Our next trip was to a project called Wildlife Works – which is a REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) project about 6 hours southeast of Nairobi. Jen and Judi were invited by an employee based in San Francisco and jumped at the opportunity, since the project sounded interesting and relevant to their work with Zawadisha. In sustainability courses everywhere, the connection between increasing wealth and development and environmental destruction cannot be ignored. Wildlife Works seeks to protect forests and wildlife habitat and provide jobs and an economic stimulus for the local community. Therefore, by protecting lands they’re not pushing destruction elsewhere. We met with Cara, a young Brit, who gave us a tour. It seemed a lovely place to work every day. We walked through a screen printing area, a fabric scrap recycling center, 3 clothing production facilities that were buzzing with activity, an organic farm, a school for children of employees, and the lunch area for all employees. We had lunch, played football with some of the employees, and then were driven in an awesome safari vehicle to look for elephants. Quite a few elephants were living on the protected lands, but unfortunately we didn’t spot any. We only saw a few water buffalo and some dick dicks. Yep, that is a real animal’s name. They look like mini-deer.
While we visited Wildlife Works, we stayed at bandas (small huts) run by Mama Mercy, who was an early adopter of the environmental movement in Kenya. She had an amazing pack of African dogs living at her property as well as chickens and rabbits. We each had an individual banda with a bed, bug net, and bathroom. There were no showers though and we had to take traditional bucket showers where we were given warm water and had to shower ourselves with it. The highlight of staying with Mama Mercy was the food. Her traditional Kenyan coastal spread was delicious – for dinner we had beans, potatoes, chapatti, spicy salad, and tangawizi tea (ginger tea) and for breakfast we had omelets and andazis (Kenyan donuts). We stayed two nights and then Dan and I decided to make a quick escape to the coast, which we learned was only 2 hours away.