Kulalu Camp has always been actively involved in community development and conservation work. In recent years the camp has regularily suspended normal business to offer its facilities as basecamp to the international N.G.O. Friends From Ireland www.friendsfromireland.ie Friends From Ireland are a strictly not-for-profit organisation who work with African communities to develop essential educational and medical community cornerstones. Since 2012, in partnership with Kulalu Camp, the Agricultural Development Corporation, The Galana Conservancy and Wells Fargo Kenya, Friends From Ireland has completed the extension and renovation of the Galana Dispensary, the extension and renovation of the Galana Primary School and the construction of the new Galana Kindergarten. In addition conservation volunteers have conducted game counts in the Galana Conservancy and commenced a survey of its nocturnal inhabitants. If you would like to know more about volunteering in Galana please contact Friends From Ireland or The Galana Conservancy through their websites or Facebook pages or click on the links below.
In January 2015 the Galana community once again started the arduous task of making blocks to extend the primary school. FFI supplied the cement and ballast and sand was sourced locally with the support of the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC). The foundations and walls progressed well ahead of schedule and our targets were met well ahead of time. By August 2015 when I arrived ahead of the project group I was amazed to see just how prepared the Galana team were. There were no dramas to face or last minute problems and Johnson, Leonard and Lenny had absolutely everything under control. After a couple of days making final lists for materials and equipment and sourcing friendly providers willing to send their trucks on a 200km round trip into the bush, we were ready for the FFI Mob to descend upon us. Food, water and camp supplies were organised once again by the fantastic Kulalu Camp team who worked tirelessly to have everything prepared for the volunteers.
The Friends From Ireland volunteers arrived in Kenya on the 31st of August and arrived out to Galana on September 1st. After a day of travel, unloading building materials and setting up base-camp at Kulalu Camp they settled in for their first night in the bush. The project began in earnest on September 2nd. There were three separate sites within the project area, at the Dispensary, the Library and Staffroom and at the new kitchen. To begin with the three new concrete floors had to be mixed by hand for the staffroom, kitchen and library. At the Dispensary the whole building was made ready for painting and two unused rooms were prepared for the Women's Initiative Group and the installation of a sewing workshop. As the days progressed, the floors, plastering and painting teams made huge headway. Help from the community and teachers was terrific and it was tremendous to see how the last couple of years working together had created such a comfortable and experience team of varying skills and talents. As the teams entered the second week we concentrated on making furniture, storage and shelving for the new rooms. We also addressed some of the wear and tear issues at the school and managed to give all the buildings a new coat of paint. The electrics were installed which will work in tandem with the solar power system and we installed laptops in the library. In addition to the building of the new rooms the project team also donated a large number of books, sports equipment and clothing. The Dispensary also received a significant donation of medicine and children's clothes. The Women’s Initiative Group, which has just taken its first steps, are looking at training local ladies in dressmaking skills. It is a tentative start to what we hope will become a revenue source for other similar initiatives in the future.
The handover ceremony took place on the 11th of September. It was a poignant day for all concerned. The kids were all there, excited as usual, singing and causing wonderful mayhem. The usual types of people made speeches and the media were there to record it all. However at the eastern end of the school site, rising up from the bare earth stood a collection of timber posts, branches from long dead trees which only two years earlier had formed the supports for the mud walls of what was then the pitiful but much used and valued Galana Primary School.
In the twenty four month period starting September 2013 Friends From Ireland, the Galana Community and all our supporters have renovated four dilapidated classrooms and built a further four in the Primary School. We have built a new Kindergarten comprising of three classrooms and an office. We have built a staffroom to help face the huge challenges faced by the teaching staff, a traditional library to encourage further education and a sports equipment library to encourage involvement in sport. To support the ladies who feed the children on a daily basis we removed them from the horrific conditions they endured and built them, with their design and measurement advice, a new kitchen area that is well ventilated and fit for purpose.
See more photographs on our website www.friendsfromireland.ie or our Friends from Ireland Facebook Page
In addition to our main objectives at Galana FFI also had the opportunity to further support some other wonderful projects in Gede and Malindi. The Orphanage at God our Father in Gede received a large donation of educational equipment and infant clothes, Jay's Library in Gede received a large quantity of books and Eric Mwashigadi's Sports Academy initiative in Malindi received a large donation of sports equipment.
Many, many, thanks to you all. You helped us, to help this wonderful community, help themselves.
John A. Byrne
Friends From Ireland