By Jackie Jennings-Bates
Funny how things happen as a child that set the stage for later in life.
Last time, I described how my childhood influenced our later decisions to try to tackle global issues such as safe water.
When I was 11, our big family adventure was to Kenya, this time to stay with friends who worked in the agriculture business like my dad.
Africa seemed the land of opportunity back in the 1970s and in Nairobi there seemed to be many “expats” with beautiful homes, behind fences with guards and maids.
Clothes we took off the night before magically appeared the next morning immaculately laundered and whenever we came home the guard would jump up and open the gate with a smile and a salute.
It was all very strange to us, but, at 11, I didn’t think about the deeper implications. A newly independent country, yet still the elite system. Travelling back there now, I feel it is still there, although perhaps more multicultural — lots of UN vehicles in the five-star hotel car parks.
Looking back, two things seem to have followed me. I was missing time from school, so to make up for that I was assigned a project and I chose the Safari Rally — 1,000 kilometres of timed stages over rough roads in specially adapted cars.
I still have that project somewhere, apparently Ove Andersson was the winner in a Peugeot 504.
My husband has a cousin whose father was probably part of that team. If you regularly read this column, you know that I now co-drive for my husband in our Mitsubishi Evo4.
I never could have imagined that back then! I still can’t sometimes.
Second, I vividly remember the local people. The Masai are an incredible group; tall and elegant with their distinguished red robes and intricate beads.
We also drove as far North as time allowed to the Samburu and saw equally beautiful people there that I vividly remember as they were herding camels, and I don’t think I had seen a real camel before.
Fate also brought us back to the Samburu as the first charity group we connected with, called Just a Drop, were building a well project there and invited us to be part of it, to learn the ropes.
It was the children having to collect water, dodging crocodiles and elephants, that changed our concept of providing clean water to providing “safe” water.
It was an amazing adventure involving camping in elephant gully and listening to the lions, and almost bumping into Will and Kate.
Come back next time to read more about it, as part of our continued life journey in philanthropy.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.