2013 TRIP – August 4



Abbie Lavender

This morning I woke up at 3:45am!! And now I am tired haha. When we got up all I had to do was pack my sleeping bag and dirty clothes and get changed. Then we had breakfast and said goodbye to Kata and Saleem. I got so emotional and cried a little bit because I have gotten so close to them over the past 3 weeks. Kata was like my best friend and knowing I’m not going to see him again breaks my heart! He was one of the kindest and sweetest men I have ever met and I was so lucky to have met him and spent time with him! We did our special handshake and he gave me a big hug and picked me up and said he would never forget it. That made me cry even more, but he is such an amazingly hilarious person! It is like he is drunk all of the time but in the best way possible, he is just so funny and helpless, we looked after each other and made a good team! I will miss him so much but will never forget him, he will be in my heart forever! Right now I am on the 8 hour flight back to Amsterdam and I am next to Adam. He is very quiet but I think that he is tired and just wants to be home which to be fair, is the same for most of us! We have had to write letters to everyone about the trip (26 in total) and I have just finished. I can safely say my hand is very achey and sweaty! I can’t wait to read my letters but I’m even more excited to be home! I want to see everyone now but I still have a few hours on this plane, then 5 hours in the airport, then an hours flight, then an hours drive back to school, but hopefully, it will ‘fly’ by! Lots of love and I will see you all very very soon! I love you all!


Jess Taylor

Today we woke up at 4:00am! My bag was pretty much sorted so all I had to do was roll up my soaking sleeping bag and put it on the truck. It was still dark so sweeping the tent was a challenge although Becca and I kept it quite clean. We said goodbye to Salim and Kata and I cried yet again! Even Grace was crying and I could tell Jason was trying to cheer us up. It felt like I was leaving home to go home and it was really sad. I got onto the truck still crying but by the time we got to the air port I was really excited because the realisation that I would see my family today hit me. So I’m on the plane now and I’m sat next to Jonny. This flight is going much quicker than the first one and because it is lighter I am enjoying it more. I think it’s going quick because I’ve already watched the croods and a bit of safe haven and I’m talking to Jonny so the hours pass by so quickly. I actually cant wait for Amsterdam because we are going to play a game where one person goes out of the room and then when they come back they have to guess what people have said what about them. Everyone is so close now and it’s a shame it has come to an end but at the same time I cannot wait to be sleeping in my own bed. J Bye for now, see you tonight 😀

Jess xxxxxxxxxxxxx


Emily Holden

Well then how did I get here so fast, my last diary of the trip. Yesterday we went into Nairobi city centre where we went to Java coffee house for lunch, it was very nice and I had a tuna melt. After that we spent the rest of the day sorting things out ready to come home it feels so surreal and I still couldn’t believe that we have been in Africa for three weeks.

Today we got woken up at 4 o’clock which is 2 o’clock in England. We then said a very emotional bye to Saleem, Kata, Grace and Jason which was awful and I really do hope I see them again someday. We are now towards the end of the 7 hour flight from Nairobi to Amsterdam then we wait for around 5 hours until our flight back to Leeds Bradford. It should be ok though I will be able to occupy myself with McDonalds, or as Peter calls it ‘chavey chemical food’.  I have really enjoyed the whole experience in Africa and will most definitely go back at some point in my life. I am however looking forward to seeing you all and get an immediately hot shower.

Kwaheri for now, lots of love and hugs, Emily x


Final Diary Entries

(This page will be updated as and when the final diary entries are submitted – please keep logging on)


M (23)Peter

Whilst I have the privilege and ‘control’ to be able to submit the first final diary entry, mine will be short – I would not wish to steal the limelight from the pupils who shared this experience with me, as their thoughts and reflections are much more meaningful than mine. Please take time to look carefully at what they have written in their diary entries – some of their comments are quite profound, and reflect the true quality of the young people who were part of our group.

This fifth school trip to Africa was as hard and challenging to organise and deliver as the previous ones – they never get easier. However, every minute of preparation over the past two years is made worthwhile by the pupils once we are here. You can only appreciate the impact that our pupils had on the African children, teachers and families, by actually being here yourselves – and it was a pleasure to be in that position. The humility, compassion, maturity and genuine humanity that was exhibited throughout was amazing, and every parent should be as proud as I was.

I trust that the pupils’ parents feel that the experience was worthwhile, and I would hope very much that you will continue to support your sons and daughters should they wish to visit Africa again – I am sure that many of them will one day, and I hope very much that I will be there at the same time to meet up with them – that would be something really special.

To the pupils – thank you so much for putting up with me and ‘my ways’, and thank you for your trust and friendship. Don’t forget to promote The Meserani Project whenever you can, and if you can find me some more sponsors, you know what an impact this can have on a young person’s life in Africa. Oh – and don’t forget to keep in touch!

To David – thank you so much for your sacrifices throughout the trip – your warmth and personality were appreciated by the pupils so much, and your passion for Africa was there for everybody to see.

To Lisa – words cannot express how much I appreciate your tireless efforts from beginning to end. You symbolise what Africa means to me in everything that you do, and I simply could not manage without you on these trips. Don’t ever change – quite simply, the world is a better place with you around.

To Diane – my best friend and soulmate, and inspiration behind everything that I do – thank you for being just you.


T (4)James Small

Wow, so this is my final diary entry. I can’t quite believe how fast the past three weeks have gone and I feel like I could sit and write about the whole trip for hours on end. However, I’ll try and keep it as short and sweet as I possibly can.

First of all, an update on what we’ve been up to since I last wrote. After our visit to Kibera on Friday, we spent the evening at the Safari Park Hotel where we had our ‘nyama choma’ which included ostrich, camel, goat and crocodile as well as chicken, beef and pork. It was a really great way to draw the trip to a close and just enjoy being together as a group (all in our trendy trip t-shirts of course!). Yesterday was a chill out day where we spent a few hours in Nairobi city centre. After having a right debacle at the bureau de change (which actually had no change…), a few of us spent the rest of the time stuffing our faces with sandwiches, muffins and milkshakes in a local coffee shop. It’s a hard life!

Anyway, moving on! For a while now I’ve been trying to think of a way to sum up Africa 2013 and it’s proving difficult. Something I do think covers it for me takes us back to a quote BJ gave us at Meserani Snake Park: ‘Once you’ve tasted the oceans of Africa, you’ll be forever thirsty’. The satisfaction that hit me as I got off the plane this year was overwhelming, more or less proving BJ’s wise words to be true. I have no doubt that everyone who has visited Africa has a longing somewhere to come back at some point, even if it’s just for one more visit.

I’ve also got a lot of people to say thank you to so I better make a start!

Saying goodbye to the Kupenda Africa team was just as difficult as the first time around. Grace, Jason, Carter and Salim are true legends and I can’t thank them enough for all of the effort they have put in to make our three weeks in Africa the best they could be. Thank you to the culinary geniuses that are Carter and Salim for the marvellous selection of food they have cooked up for us as well as providing us with lots of laughs and memories of them both that will mean more to us than they know. Thank you to Jason for his remarkable driving as I know I would hate, hate, hate to drive in Kenya so hats off to him for getting through the towns, cities and the bush safe and sound. Thank you also for all your support, your help with my proposed trip next year and for warning me not ‘to mess about in England and hurry back home to Africa’. Finally, thank you to Grace for her help and support with next year’s proposed trip, for looking after us and, in the end, for just being Amazing Grace. Including my trip in 2011, I have spent around six weeks in Africa  and although that is quite a short amount of time, I know that I have made four firm friends in Grace, Jason, Carter and Salim. Asante sana to you all!

Another four people who each deserve a massive thank you are David, Diane, Lisa and Peter. David has always been there with his humour at the ready and it has been much needed and appreciated during some tough times! Diane has been an absolute star and has provided us with lots of laughs and support and, as always has kept Peter in check over the past three weeks (as I’ve said before, no prizes for guessing who wears the trousers in the Swan household!). Thank you to Lisa Connor for being Lisa Connor, bursting with energy and getting people back in the game when they’re having a rough day. However, no thanks for picking the world’s most annoying song for the trip playlist! What a muppet! Huge thanks to Peter Swan as I’m still amazed by the amount of work that goes into organising a trip like this and the amount of effort that he is willing to put in to make to happen. Mshauri, Africa 2013 is another job well done!

Next up (nearly there!), the trip would obviously not have happened without the 22 other pupils/students. On 13 July, I didn’t know more than half of them. On 4 August, I have 22 new or better friends than I had before and I thank them all for a fantastic few weeks – we have had a right laugh, haven’t we?! I hope you all loved every minute of it.

Finally, thank you to my mam and dad for helping me out with all sorts of things to do with the trip, supporting me at all of the different fundraising events and for simply being my parents.

Oh, I almost forgot! Thank you to Africa. Until you have spent time here you cannot fully understand the absolute magic of the place. There’s always something round the corner to surprise you and keep you on your toes, there’s a smiling face pretty much everywhere you look and there is always something to be learnt. For those who have been to Africa before, I’m sure they’ll feel that thirst BJ spoke of for a very, very long time. It’s funny, I overheard a member of our group say how it was sad that after 2 years of preparation their whole Africa experience is over. What they haven’t realised yet is the fact that their experience will continue long after we arrive back in the UK and they too will forever feel that thirst.

It’s been a cocktail of emotions, highs and lows and ups and downs but hey! I have loved being on such an adventure and wouldn’t change any of it for the world. After all, that is what life is all about.

Well, that’s Africa 2013 and all that’s left to say is…

Tutu onana!

James x

P.S. When was the last time you did something for the first time?


T (12)Jess Taylor

So this diary entry is going to be quite different to the others as I am going to reflect on the trip as a whole and talk about some of the people I have met along the way. At first, everyone was quiet and adjusting to spending all day with strangers and I found it quite hard to open up but after a few days everyone was talking to everyone and it felt like I had made so many new friends. The person that made the biggest impression on me at first was Adella because she didn’t know every single person there and yet she went over to each person and made the effort to get to know them straight away. She was even the joker of the group and everyone laughed out loud at some of the things she came out with. The next person to get a mention is Kate Smith. She is one of the most down to earth girls I have ever met and over these three weeks I have realised we have got so much in common and share the same views about most things. She gives everything a go and does her best which is what I aspire to be like when I’m her age. By week two I had cried about 5 times and I was really missing home but the people that I was spending time with were so good at making me feel better and making me forget about it. When we went to Meserani Chini and interviewed the girls it really hit home that the people over there really do live in completely different world to us and it really upset me and everyone else involved in the interviewing. another point in the trip that was quite upsetting was finding out about Regina beign  circumcised. I was so shocked and upset but then when she walked down the road in her school uniform and she looked so stunning and happy that she was finally going back to school. When we went to Kipok girls school and I met Naikabu I got quite upset because she wouldn’t look me in the eyes or even smile in the photos I was taking. She didn’t want to open up or tell me anything about her family which is understandable as I was a stranger but it changed the second time I met her. She was constantly smiling and talking about her family and asking me questions about my home and family. I was so happy that she had finally opened up and trusted me to understand her life and what she is going through. As much as I loved the safaris and giraffe sanctuary, the parts I loved most about the trip was the people. Jason, Grace, Kata and Salim will never be forgotten and I hope I will see them again one day as I learnt so much from them. The pupils from every single school we visited, even the school that we hadn’t planned to go and see. all the kids were happy and in good spirit even though they didn’t have much. Finally, the 26 new relationships I created whilst being in Africa. Best friends, sisters, brothers, and even parents. I will not forget a single person that made the trip special and one that I will never forget. Signing off for the last time, Jess xxxxxxxxx  


T (3)Emily Holden

The time I spent in Africa is most definitely something I will never forget and possibly one of the greatest experiences I will ever have. It was particularly made special by many of the people we met in Africa who were a complete inspiration and also the group of fantastic individuals we spent 3 weeks with. We had some absolutely amazing laughs, the whole experience was made 10 times better by having you all there and I already miss you all even though we’ve only been back three days.

I would like to say a massive thank you to the Kupenda Africa team who made our experience amazing. Saying goodbye to Grace and Jason at the airport was one of the hardest things, emotionally; I have ever had to do because they have taught the whole group so much and made a huge impact on our lives. I really hope that I see them again. The food during the trip was always fantastic thanks to Salim and Kata, they pulled out all the stops every evening to deliver both quality and quantity for our meal times and they always did it with a big smile. It was also brilliant to get to know all about them and their families; I will miss them a lot too.

Thanks to my mum and dad for all their support and for also being an amazing inspiration themselves J .

Finally thank you to Peter, Diane, Lisa and David without whom the trip would not be possible. You make an extraordinary difference to the lives of children in Africa and at home in England, you sacrifice a lot for the project but it is greatly appreciated by all and I have been proud to be involved.


ILChris Gibson

I cannot actually believe the trip is over. Now I think back over everything it’s made me realise the whole trip flew by and every part of it was unbelievable. It’s most defiantly a trip I could go on and on about and will continue to talk about it for the rest of my life.

Well because this is my final diary I think I could really go on forever about everything but I’ll try not to go that far. First thing I am going to say is about the people we were in Africa with and helped us. Saying bye to the people who have helped us throughout the whole trip was hard for everyone. It wasn’t easy saying bye to the Kupenda Africa team: Grace, Jason, Carter and Salim. They helped us all out throughout the whole trip and without them I think it’s alright too say that the trip wouldn’t have been the same without them. I’m going to thank Carter and Salim again for the food they cooked for us over the three weeks. The food was amazing! Also the laughs we had with them will never be forgotten. Thanks Jason for the excellent driving around Africa. I didn’t think anyone could drive like that and for keeping us safe. The driving around them Africa roads and Safaris were ridiculous and I think amazed us all. Also thanks to Grace for being there to help and support us throughout the three weeks. We couldn’t have done it without her being there and making us always laugh.

Also I’m going to mention the other 22 students who went on the trip. Most I didn’t know at the beginning but by the end of it I couldn’t have asked for any other people to go on the trip. Everyone who made the trip made it an even better trip and it really wouldn’t have been the same without them. I feel we’ve all made really good friends from the trip and came back with lots and lots of memories. All the laughs we had together were great, every single one of them and I don’t think we’ll ever forget them. I’m going to miss everyone on the trip and I really hope we all stay in touch as we’ve all made good friends from the past few weeks!

Another thing I’m going to say is again thank you to Peter, Diane, Lisa and David. The trip defiantly wouldn’t have worked without them. Thank you Peter for the amazing trip and allowing me to come on a trip that will stay with me forever. It’s unbelievable how much you put into the charity and to organising great things to make a difference to people lives in Africa and ours. Diane thank you for the great laughs you gave us all and for helping us all! Also thanks to Lisa for putting up with me in her duty group and for putting up with all of us in her group haha! Plus for being there for us when we were down and always checking up in case we weren’t okay. David, well how can we forget David? Thanks to him for the laugh he gave us all for all of his jokes he always gave us when we needed them and just the jokes all the time. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the night we all stayed in the lodge and just every funny moment of the trip. Also thanks for also being there for us when we were down too, you never gave in to finding out what was wrong and cheering us up.

Overall, I really won’t ever forget anything on this trip! It will stay with me forever, every single part of it as it really was an experience of a lifetime. I won’t forget any of the friends I made there and none of the people we met. Every memory will stay forever. So my final thank you is to Africa itself for making the trip probably the best trip I’ll ever do in my life. Already I am thinking of trying to go back so I hope to see it again soon and everything else! It’s something I’ll really miss. Everything about it!

See you soon Africa!

Chris x

L (23)Christopher Smith

Today I am travelling home (just 4000 miles away) and I do miss home a lot but I don’t want to leave Kenya this soon. It certainly does not feel like I have been away for three amazing weeks in Africa but I’m sure it has dragged for the people back at home in the UK. I am now ready though for a nice hot bath and a good cup of tea. However I will definitely miss the places that I have been to; all the safaris in the national parks, the schools I have been to and the towns such as Arusha in Tanzania and Nairobi in Kenya. I will especially miss the people who I have met along the way and became friendly with, for example my sponsored pupil, Lomayani Labarani, who is at Moita Boarding school. He is another reason I would like to visit Tanzania again, to meet up with him in person and talk about what he has been up to. I will plan to go back to Africa sometime in the future, either by myself/ with friends or on another school trip. I cannot imagine not going back to that magical place.

Throughout the trip, all of the staff have been amazing and very helpful therefore I would like to thank Peter, Diane, Lisa and David for their hard work making this trip fun and enjoyable and overall a great success.


L (20)Aaron Jardine

Wow. Since I have got home I have not shut up about talking about my amazing experience in Africa. The whole trip went so fast it was unbelievable. I did not know how much I would love Africa until I visited and it has been an experience I will never ever forget.

Well here it is, my final diary for the Africa 2013 Expedition. There is so many things which I could write about that happened on the trip but I think we would be here for a while if I was to write about everything! However, most importantly I would like to give a massive thank you to the Kupenda Africa team. Meeting them for the first time was an amazing opportunity, and throughout the course of the trip I felt like they had become a part of the group! To Carter and Salim I would like to thank them both for the amazing food in which they cooked for us for three weeks, even though I didn’t eat much for five days due to being ill, I still thought the food was amazing and they are both extremely talented men, which I am going to miss. Next I would like to say a huge thanks to Jason who drove us everywhere, the way he handled the truck really did impress me and how he kept us safe at all times. Driving on some roads was ridiculous but he still made it as smooth as possible for us passengers. Now, Grace, well Grace was like my second mother, she cared for the whole group and made sure everybody was okay, and when I was ill she cared for me making sure I was okay and making sure I was improving. The whole trip would not of been the same without these four amazing people!

I would now like to mention all of the other students who were on the trip with me. What can I say, you all made the trip fantastic. I would like the thank you all especially for my birthday and the card which you all gave me! I would also like to personally thank Adella and Amy for getting up on stage and singing me a birthday song, that truly did make my day! Thank you for all of the jokes and laugh’s we all had I would not of wanted it any other way. I would love to stay in touch with you all, it was an amazing three weeks with fantastic memories which I will never ever forget.

I would now like to thank the four adults and group leaders who were on the trip. Peter, I would like to thank you for giving me an opportunity of a life time, Africa has really given me an insight into taking things for granted. You are doing an amazing thing with the Meserani Project and I will be happy to help at any time. Diane, where do I start, I didn’t really know you at the start of the trip but as it progressed I got to know you a lot more. I would also like to thank you staying with me at the bush camp instead of going on the safari because I was ill, thank you! Lisa I would like to thank you for just being you, everyday you would make me smile somehow and you were a lovely person to be around! Also thanks for my birthday with the balloons and present! Now onto David (Big Rich) I never would of knew at the start of the trip that I would of got on with you so well. My first impressions of you were just how funny you were, you honestly are like my older twin. Thank you for all of the memories and obviously being in group 4 the best group ever!

Reflecting back on the whole trip there is nothing I would change about it. All of the brilliant new friends I made on the trip who I hope I still keep in contact with. Africa has defiantly made me a different person and made me realise how lucky I am. I will not forget the Africa 2013 Expedition ever. The memories will never leave my mind and neither will the people. Africa, that is not the last you have seen of me, I don’t know when I will be back, but I will defiantly be back!

Thank you all for everything!

Aaron (Captain Little Rich)


L (13)Sophie Burns

Well after two years of fund raising and getting sorted, the Africa experience came and gone. And to say it was simply amazing is an understatement. This trip has really changed my perspective on a lot of things and I’ve really had the time of my life. And I defiantly will return to Africa, it’s now in my blood.

Before I go into reflecting on the trip, I didn’t finish writing about Friday, so here it is. Whilst visiting St. Secilia School in Kibera slum, it was really sad at first. There was rubbish everywhere, dirty rivers, horrendous smells, but all of that went away as soon as you entered the compound of the school. It was like being in a total different place. Even though we were still in the slum, suddenly you couldn’t smell the horrible odors and there was no rubbish. Despite the school being in the condition and where it was it, it was somehow tranquil. The reason for this was the fantastic head teacher- Angeline Okumu who is an amazing woman. She was in charge of the school and told us about the stresses of feeding the children and paying the staff. I just couldn’t imagine the daily battles she must go through and how much she cares for the kids. So everything was really emotional, but then we when it took a class where students were who passed their exams and there was this mini party with a small DJ in the corner. Suddenly the mood completely changed. Everyone was dancing, singing, and the teachers –wow they can sure dance. It was so happy. It’s weird to think that in such an environment that there was so much happiness. It really made me see things differently. After dancing and carrying the (very heavy) equipment we traveled back to the Indaba campsite and got ready for evening meal at the Safari Park hotel. When traveling to the hotel and going further and further into the city it was weird how life is in Africa. You are either poor or wealthy- no in-between. It felt weird that at the beginning of the day we were in a slum where people had nothing, and now we were in a fancy hotel having a meal. But that’s just how it is. Anyway the meal was a-m-a-z-i-n-g I ate lot. Btw crocodile surprisingly tasty.

The next day it was our last day in Africa so we had a sleep in (well woke up later than usual) and went to Nairobi city centre. It was again a totally different experience. It was like being in a normal city, sky scrapers, shops, restaurants etc. it was just bizarre. But me, Emily, Chloe and James decide to go somewhere a bit nicer to eat instead of a ‘chavy’ takeaway to we went to Java cafe. On the night it was really emotional since it was our last night all together so we mainly all had our meals, sat in the bar and were saying a few good byes.

Now for reflecting…

Reflecting on the trip it is so weird to think that all of us weren’t close. I remember traveling to Africa and everyone in Amsterdam airport sitting separately in groups and no one talking much. But on Sunday it was totally different everyone was talking, no one was sitting alone or in clicks. It’s surreal how quickly we became close. I met some amazing people and made some really good friends and I’m sure everyone on the trip will do meet ups. I’d like to say thank you to everyone for making the trip what it was and creating memories that will last forever.

My favorite memory of the trip was probably meeting the amazing people like Jason, Grace, Cater, Salim, BJ. All of them were so different and achieve totally different things, but their personality and achievements really impacted me. And I don’t think they realize how much they impact people’s lives. Also of course meeting the school kids were just fantastic. When you say to people at home that you’re doing charity work in Africa, they all just think you’re giving money and that’s it. But the Meserani project is so much different than that. We went in met the kids, talked to them, went in some of their homes and helped them achieve their education. I remember Peter saying to some children that without education they can’t achieve great things. And out there it’s true without going to school and being educated most of kids would either be married off or very poor. Its education or nothing.

Now for the thank you messages. I can honestly never say thank you enough to Peter, Diane, David and Lisa. Peter without you none of this would be possible. You are such a character and have a loving heart. You really do deserve an award the amount of time, effect you put into the project. You really are role model for everyone. Diane it was such a pleasure meeting and getting to know you more, and the work you and Peter do is incredible. I’d also like to say that you are so funny and a remarkable person. David, I remember the first time I saw you I was actually scared of you. But as soon as I spoke to you and got to know you I don’t know how I ever thought that! You made the trip what it is and you are so funny and dare I say it sarcastic. Thanks for all the laughs, talks and it’s been a pleasure to get to know you. Lisa, it was so good getting to know you. You helped me so much through the highs and lows of the trip and were always there to talk to, so thank you. Finally probably some of the most remarkable people I met was Grace and Jason who were just so unique, funny and selfless and without them the trip wouldn’t have been the same. Finally Cater and Salim. I got really close to these two amazing guys. They are fantastic cooks and great people. I will never forget them and hopefully see them again.

When I was in Africa, I kept saying to myself – wow I’m in Africa and I’m doing all of these incredible things that I’d never dreamt of doing. So thanks to everyone involved, I had the time of my life and we’ll have to keep in touch.

Thanks for the memories


L (14)Sophie S.

Since visiting Africa and meeting all of the people there I feel as though my own attitude to life has changed. Seeing the people there and the struggles they were going through was upsetting but they were all able to smile and carry on, which makes me feel that whenever I face a struggle in life I should just do the same. The people there truly inspired me and hearing their stories was amazing. I am so happy that I am part of a project that can change so many peoples lives by just giving them a chance to go to school and to learn. In the future I hope that the Meserani Project can help more people and also tell the children, especially the girls of Meserani Chini Primary School, that there is hope for them and they can have more to aspire to than just getting married off. I hope that we can change the views of these girls and next time we visit their school more girls volunteer to be interviewed for the opportunity to go to secondary school. I feel like the relationships I made with people on the trip are really strong and the trip has taught me a lot about friendship and loyalty and also a lot about myself and the type of person that I am going to strive to be. I can’t believe how much time flew when we were in Africa, I have some amazing photos and memories to share with my friends and family but I wish we could have been there for longer. My favourite day by far was the day when we went to the Giraffe Sanctuary, Kibera slum and the Safari Park Hotel. The giraffe sanctuary was one of the reasons that I really wanted to go on the trip in the first place, I couldn’t wait to get kissed by a giraffe and I did it! Before arriving at Kibera, I imagined that it would be a very sad experience but it wasn’t at all, dancing with the children from St Secilia school was probably my highest point of the trip, when we left the school and looked into the slum it was a truly surreal experience as we’ve all seen so many pictures and videos of it but to see it actually right in front of me, made it real. Visiting Africa truly is the trip of a lifetime, and to anyone considering I want to say GO! Like BJ said ‘Once you taste the oceans of Africa, you will be forever thirsty.’ I know I will be back for definite! Any opportunity I get to help with the Meserani Project I will take, because I’ve seen the truly amazing work that Peter and the team do.


JA (25)Chloe Crosby.

Ok, so I’ve been home for a good few days now and I can’t stop talking or thinking about Africa and the people I met there. Visiting Africa for the second time was extremely nerve-racking, you’d have thought that I’d have felt more prepared but leaving home over 3 weeks ago was scary. I was nervous because as a group we didn’t really know each other, it took some time for us all to start talking and become one whole group rather than smaller, individual groups. However, as time went on it was clear that everyone was there for each other and we all got on really well! I’m so glad that I got to know everyone who went and have definitely made some new friends who I will be keeping in touch with. The experience wouldn’t have been the same without any of you and I’d like to say thank you to everyone who was there for me when I was home sick! I’d also like to say thank you to Grace, Jason, Carter and Saleem without these four people our trip wouldn’t be half as good! They’re all amazing people who give their all every single day. You don’t meet many people who are as kind and as genuine as these four and this definitely won’t be the last I’ll be seeing of them. There’s also another four people I will never forget, Nai, Lottie, Ma and BJ. They contribute so much to the project and are all magic people! They will forever have a place in my heart. To Peter, Lisa, Diane and Dave, thank you for everything. Without you the trip wouldn’t even go ahead never mind be as amazing as it is! You all bust a gut to make it the best 3 weeks ever; you never fail to make people smile and feel so comfortable in sometimes not very nice situations. I know we’ll always be in touch because I’ll be here to help with anything needed whenever possible! The project has made a major impact on my life, thank you for allowing me to go a second time round. The two main people I have to thank are my mammy and daddy. Without you I wouldn’t have made it on the first trip, never mind the second. I know just how lucky I am to have parents like you who continue to support me in whatever I would like to do. I love you very much! Thank you once again Africa for the unreal memories. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you again. Tutu onana. Chloe!


Abbi E.

It’s mad to think that after 2 years of preparing and fundraising for the trip it’s over already and I’m already writing my final diary. It’s all past far too quick and I would do it all tomorrow if I could. It’s been beyond amazing and I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to experience it all for myself and I’ve got memories that will last me a lifetime. Throughout my journey I’ve met some absolutely amazing people who I will never forget and will always have a place in my heart and I don’t just mean the people we met in Africa, I mean the people who I shared the experience with. I couldn’t have asked for better people to come to Africa with, as a group we got on so well and I’ve made some good friends.

 I think the person who made the biggest impression on me was probably Chloe. I knew Chloe before this trip as she was my Lanehead mentor in year 7. I’m so glad I got to experience Africa with her as well. She’s always been there for me and I would be happy if I grow up to be like her. In my eyes she made the trip and she’s amazing. Also, thanks for putting up with me on my first ever flight Chlo!!!

 I would like to thank Grace Jason Carter and Salim for everything. I found it hard and upsetting saying goodbye to them, I hope I get to meet them again one day. Grace was amazing, she’s one of those people you’ll never forget. Her smile, personality and her constant care and support just completed the group. As for Carter and Salim they’re great guys and the food was lovely. Finally Jason, you always had me laughing and thanks for driving the truck and getting us everywhere safe, I’m not quite sure how you did it, everyone seemed to drive like idiots!

 I would also like to thank Peter for making this trip happen, the amount you put into this trip and the project itself is breath taking and I’m glad I was lucky enough to be apart of it. Lisa, first of all thank you for putting up with me on the plane. I’m so glad I got to know you, you’re one of the most caring people I’ve met and you have the most positive attitude towards everything. Lastly David and Diane, I think you two were the funniest people on the trip and I won’t forget you. You were a good duty group leader Diane, even though you never seemed to be there haha!

 Of course I need to thank my parents for paying for this trip and supporting me. I’m so glad I’ve got to experience it, it’s made me realise just how lucky I actually am.

 I will never forget this, ever, and I will be defiantly coming back in the future.

Thanks for everything,

Abbi x


K- (1)Abbie Lavender

Wow! Africa is over already and I just cannot believe it! 2 whole years of preparation the excitement the nerves the fear the thrill! But worth that 2 years it was! the Africa trip was just crazy! I didn’t know what to expect but that certainly wasn’t it! I got on with everyone most of the time haha, but what can I say, it is hard to be friends with everyone all day everyday for 3 weeks, and I’m sure the other pupils would agree!!! It has been such an amazing and life changing experience that I will never be able to top! I learned so much, but most of what I did learn was from watching and talking to the African kids. They are just phenomenal people, every one of them! I absolutely HATED saying goodbye to them and leaving them in such poverty and nothingness whilst I would be going back to civilised England with clean water and real food, I felt so awful sometimes and it was horrible to see some of the conditions they think is normal and ok. That’s another reason they have all inspired me so, because they live day in day out working as hard as they do, in the conditions that they’re in, and never complain or moan, and if they did nothing would be done. meeting individuals like Saningo, Regina, the 2 Elizabeths and Nakaji was just indescribable! I will remember them and the day I met them forever! they were some of he best people I’ve ever met! Not nicest or funniest or sweetest or cleverest, just the best all round! I couldn’t fault any one of them and seeing them smile made me happier than ever, thinking back to it now even I’m tearing up just because out there in ‘the bush’ in Africa I met some truly amazing people that I could have talked with forever! Their stories, their passion for an education is just so overwhelming that it gave me a reality check. I wish that all the ungrateful and bone idle people that I know or have came across, either from school or just around places, could talk to the children that we met whilst over there, because yeah of course on Comic Relief they see the poverty and how poorly children are blah blah blah but actually going over there and meeting them and talking, asking, that is real, not an advert put together to make you cry, but real people, with real problems, with real souls. over there they appreciate every little thing which made me think of all the stubborn people in England and how little they know about the world and what goes on because boy if only they did know about the people I now do then they sure wouldn’t be half as stupid! Africa I will treasure and remember forever, the stories I have now will get told to just about everyone I know, because I think as many people as possible should know about the great people we met and maybe it will help them realise how good of a life we have. I would like to say an absolutely gigantic thank you to Peter Swan for firstly taking me to Africa, but more importantly, for being the incredible man you are! without you and your good will there would be no Meserani Project and maybe I wouldn’t be as appreciative now? Who knows? Also a big thank you to Diane, you do so much for the kids that I didn’t even know, mostly because it’s all the behind the scenes work, but gosh it sounds so hard! So thank you for that, as well as being absolutely hilarious every time you opened your mouth!!!!!! Then Lisa, thank you for being the big sister while we were there, without you I may have got malaria…no I’m kidding but you were so understanding and patient on the first day when I was taking my tablet, and by taking it everyday I felt like I was making you proud, you were funny, as always, and always made people happy when they weren’t feeling heir best! And last but not least, big man David!!! Oh Maasai how you were the best group leader ever! You were funny, caring, kind, immature…it was great! I will never forget our good times with the group, or the time I jumped off the truck onto you when you weren’t ready haha, you were so supportive and you really made my Africa experience a different one haha! so thanks again to everyone involved, it was something I will remember forever, the people the animals the views and sights, ahhh so good!


L (12)Ellie Steel

Jambo! I have been dying to say that for a long time and people actually know what I’m talking about!

After 2 years of counting down for this trip it’s crazy to think that it is all over. I keep talking about Africa to everyone I know and I can honestly say that I cannot express the magic that place has. I was very much home sick for a lot of the trip, but I still had the best experience possible. I miss it so much and I miss all the people that I have been able to meet and bond with over the three weeks. Africa is a place that not many people have the opportunity to visit, but if anyone has the opportunity you must take it! It changes the way you think and I hear myself saying “think about the people in Africa” quite a lot.

Reflecting on the start of the trip, it’s really strange thinking about how awkward it was talking to people I didn’t know, but at the end nobody was sitting alone or in friendship groups and everyone was talking to each other with no awkwardness. It is weird to think about how quickly we all became close and like a family. I have met some absolutely amazing people and created some friendships for life.

I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone for making this a trip I will never forget, for helping me through my lowest points and smiling with me through my highest. I cannot express how much it means to me and I can say that I will not forget any of you. I would also like to thank the staff on the trip, which shouldn’t really be known as the staff because they have also created some amazing friendships with us. First of all, I’d like to thank Peter for making this trip possible in the first place and for having the ambition to make the Meserani Project possible, I have seen what the project can do and I have also seen what happens to those who are unable to have an education, and the work that you do is truly inspiring. I’d also like to thank Lisa, as well as being an amazing duty group leader; you were also the shoulder I used to cry on many times. If it wasn’t for you, I don’t think that the trip would have been as amazing as it was for me. You have the biggest heart of any person I have met and I am so glad I was able to share this experience with such an amazing person! Also, thank you to David who was always there to make me laugh and smile so many times throughout the trip, you have created some amazing memories for me and I remember that you were the first person I spoke to properly on the trip because we were sat on the coach together! And, Diane, I wish that I was able to speak to you even more than I did on the trip because you are such an amazing woman and the work you do alongside Peter is remarkable, I don’t think I have met such a funny person with such a loving personality. If it wasn’t for all of the staff, this trip couldn’t not a happened and I am so grateful that it did happen.

Now, I’d like to give a huge thank you to the team at Kupenda Africa. It was an amazing opportunity to just meet all of you and I can’t object that they were a part of our little ‘Africa family’. I would like to say a massive thank you to Jason, our amazing driver and all-round amazing guy, driving around some of the place you did was insane, I don’t know how you did it and manage to keep us all alive! I really think that you should teach me how to drive, you would be 10 times better than any of the driving instructors in England. Next is Grace. Africa wouldn’t have been Africa if it wasn’t for Grace. You cared for everyone and made sure everybody was okay, you were like the mother of the group, you always had a smile on your face and was constantly asking if we were okay. Also, I forgive you for constantly calling me Jess at the beginning of the trip. I would finally like to thank Carter and Salim, the food you cooked was amazing and I really miss your soups. You are two very talented chefs, you cooked some of the best food I have ever tasted. I wish you all the best in everything you do in the future and I will never forget anything you have done.

Also, I’d like to thank my parents because I could definitely not have been able to come on the trip if it wasn’t for you both. I missed you both so much while I was gone and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to leave home again (good luck with that). Now I am able to say that I’ve been to Africa! Which not many people can say.

Meeting all of the people in Africa has been one of the greatest things I have done. Seeing their reactions to us Mzungus was honestly life changing, I never realised that they would be so amazed by us. But, I was amazed by them. The things that some children in Africa have to go through is startling, they are inspirational. One of the biggest memories of my trip is meeting the four linked pupils, they were amazing people. Ngivioni Naparana, she is honestly one of the most amazing people I have met, even when suffering with AIDS she still constantly had a smile on her face and lived everyday to the fullest, I wish I could be just like her in that aspect.

Overall, I wouldn’t change anything on this trip because everything we did was amazing. I will remember every single part of it because it holds a special place in my heart. I won’t forget any of the people that I have met on the trip! Thank you all for everything. Africa, you will hold my heart forever.

Tutu Onana, Africa!

Ellie xxxxxxxxxxxxxx


Demi & Queen ChristopherDemi

After another two solid years of preparation I can’t quite believe the trip is all over again for a second time! Our time there went too quick and I don’t think you realise how quick until you return home and reflect on all of the amazing things that we were each lucky enough to experience.

When I arrived back in Kenya three weeks ago I was reminded of how lucky I was to be back in that beautiful country and so excited to see how things had changed and hopefully moved on and to also go back to the places that I knew would be just as welcoming as last time. The last trip had such a huge impact on my life and on me as a person; how I view things; how I reacted to situations and above everything it taught me that I should be incredibly grateful for everything I have and I really wondered how this second trip could possibly impact me any more?!

But Africa never fails to impress, scare, excite and disappoint you all at the same time and in more reasons than one and I actually learnt so much more this time, some of that was because I have matured but more than anything it was to do with the people I spent the amazing three weeks with and I have a lot of thanking to do. 

I’ve met some life long friends including the fellow pupils as well as people we met along the way. One person that stands out a lot is Lottie, Lottie works at the snake park and he does an amazing job there. Peter told us that without Lottie the project would not be where it is today and that is so clear to see. He is a kind man with a relentless smile and will go out of his way to help you in any way he can. I met Lottie on the last trip but I was quiet and a lot younger then and I faded into the background when it came to speaking up and making new friends but this time I made the effort to get to know him and we spoke about his life and his children and how this compared to mine at home. If you are reading this and you ever visit the Meserani Snake park and you should find Lottie, he’s the man for every job!

Next I want to thank all of the pupils, I had the opportunity to get to know an amazing bunch of people over the last three weeks and I love more than anything how you are all unique and have totally different amazing qualities. Each of you will go so far in life because your nice and genuine and that shines above everything else, I hope we stay in touch  because I miss everyone of you already! – I Just want to say Adella I wouldn’t of made it through without you this time, we’ve been friends for as long as I remember and I know we don’t see each other often but when we do we have the best times that i will remember forever. Thank you for always being there.

Kupenda Africa you are amazing people, you yet again changed the lives of 27 young people from Middlesbrough, Grace and Jason I felt I got to know you both so much better this time and you know one day I’ll be back to see you again! Kata and Selime thank you so much for amazing food I enjoyed and eat everything. Keep working hard because that’s what you do best, you are all amazing people.

Last but definitely not least I want to thank the four amazing members of staff for every ounce of effort they put into the trip, it would not of happened without them! David, you are one in a million, and you never failed to make me smile. Thank you for treating me like an adult, and giving me responsibilities, that meant a lot. You rocked as our team leader and there was never a dull moment, your a life long friend! Diane, Your constantly thinking of others and making sure everyone is feeling okay. Thank you for being there when I felt ill and was homesick you always make me feel so much better about everything and boost my confidence. You and Adella always work as a double act and brighten up my day! Lisa there is so many aspects to your character that I envy! I watch what you do as a teacher and as a friend and it fascinates me. You have a way of communicating with people old and young that I could only ever wish to be able to do. I’ve learnt a lot from you as a person and I want you to know that I will take that with me for the rest of my life. Thank you, you are an amazing teacher. Peter, you have changed and help me mature so much as a person over the last four years and I owe you all the thanks in the world. I would not have the strong frame of mind that I do now if it wasn’t for Africa and that is all down to you! You are the most organised person I have ever met and well suited for the job that you do. You were and still are an amazing teacher and friend. Thank you for everything.

The last three weeks have been a heap of emotions all thrown into one with highs and lows and tears and smiles and it is so sad to think it is all over. However I have learnt some incredible things from some incredible people and without a doubt in the world I will return to Africa one day.

‘Once you have Tasted the Oceans of Africa, you’ll be forever thirsty’.

Demi Womack x