2014 Expedition – Reviews
A sample of reviews posted by participants in the 2014 Africa Expedition:
Adam: If I am honest, Africa is not a place I would have ever thought of visiting on my own. However, when my girlfriend told me about her experiences of travelling to Kenya and Tanzania, whilst a student at Acklam Grange school, I started to gain an interest. So, when we heard about the chance to visit the countries in 2014 as part of a trip with the project, we both jumped at the chance! I will admit to feeling a little apprehensive as the departure date got closer. For me it was a trip into the unknown and was well out of my comfort zone. But I have to say, the minute I set foot in Kenya I felt the magic that had been described to me; I felt the warmth of the people and the atmosphere of the countries! Not once did I feel scared, vulnerable or in danger! Peter and Diane’s organisation was second to none. Their experience showed from the moment we arrived; their knowledge of the countries and its people, and their enthusiasm for the Project was clear to see. Grace and Jason of Kupenda Africa will also look after you greatly, filling your minds with knowledge and your stomachs with delicious food! The itinerary put together by Peter was the perfect balance between the usual ‘tourist’ attractions and being able to witness parts of Africa that the average tourist will never see! Some of the brilliant tourist experiences included: game drives in Tarangire National Park and Hells Gate National Park; walking safari’s in Crater Lake Sanctuary; visits to the Markets in Arusha to buy souvenirs; visiting the Giraffe Sanctuary and staying in various campsites. However, the most humbling experiences I have ever had include visits to Meserani Juu, Meserani Chini and Lesiraa Primary Schools! Just to see the faces of the kids as we arrived at their schools and their smiles at receiving as simple a gift as a pen or pencil was just amazing! Hearing the stories of the students at Moita boys and Kipok girls boarding schools were both heart-breaking and elating at the same time! All I can say is that if you get the opportunity to visit Africa with the Meserani Project, then do it! It will be the most rewarding thing that you will ever do! You will come back a changed person, I know that I have!
Gemma: After returning from my third visit to East Africa yesterday, I am already wishing I could be back. There are many favourite memories and best bits of the trip such as going on safari and sleeping out in the bush, but for me the one thing that sticks out is being able to integrate with the people of Africa, an opportunity that you would not get with most tour operators or overland companies. Meeting pupils that have been sponsored through the Meserani Project is something that words cannot describe. You really need to meet and communicate with these pupils to see the happiness and confidence they have due to being given the chance to gain an education and succeed in life. At times being in Africa can be hard, living in tents for two weeks is tough and not having home comforts on some days such as a hot shower and a proper toilet is something you have to get used to, (although there is always the opportunity to upgrade to hotel or lodge accommodation), but the memories and the experiences that you have totally overshadow this and it is so worth it! Africa is a place you need to see with your own eyes to appreciate the effect it has on people.
David & Julie: This trip was a wonderful opportunity for us to experience Africa and meet our sponsored children, which was indeed a privilege and a highlight of the holiday.
We were a little apprehensive of camping for so many nights but soon got used to it.
Peter and Diane and of course Grace, our tour guide, have so much knowledge about the country and culture. This enhanced our experience.
We would not hesitate so sign up for the next trip. Can’t wait!!
Richard: My first visit to Africa! I loved it! I was introduced to the Meserani Project by my partner Julie. I can’t wait to go back! The project offered a variety of activities including school visits, meeting the children, handing out educational resources like books and pens, and interviewing the pupils. I loved the safari trips, visiting the local markets, travelling to the remote parts of Meserani where you’ll never see tourists. It was Africa in it’s true glory. It was a privilege to be welcomed to a school by the pupils performing a Maasai dance! It was a very busy trip but I loved every moment of it despite being tired. We travelled in an overland truck and experiencing great views of remote Africa and the beautiful wildlife! Peter, Diane and Grace offered a library of information on African culture, practices, speaking Swahili and much more. I was apprehensive about staying in a tent for 12 days but I now miss it. We had an optional lodge stay which we took advantage of and enjoyed the comforts but pleased to be back at my tent. Our cooks Salim and Kata fed us well and offered lovely tasty meals! Every day was busy but structured, well organised and planned. There were 23 in our group and we all got on really well. The project helped us develop great teamwork, organisation, communication skills and we had fun! The school visits, sports day were certainly the highlight of our visit! Witnessing what the project did for the schools was amazing. The list of positives goes on and on…! This trip exceeded my expectations with a great package put together by Peter and Diane. I don’t think I can tailor anything like it myself. I look forward to working with the project in future and visiting Meserani!
Sarah D: After returning from Kenya and Tanzania, I can say I would most definitely visit these amazing countries again! I have been on 2 trips with the Lesiraa and Meserani Projects; in 2007 and 2014, and I would most certainly recommend anyone to join Peter and Diane on one of their trips. The most recent trip was even better than I had remembered, and has certainly been a life changing experience. The trip is guaranteed to come with many surreal moments many of which make you reflect on your life in England, help to put things into perspective and realise the things we take for granted.
Now I am home, I miss everything about it: the close proximity to elephants; kissing giraffes; the sound of hyenas in the night; the primary school children taking hold of your hand; their smiling faces as you give them a pen, their giggles as you attempt to speak in Swahili. I even miss my sleeping bag and tent; being constantly covered in dust; freezing cold showers; the numb feeling when you get deet on your lips; the smell of hand sanitizer and suncream; and competing to be the best team at washing up! However, strange those things might sound, they are all part of the experience, the things that you may be apprehensive about but the things that make you say “This is Africa!”
Peter and Diane will ensure you get the best out of your trip with an amazing itinerary where you will experience the “real” Africa. The guys from Kupenda Africa will certainly make you feel at home, with answers to all your questions and lovely food; with full English breakfasts and 3 course meals some evenings.
The best advice I can give you is to take an opportunity to visit East Africa with open arms, and make sure you take a good camera to capture every magical moment!
Julie H: Since my twenties I have longed to visit Africa with a charity that I could trust and feel safe. And one that every penny you donated went straight to helping the children of Africa. I found Peter and Diane through my niece Lalisha Ali whose DVD of their charity mission broke my heart yet truly inspired me to visit.
We had sponsored Richard Soine and I wished to meet him and visit the schools that the Meserani Project had built.
Richard showed us around his school, so proud of his belongings and school and so grateful for the chance of an education. We had a wonderful conversation and I was very impressed with his reading skills.
They have so little, yet are so grateful and happy.
The two week adventure was everything I expected it to be. Yes it was tough camping out, getting up early and visiting the schools where you would meet children that walked for miles to school sometimes with nothing to eat and a long day ahead of them. But it did not seem to bother them as they were so grateful of being given the chance to study. Something we take for granted.
The people from Kupenda Africa who work with the Meserani Project – Grace, Salim, Kata and Jason, truly help look after you – wonderful food at meal times and Grace is Amazing helping to educate the young girls who get married off as young as 13 years old! Could you imagine your family having to sell you off for a few cattle as they are so poor.
The safaris we went on where fabulous, standing feet away from giraffes, zebras and many other animals in their natural habitat was simply wonderful.
Driving from Kenya to Tanzania I used to have my head hanging out of the window capturing every moment with my camera.
Should you go – most definitely. I will be visiting again one day for sure.
Peter and Diane – thank you for all your hard work, you worked tirelessly to ensure we got the most out of our trip visiting the real Africa.
Karen M: If you’re thinking about going on the next adult trip all I can say to you is do it! Particularly if you have never been before. It was a fantastic experience. For me the highlights were meeting the children in the schools, they were so full of enthusiasm, smiling and excited to show us around, even though what they had, to us, was very little. Their hugs and smiles made the trip! Some of the children’s stories were very upsetting at times but it was amazing to see how they had bounced back.
The gorge walk was great fun, I’m not exactly the fittest person around but I managed it, everyone helped each other and the scenery was amazing, by that point we were all beginning to gel as a group too so the banter was really good as we hiked along.
The safari’s were brilliant, at times I couldn’t believe I was walking through fields with giraffe, zebra and other animals in the same way I might walk through a field of cows at home!
If you like your home comforts this trip is not for you, the roads were poor at times and we got bounced around a lot in the truck, also sleeping in a tent was not the most comfortable of experiences! BUT – I would still stay in the tents (as well as an occasional night in a hotel) if I went again because the fun and camaraderie we developed as a group was definitely another best ever experience. I met an amazing bunch of people, and made lots of new friends.
Laliesha: I have been extremely blessed to be able to visit Kenya and Tanzania twice with The Meserani Project.
These experiences have honestly changed me – they have influenced the person I am today and made me see that I would love to work in the non-profit space.
Visiting Africa with the Meserani Project is unique to any other sort of trip you could ever take to this continent.
I witnessed incredible sights at numerous safari game drives, walking among the animals at Hells Gate National Park and at Crater Lake Sanctuary is something I will never forget.
But more than that these trips gave me the rare chance to see and embrace the real Africa.
Visiting schools and meeting the children the project helps is something I was so proud to be a part of.
Yes, it’s hard and it’s emotional but it’s also so rewarding to see the smiles on the children’s faces as you take pictures and give them equipment.
Those faces will forever be embedded in my memory and this is something I wouldn’t have been able to experience without the Meserani Project.
The thing I treasure most from my time in Africa is copious amounts of inspiring people I met along the way. From Grace and the Kupenda Africa team, everyone at the Snake Park, to Nai at the Education Centre, I left Africa with what felt like extended family.
If you want to see Africa for its nature, but also for those hidden stories that are so often misrepresented and untold I would urge anyone to think about taking a trip with the project.
Karen L: Here is my brief review of the recent trip just gone
Have tried to include as much as possible without going on and on
Friday 15th August 2014 is when it all began
Itinerary packed with plenty to do, fitting it all in was the plan
2 flights it takes to Kenya, and the start of all the fun
Landing eventually in the early hours for 2 weeks in the sun
Our home for the trip, an overland truck driving from road to road
Carrying belongings and food for each stop ready to unload
Camping throughout our time, becoming an expert at putting up a tent
Although the odd luxury bed we had and a good nights sleep was spent
Two countries visited throughout the time, covering lots of miles
Kenya and Tanzania, both lots to see, waving at everyone, full of smiles
The trips arranged are optional so you can do as many as you choose
Safaris, schools and gorge walks either way you’ve nothing to lose
Meeting pupils and seeing animals are the main parts of the trip
Great Rift Valley and Crater Lake are sights you also shouldn’t skip
The expedition includes game drives both during days and nights
In National Parks, Tarangire and Hells Gate seeing some wonderful sights
A chance to see wild birds and animals in their natural home
Zebras, elephants, giraffes to name a few we were able to see them roam
Visits to Arusha and Meserani markets, bartering becomes a skill
Taking home lots of authentic African crafts, our bags they soon did fill
Lesiraa, Meserani Juu and Chinni Primary schools we also travelled to
Meeting pupils who needed sponsors, to informally interview
We went to Moita and Kipok secondary schools, with pupils doing well
Talking with sponsored boys and girls with plenty of tales to tell
Arranging a sports day for all local primary schools to take part in
All pupils trying really hard and very keen to win
Seeing beads handmade at Kazuri, by a very hardworking crew
Then onto a sanctuary for giraffes where you even kiss one or two
Days were very organised, with things to do and fill up all the space
Also well looked after by Peter, Diane, Jason, Salim, Kata and not forgetting Grace
Although friends and family were at home and obviously they were missed
It’s something I really wanted to do and was on my bucket list
As you see there’s loads packed in and a fantastic time had by all.
So get your name down for the 2016 trip and like me you’ll have a ball.
Hartlepool College of Education Review – Click on this link: Hartlepool Review-2014 visit