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21 Sep

September 2013 visit to Jambo Sana

James Barr and John Nyota visit Jambo Sana, located in the Rift Valley, in the village of Magina.

“At the end of September 2013, myself and my colleague John made a trip out to Kenya to attend a conference in Nairobi for three days, followed by a trip to visit Jambo Sana, located in the Rift Valley, in the village of Magina.

Flying out on the evening of 21st September, we were hit by some uncertainty as it was the day of the terrorist attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi. However, we didn’t want to be put off, and decided to travel and stick to our plans.

It was definitely the right decision. I was very excited to re-visit Kenya after having last been there in the Autumn of 2006, when I was working with the hotel company Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. Between 23rd and 25th September, we attended our Conference at the InterContinental Hotel in Nairobi.

On Thursday 26th September, we drove out of Nairobi for a couple of hours to the Rift Valley and arrived at Jambo Sana at about 12pm. Not long after leaving Nairobi, you notice the landscape changing and you start feeling that you are in the “real” Kenya. We stopped at a beauty spot to take some photos of the Rift Valley, with breathtaking, panoramic views. What an incredible sight and such a peaceful place.

As our car pulled up at Jambo Sana, a lot of the local children were running after the car. We had a bit of difficulty parking as a recent mudslide had destroyed some of the road surfaces and caused quite a lot of damage. We first went to say hello to John’s Mum and Dad who live nearby in the village, and we sat and had some tea with them. Then Steven Nyota, the organiser at Jambo Sana, showed us round the buildings at Jambo Sana, explaining what kind of activities take place. The children tend to gather in one main but cramped hall, but there are also some small upstairs rooms where activities such as computing, dress making, sewing and hair dressing take place.

Steven gathered about 40 children aged between 5 and 16 years into the main hall, and John and I chatted to them for about an hour, taking pictures and having a bit of fun. They sang a few songs to us in Swahili although a lot of the kids could speak very good English. After that, Steven and his colleague served the children their lunch, a kind of tasty broth, which I noticed had been cooked over a small fire. I also observed that all the kids washed their own plates after they had eaten. Very clean and tidy.

What were my impressions? It was very inspiring to see these happy, energetic and bright kids, pleased and intrigued to see some visitors. I was really moved and humbled by it and would like to do more to help them.

What can be done? Well, the infra-structure at Jambo Sana needs an uplift. The buildings could be improved, perhaps made bigger and stronger, and a bit more comfortable. The flooring and roofing needs sorting out. The kids at Jambo Sana are massively enthusiastic about music and sports, and more equipment would help. Some of them are aspiring musicians, and perhaps a mini studio for recording would be a good idea. A lot of the children are now learning to use a computer and they would benefit from more PCs and laptops. In the past we have sent them recycled ones from our company, and I could see they were making good use of them. Above all, we would like to provide support to Jambo Sana to make the community more self sufficient, giving them a structure to develop the skills and talents that they have in abundance.

The visit made a lasting impression on me and I am very glad of the opportunity to go there”.

James Barr, Business Director, TheWesley

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Jambo Sana September 2013

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