The first education project sponsored by the Jamin Fund was an amazing adventure to Kenya, Africa. The trip was everything we hoped it would be, and SO MUCH MORE! The trip included friends and the family of J.B. as well as staff members of Free the Children. From Nairobi we flew to the Maasai Mara region which is located in the Rift Valley of southwesten Kenya. We stayed in the beautiful Bogani Cottages that are a part of the Free the Children camp, located in a secluded untouched area.
Each day we enjoyed delicious breakfasts and dinners on a covered deck overlooking the Savannah. After breakfast we piled into Land Rovers and headed out into the surrounding valley which is inhabited by the Kipsigis people. We came to love these humble, happy people who live in ways which are primitive, peaceful, and difficult. Their world is so different from the one we know. Days were spent visiting the communities, learning about the wonderful school projects which Free the Children is spearheading in this region, and actually working on a school building for the Pimbiniet Community. Prior to our arrival, two classrooms had been completed and while we were there we helped with the progress on a third classroom.
Pimbiniet School is beautifully situated on a hill which overlooks the surrounding valley. The school teaches students in 1st through 8th grade (which is the highest grade that most students attend). The original classrooms are still being used. They're built of wood sticks and mud stuccoed walls, allowing wind and rain to intrude freely. The floors are only dirt and there is no electricity or running water. We were stunned at the complete lack of furnishings, equipment and supplies. Yet, the the teachers and students have a wonderful and optimistic outlook on their circumstances. There seems to be an incredible desire to provide education for children in the surrounding communities. The new classrooms are built of stone from the surrounding area. They have metal roofs, concrete floors and glass windows. Money from the Jamin Fund will also help purchase school desks and supplies for the classrooms.
On our final day we experienced a beautiful and touching ceremony put on by the school staff, students and families from the surrounding community. At the conclusion of the ceremony there was a dedication of the first classroom, filled with smiling, singing children. Jamin would have thought it was "totally awesome".
Our last two days in the Mara region were spent at Little Governor's Safari Camp. Each day we loaded into a Land Rover, driven by an experienced guide, and explored the beauty of the native Serengeti. The list of animals we closely encountered and photographed was beyond belief - giraffe, elephant, zebra, baboons, cheetah, wart hog, water buck, gazelle, crocodile, lion, hyena, wildebeest, cape buffalo, hippopotamus, monkeys, oryx, impala, untold species of wild birds, and many more.
All in all, it was an unforgettable and incredibly meaningful experience. We hope this will be only the first of many projects where we can do good things for people and help advance educational opportunities, in memory of J.B.