Service Trip 2023: Kenya

In the early hours of Friday 30th June, 19 students and four members of staff set off for their long-awaited trip to Kenya. Ardingly’s links with Kenya go back a long way. The Langalanga Trust, founded by the late old Ardinian Colonel Henry Vialou Clark (MBE) and currently chaired by old Ardinian Geoff Nield (OBE), has maintained its good work in Kenya’s Rift Valley building schools and funding scholarships for students living in economically challenging conditions.

It was with these charitable intentions in mind that our Ardingly Sixth Formers spent two weeks working in two primary schools, Ndogo and Mwega, and visiting one Secondary School, the Woodard Langlanaga Secondary School. Teaching for the first time, and in particular to students who were largely used to communicating in Swahili, was a life-changing experience.

Ardingly students also worked alongside Kenyan teachers and the Trust’s employees improving the sites of both primary schools. For example, at Mwega, the students prepared the ground for an essential water tank for the nursery, as well as designing and painting a tree mural on the outdoor toilets. At break and lunchtime Ardingly students assisted in dishing up uji (a traditional millet porridge) to the children, a ‘Lunchbox Scheme’ that is funded annually by Ardingly College through the Langalanga Trust.

The group also took some time to visit Saidia Children’s Home and The Restart Centre in the local town of Gilgil, donating clothes, shoes, books and toys. These charities provide safe and happy homes to children who have been abandoned, trafficked and abused. Ardingly students didn’t hold back in playing with the children which were joyful experiences for all involved. The Restart Centre also dished up a traditional African meal of cooked chicken and uglai (a paste made from cornmeal) for lunch.

The trip ended with a long-anticipated visit to the Masai Mara, in which students marvelled at seeing lions, cheetahs, hyenas, warthogs, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, ostriches, giraffes and zebras. Much fun was had by exploring their ‘inner safari animal’.

What did we learn? This trip taught us to recognise the challenges that others have to endure, compared to our own lives, and to acknowledge the resilience, moral strength and humility acquired from that. We have learnt to find joy in community, family and love. And finally we have learnt to respect the environment we live in and not to take too much food on our plates.

– Mrs Taylor (Teacher of English)