8 young Scouts from Byfield, UK help improve life conditions at the Kibera Scout Office
Two young girls and six young boys of the 1st Byfield Scout Group, UK, finally landed in Nairobi on October 19th 2018 to carry out a humanitarian mission in cooperation with the Kibera Open Scout Group. The project was initiated just over a year ago, after Sally Huband and Andy McLean, Scout Leaders, explained to their Scouts how Kibera children conceive balls out of plastic bags and newspapers in order to play football. They explain: “Our Scouts are huge football fans. They were so affected by the story that they decided they would help the Kibera children in any possible way. Thus, we got into contact with the Kibera Scouts and Solomon, Rowallan Scout Camp manager and Scout Leader of Kibera Open Scout Group, to know what contribution we could make.”
“Our Scouting is all about adventure and challenge. What could be more adventurous than bringing a group of Scouts from rural UK to Kibera and working in a slum outside Nairobi, three thousand miles away? There can be nothing more adventurous than that for us,” adds Sally. As soon as the project was set, the determined Scouts had to face the challenge of raising enough fund to pay for their transport to Nairobi as well as for all the equipment requested by the Kibera Scouts. Therefore, they created and hosted several events such as garage sells, cake sells, quizzes, sweepstakes, among other activities. They also received help from generous members of their local community, businesses and parents who wished to congratulate the initiative.
On the first weekend of their stay at Rowallan National Scout Camp, the eight Scouts participated in the JOTA-JOTI, the largest Scouting event in the world, which connects all Scouts annually through technological communication tools. Thanks to the online portal, the Scouts were able to discuss with children from Australia, the United States of America, Côte d’Ivoire, and they also greeted compatriots. “It is very interesting to talk and meet new people from miles away. We met a girl that was in Australia, which for England is like on the other side of the world, so amazing,” says Jack, 13 years old.
During the week of October 22, the 1st Byfield Group joined the Kibera Scouts at the Three Bells Primary School to start off their cleaning and gardening project. Firstly, they repainted the inside and outside walls of the Kibera Scouts Office with the Kenyan Scouts colours, green and white. They also cleaned up the storage space by removing all equipment, tents and writing desks, that were no longer of any use. To replace the old kits, the 1st Byfield Scouts brought from England some camping equipment including eight new tents, several wind-up LED lanterns and torches. As part of the gardening project, they bought on site soil and manure to build raised vegetable beds, and tools so that the Scouts can maintain and care for the school garden after the 1st Byfield Group leaves. Seeds, fruit trees, rosemary and lemongrass were planted to generate produce for the Kibera Scouts. “The Three Bells School garden is a beautiful place, probably one of the only open green spaces in Kibera, tells Sally. It could be community-owned and families would go there to relax and enjoy picnics together.” A Christmas tree was also planted, so that the Kibera children can decorate it as Christmas celebrations come.
Besides the core mission, the UK Scouts took part in many fun activities, including sugar cane tasting, a city tour, a bonfire and a football tournament against the talented Kibera Scouts: “We had brought a trophy and medals, and it was really fun because the Kibera Scouts absolutely thrashed us!” Jack laughs. This trip to Kenya has indeed put a lot of things into perspective among the UK children, as Charlie, 11 years old, expresses: “It inspired me a lot to go to Kenya. For instance, I went to a party with the Kibera Scouts, and even though they have tin roofs, even though they are really poor, they are still enjoying themselves. In England, we have so much stuff, yet when you walk into town, everyone seems so miserable.”
On Saturday 27th October, the 1st Byfield group will be leaving Nairobi towards Nyeri, where they intend to visit Robert and Olave Baden-Powell’s grave.