- Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board (HPEDSB) - http://www.hpedsb.on.ca -

Life-changing “Kenya dig it?” trip for Quinte SS students

students standing in front of a truck in Kenya
Students from Quinte Secondary School learned so much about the people and culture of Kenya during their “Kenya Dig It” trip in May 2013. They also learned about themselves by realizing they were part of something bigger than simply digging ditches and erecting wells.

Submitted by Scott Shortly, Teacher, Quinte Secondary School.

Jambo Rafikis! (Hello Friends!)

On behalf of the staff and students at Quinte Secondary School [1] who traveled to Kenya in May of this year we would like to take this opportunity and share with you a brief recap of our life changing and inspiring journey.

Every trip is important, no matter where you go or what it is you are doing. Travel shapes us in ways that aren’t always understood or even realized until long after we have returned home. But there are certain travel experiences that not only impact your life; they change the direction you head in. These adventures are rare, but when they occur they are moments to be treasured for the rest of your life. Our “voluntour” with Me to We provided us with that transformative and compelling experience.

At the beginning we were really just expecting to help work on existing school facilities such as, digging drainage ditches, and erecting walls. What we left with was much greater. As we experienced more we began to see that we were a part of something much bigger. Although it was not apparent to us at the start, we were being deeply immersed in the Kenyan and Maasai culture at every step. It was extremely exhilarating being exposed to current regional issues in real time and given the resources, guidance and inspiration to help make an immediate impact while looking towards the future.

Daily we engaged in action planning workshops that equipped us with the tools and knowledge needed to proceed with a clear direction while we were there. Our group took part in concrete learning about development, world issues, leadership, environmental conservation and biodiversity through the interactive seminars modeled by our tour facilitators and Maasia guide. It helped us to connect to the importance and challenges of long term localized strategies, while ensuring that a worldview approach was being established.

Some of the most memorable experiences we had were being able to participate in the water walks with the Mam’s, a safari expedition, Swahili lessons, and yes even Maasai weapons training. But our main focus was working on the all girl’s high school: “Oleleshwa” in the Maasai Mara region. It tested our physical aptitude and challenged us to look beyond what we saw in front of us and instead it encouraged us to focus on the change being created by the work that we were providing.

In the end “YES” it was hard work but well worth it and we knew that so many more girls would have the opportunity to get an a education in order to continue empowering their families and communities. This part of our journey left us with a true sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Although the places we visited and worked at were all truly incredible it was the Kenyan people (Maasia and Kipsiki included) that made our trip a rich and vibrant one. We were very fortunate to have met so many; the Mama’s, Maasai Warriors, School Teachers, Parents, Elders, and Building Site Organizers to name but a few. But the most compelling was our visit to an elementary school called Motony where we met children who were so incredibly passionate about their education. Meeting those young students filled us with gratitude and hope that positive change was really happening in their community. We also received the most incredible greeting any of us have ever experienced in our lives. A humbling and wonderful memory now frozen in time.

On our way home we took the time to ask ourselves “What now?” So in brief, our plan is to involve our entire school, school board and community to reach a goal of $10,000 that will afford one girl the opportunity to attend high school for four years at the school we helped to build. We believe that this is just the beginning of our sustained involvement with our new friends in the Maasai Mara and look forward to seeing this initiative and others like it endure.

Our 10 days traveling in Kenya helped encourage us to define and re-define our own values and daily actions. We came home with open minds and open hearts and now for us it is about transformation, limitless potential and continued friendships.

We would like to extend our deepest appreciation to everyone who supported us before, and during our adventure to Kenya. We extend an invitation to all of those who would like to join us as we continue this amazing journey.

Tuko Pamoja [We are together],
The “Kenya Dig It” Group

For more information, please contact:
Kerry Donnell, Communications Officer, 613-966-1170 or 1 800 267-4350, extension 2354, kdonnell@hpedsb.on.ca

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