Craig Burkinshaw, Audley’s founder is always keen to find and promote new responsible travel initiatives and so impressed was he with his latest find that he decided to join the charity’s Board in order to personally help out.
Me to We is a non-profit organisation which arranges trips to visit local communities around the world, including India, Ecuador and Kenya. Audley are currently the only travel company in the UK offering places on Me to We projects, allowing travellers a genuine insight into the cultures of the countries they are visiting as well as directly benefiting the local communities in these places.
Our Africa specialists have put together a brand new itinerary which combines a safari in Kenya’s Masai Mara with three days of volunteering in Bogani, a local community not far from this famous park.
Me to We works alongside the Canadian charity Free the Children, whose work includes various projects to free children from child slavery, provide education and support to their local communities.
The charity’s development model includes provision of clean water, sanitation, education, health, alternative income and agricultural education with the ultimate goal of helping the villages become fully self-sustained with an improved quality of life.
In Kenya, you can take part in a three or seven day “voluntourism” stay just outside the Masai Mara in a region known as Bogani, where Free the Children works with numerous villages which are all at different stages of development. The experience is more about education and social involvement than getting your hands dirty building schools etc. So whilst you can take part in various activities, much of the time is spent talking with the women, men and children in different villages and learning more about their lives, discovering their needs and how the development project is making a difference.
Storytelling plays a real part in your stay, with interesting speakers providing a different slant on charity work, or a Maasai askari sharing his story of how he struggled to convince the village elders to permit him to have an education. During the course of your stay you will see villages which have only recently started working with Free the Children, and those that have been working with them for many years – the difference is astonishing!
You will visit schools, have singalongs with children, learn to bead with the village’s women, collect water with the Maasai mamas, plant trees for forestry projects, and can get involved in helping add bricks to a school building, or lay foundations for a health centre. If you have particular skills which you want to make use of, for example, if you are a teacher and want to spend your time working with the schools, this is of course very much welcomed! The excursions themselves depend on the need at the time, but you can be assured that every day will be different and your experiences will be both humbling and eye-opening.
Every day is different with Me to We and your precise activities will depend on the projects being undertaken at the time. All activities will be part of a group (ranging from 10 to 40 people), accompanied by the Me to We leaders who will be on hand to introduce you to different villagers and projects. Typical daily activities include spending time with the Maasai mamas, listening to their stories and learning to make the traditional beaded jewellery, collecting water, visiting schools and playing games with the children and heading out for the afternoon with the goat herders. All will offer a unique opportunity to interact, learn, share your experiences with theirs and truly understand what life in rural Kenya is like. In the evenings, there are stories told by the Me to We volunteers or village elders, or sometimes local choirs come to perform before dinner.
Find out more about Audley’s brand new “voluntourism” itinerary in Kenya: Me to We Volunteering and the Masai Mara