VI, death ascending her to the thrown as Queen Elizabeth.

6. In 1967 Ali Juuyawatu, a Masai warrior stumbled across a cluster of blue crystals in Northern Tanzania and showed them to Manuel De Souza who quickly applied for mining rights. These blue crystals were later called Tanzanite by Tiffany & Company who became the main distributor. Tanzanite is only found in Tanzania and is now seen as one of the most precious stones in the world .

Tanzanite is now one of the most sort after gems

Tanzanite is now one of the most sort after gems

7. Carissa, also known as the Natal Plum, is a wild berry growing all over East Africa. The small berries (the size of a large grape) are packed with vitamin C. The Masai have eaten these berries for centuries and the reason they do not suffer from scurvy despite their staple diet of meat, cow blood and milk.   It is not uncommon to see kids on their way home from school stop at a Carissa bush and pick the fruit as a snack hence Carissa is also known as the “Masai sweet”. They also make sensational jelly to accompany roast meat!

Carissa is found all over East Africa, the berries are poisonous until they turn dark purple when they make great eating!

Carissa is found all over East Africa, the berries are poisonous until they turn dark purple when they make great eating!

8. In colonial years Kenya was known as British East Africa, Tanzania was German East Africa, Malawi was Nyasaland, Zambia was Northern Rhodesia and Zimbabwe was Southern Rhodesia.

9. Lake Malawi has more fresh water fish than any other lake in the World including about 100 species of cichlids.

cichlid

10. Lake Malawi is also known as “Lake of Stars” as nicknamed by David Livingstone. He thought the light coming from the fishermens lanterns on their boats at night resembled stars in the sky.

Our heads are full of random anecdotes to entertain our clients, young and old,  on our safaris and guided self drive expeditions!

For details about our overland truck safaris and guided self drive expeditions contact Debs info@africaexpeditionsupport.com or peruse our website http://www.africaexpeditionsupport.com

Packing for your safari

So now your trip is booked, flights sorted, and jabs done it is time to think about what to pack. The biggest mistake most people make is to over pack – everything barring the kitchen sink ends up in the luggage. How many times have you been on holiday only to return home with over half your clothes untouched?

It is easy to fall into the trap of “just in case I had better take this and this and that”. At the end of the day the more you take the more you have to carry.

The key to successful packing is not brain surgery.

Keep it simple, pack what you feel comfortable wearing from your wardrobe. There is no need to run out and buy an entire new “travel” wardrobe – unless your wardrobe is full of business clothes and suits and lacks any casual wear.

Over the years I have heard people say never take jeans – they are heavy and take too long to dry. I personally always travel with jeans – they are comfortable, warm and don’t need to wash them as often as lighter clothing.   This is just my personal preference.

There are plenty of products on the market, quick dry, light material, durable, made for trekking …. And the list goes on. I personally don’t see the point in spending a fortune on “travel” clothes. I have several faithful pairs of shorts, 3/4 s and long trousers all purchased from Kmart, Target or Mr Price – cheap and cheerful. They are nothing special, but they are presentable, comfortable, don’t take that long to dry and if they are lost or destroyed I don’t care.

I have put my washing into the hotel reception or campsite only to see them a couple of hours later being bashed against rocks in between dipping and scrubbing in lakes or rivers. You definitely don’t want your $100 designer T shirt being put through this torture ……..

The only thing I did splash out on was a warm durable jacket – preferably something that is spray proof on the outside and fleece on the inside. For years I have travelled with the same faithful jacket and it was worth the investment over and over again.

So now you have decided to go through the wardrobe and take stock of what you have. How many T shirts, shorts and long trousers etc to pack?

This is personal preference and will depend on where and how long you are travelling. If you are travelling to conservative countries (East Africa for example) then packing hot pants and tank tops may not be the most appropriate clothing. You may decide to pack more long trousers rather than shorts and more long sleeve shirts rather than T shirts.

No matter whether I am leading a safari for 2 or 8 weeks or travelling back to Australia to see family and clients I always travel light. A couple of pairs of jeans, a couple pairs of shorts, 3-4 T shirts, 1-2 long sleeve shirts, 6 pairs of socks, a warm fleece and couple of changes of good clothing that can be mixed and matched for the odd dinner out or when dealing with government officials.

In terms of shoes, for years and years I have only ever travelled with 2 pairs; my trusty blundy’s (pull on work boots) and flip flops. Underwear is something I do pack a healthy supply (10-14 pairs) bearing in mind in some cultures it is not appropriate to hand in underwear for washing at hotels/campsites so I can get away with hand washing them myself every 10 days or so.

Then there is my camera, extra batteries and memory cards, laptop (this is for work purposes), mozzie spray, moisturiser, sunscreen, cap, swimmers, head torch and basic toiletries (toothpaste, brush, shampoo etc), sleeping bag, appropriate power adaptors, yellow fever certificate, passport and a basic medical kit with antibiotics, pain killers etc.

The one item I do suggest and something that is not often in the laundry cupboard is a quick dry travel towel. Actually, I travel with 2 – 1 large and 1 small for my long hair. These are invaluable as there is nothing worse than packing away a wet towel!

My advice is to keep it small and simple and if you feel comfortable in something don’t let other people tell you not to pack it. Not only do you want to have a great time on safari you also want to be comfortable.

Happy Packing

Feel free to drop Debs an email info@africaexpeditionsupport.com for more specific information depending on when and where you are travelling in Africa.

www.africaexpeditionsupport.com 

Why do Hippos yawn?

I love stories from different African countries, there are so many of them. One of my all-time favourites is the story about why hippos yawn. Thousands of years ago Hippos were land dwelling animals but the hot African sun meant they were subject to sunburn on their delicate pink ears. So they called a meeting with God.

At the meeting they asked God if they could spend their days in the cool water of rivers and ponds so they could cool their hot bodies and prevent their delicate pink ears from sunburn. God, at first, was not sure about this. He was worried that the Hippos wanted to feast on the numerous fish in the rivers and ponds. The hippos protested at this assumption.

So they decided to make a deal with God. If he would let them spend their days in the cool water they would several times a day open their mouths toward the heavens and show God they did not have any fish in their mouths.

God thought about this proposal, after some time he agreed. So the hippos entered the water and several times a day opened their mouths to show God that they did not have any fish in their mouths. And all this time you thought hippos were yawning!

Deborah Thiele                                                                                                     http://www.africaexpeditionsupport.com                                                         info@africaexpeditionsupport.com

Go Green, Go Solar ……. Napenda Solar Community

For the past few months our focus has not always been on our overland safaris and guided self drive expeditions but on Napenda Solar Community.

What is that I hear you ask?  For those who have been on a safari or expedition with Africa Expedition Support and have met Thiemo or I probably recall at least one conversation about solar power with us.  Yes, solar power, this is not a misprint.  This is a topic we are pretty passionate about, we believe in it and proved that it works time and time again.  After all we could not run our workshop or office without solar power.  You see we are based only 1 hour from Nairobi, Kenya yet we don’t have any mains power – so for us to run our business we rely on the sun – solar power.

In addition to our guided self drive expeditions we also run a number of, what are called, “service trips” for school, university and teen groups.  These are tailored trips with all the usual Africa bells and whistles (game parks, beaches etc) with service projects – projects where students have the opportunity to give something back to less fortunate communities while learning about their culture and experiencing their lives.  It is not uncommon for families and couples to also want to participate in a community service project.

Our area is pretty underdeveloped in every way, there are very few schools, dirt roads that are lucky to see a grader once a year, no electricity, no clean water and the list goes on.  Hence Napenda Solar Community is a way to bring solar power to our local community by involving students and tour groups in solar power workshops that result in solar power systems being installed by the students and tour groups in poor rural homes, schools and clinics.

teens hard at work building a solar power system

teens hard at work building a solar power system

A clear win win for all.  Let’s face it, with the depleting world resources, there is a strong focus on clean renewable energies.  Throughout the USA, Australia, UK and Europe there is a push to go green – the recent People’s Climate March was testimony to this.  In Africa there is no choice, with very limited infrastructure and high cost of mains power the most economical way to go is solar power.  Although not expensive the costs of setting up solar power even in a small home are  prohibitive especially for those living on less than USD$2 per day.

Napenda Solar Community heavily subsidise these costs enabling communities to get connected to power.  A way for tourists and student groups to experience and learn from a local Masai community, go back home with greater understanding and appreciation of renewable energies; and valuable skills to set up their own solar power system if they choose to.

Who would have thought you could come to Kenya to learn amazing new skills?

For more information on our solar power workshops check out

http://www.africaexpeditionsupport.com/napenda/solar-power-workshops.html

If you would like to add a solar power workshop to your safari or expedition email me, Debs, at info@africaexpeditionsupport.com or Anne at solar@africaexpeditionsupport.com

Don’t forget to like us on http://www.facebook.com/napendasolarcommunity (tell your friends to like us also!) The more who know about Napenda Solar Community the more poor rural communities in Kenya will benefit!

On The Move

The Great Migration

This photo was sent to me from some clients from Victoria, Australia from their recent guided self drive Kenya safari with us.  As they say a picture says a thousand words – so instead of talking about the photo I will leave you to enjoy it in peace!

For your next adventure how about a guided self drive safari or expedition in East Africa?