- by Michelle (United States)
*Follow Michelle's live updates on Instagram: @michelledhernandez
*Follow YCL's live updates on Instagram: @YouthClimateLeaders
On Thursday, we traveled to Meru, Kenya to begin our immersion project with Endeleza Kenya. After a day of travel, we arrived to the International Peace Initiatives (IPI) where we were welcomed by the founder and President, Dr. Karambu Ringera, along with the children of KACH. Dr. Karambu shared her personal journey of how she built and grew the International Peace Institute, a non-profit dedicated to promoting peace and empowering women and children, and her vision for the institute's future. Our first night was a great start to our time in Meru and we all went to bed moved and inspired by Dr. Karambu's story of "helping others help themselves."
On Friday, we visited Mugae Primary School, the site of our Youth Climate Leaders project. We were quite lucky to have visited the school that day, it was the last day of classes and the students had prepared a closing ceremony for the end of the school year. We were able to join the 87 families and over 250 children in celebrating the end of the school year and watched the students perform songs, dances, and acts. After the closing ceremony, our team had a tour of the Mugae Primary School's agriculture site. Endeleza Kenya is looking for support in implementing the sustainable primary school model through agriculture production. We learned the successes and challenges Endeleza has faced in implementing their agriculture initiative and began to discuss the structure of our immersion project.
The following day we visited Endeleza Community Center, the site of a creative-arts and active learning Saturday school program in the community of Kaithe. We had a wonderful day dancing, playing, and learning with the children, teachers, and center coordinators. After a day filled with fun activities, we visited the center's farmland and gained information on its agriculture initiative and the initiative's shortcomings. In addition to assessing Endeleza Kenya's agriculture project in the Center, our group decided to create teaching material on climate change for the teachers. We wrapped up the day reflecting on our site visits and brainstorming ideas for our immersion project.
We closed our weekend hiking to a couple of waterfalls in the outskirts of Meru! Our group had a wonderful day exploring the beautiful forests of Meru along Mount Kenyatta. We were mesmerized by the region's natural beauty and literally took hundreds of pictures and videos throughout the hike. A group of us, including myself, even climbed behind the waterfall! The hike was the perfect way to connect with nature, build team spirit, and reflect on our time in Kenya thus far.