Talek Primary School in the Masai Mara

Basecamp Explorer Kenya, the company that operates the (unbelievably beautiful) Basecamp Masai Mara safari ecolodge, is so much more than your average tourism company – and they take the concept of sustainable tourism to a whole different level. Apart from being uncompromisingly eco-friendly, their involvement with the local community is constant and extends way beyond the fact that they train and employ almost exclusively locals. Through the Basecamp Foundation, their not-for-profit organisation, they cooperate very intensely with the Masai community on a number or projects – training Masai women as solar engineers, creating and operating a self-administrating micro-finance group for local women, setting up a number of wildlife and nature conservation projects, funding a clinic and health centre in the nearby town of  Talek: these are only very few examples of the many different ways in which they make a difference in the life of the local community. One of these projects is their involvement with the local school: the truly inspiring Talek Primary School!

Eric, our very sweet Masai trainee guide, took us over to the school on our first day at the Camp (it is just across the plain from the gate of Basecamp),

and David, the charismatic headteacher, very proudly showed us around and explained how the school works.

Created with the help of the Mama Zebra Foundation, and supported mainly by the Basecamp foundation, Talek Boarding School has about 500 day scholars from the neighbouring villages, as well as around 500 boarders that live too far away to walk to school every day. We immediately fell in love with the school, the truly kind staff and of course the watoto – the kids :-) – and asked what we could do to help while we’re here. We were promptly recruited to teach english in 6th and 7th grade, were given two classes a day each, and have spent most of our mornings so far in the school, teaching,

Teaching Kids at Talek Primary School, Kenya

playing games with the children,

Hokey Cokey Talek Kenya schoolkids

and marking endless piles of homework :-)

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 With the help of Basecamp, the work done in that little school in the middle of nowhere is amazing, and it is an incredibly inspiring thing to see how much they accomplish on their very limited means.

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The children are impressively well behaved, and work so hard! All of the kids, even the smallest ones, learn and speak three languages – kiswahili, english, and their mother tongue (in this area, mainly masai). They have tons of homework, they help keep the school and their dorms clean and tidy, and they wash their uniforms themselves every day:

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They are eager to learn, curious, cheeky, but at the same time they have great respect for their teachers, and a love and appreciation for education that is very moving – they know that going to school, and especially to a school like this one, is something that will change the course of their lives.

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So they sing songs and recite poems about the importance of education, and take great pride in their school. They keep it neat and tidy, and they kept telling me, as they showed me around their dorm, how lucky they are to have the best school in the region:

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They have so little, and yet they are the lucky ones – so many children here have no access to education. The children of Talek are in the capable hands of teachers that are doing their best to keep them safe and to help them live up to their potential. With the help of foundations like Basecamp, the school has created a safe and colourful environement: it is now a shady oasis on the vast empty plains of Talek.

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Seeing the children so well looked after by the cheery staff, so contented and so playful, can make it easy to forget how precarious it all is.  The school depends entirely on donations – whether it is school supplies, books, equipment, or simply financial donations, everything is welcome, and even the smaller contribution can make a big difference in these little lives. To give you an idea of how far very little can go: 4000 Kenyan shillings, the equivalent of about 40 €, will cover the boarding fees of a child for a whole semester. For less than 100 € per year, a child can go to school. Basecamp, apart from helping keep the school going and providing furniture, supplies and equipment, offers a certain number of scholarships for children whose parents cannot afford to send them to school, and tries desperately to  make sure that all of them have access to a good education – especially girls, who are traditionally kept at home and married off at a very young age. And we can all help – by sparing only such a minimal sum (harldy more than what some of us would spend on a single meal without even thinking twice about it), a child is given a chance at a care-free childhood and better future.

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These smiling faces put us all to shame – they have so little, and yet they have so much happiness, love and pride in their hearts – let’s all help to keep it there!

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Besides, how could anyone ever say no to that face ?

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Comments

  1. Great work being done by The Basecamp Group. What a touching story this is. I wish more lodges would emulate this and make a positive difference in the lives of the local communities whom are the prime landowners within which these lodges are set up. Good work Basecamp

  2. What an inspiring place !

  3. Dear Chris and Vicky,

    It has been great having you here in Basecamp Maasai Mara. You have captured the true spirit of the school and its lovely children; i kept scrolling down and down and would have loved to continue reading……please post more.

    • Hi Grace – we’re so pleased you liked our post. Working at the school was amazing. In fact, we learnt much more from the kids than they did from us! Kenya was a truly unforgettable experience. We can’t wait to come back!

  4. Hi. We are working with some people in Talek to set up educational opportunities for young people who have never had the chance to go to school. The project is outlined in our web-site. We are working with a Hackney 6th Form college from which most of our volunteers will come. We would be happy, also , to work with Talek Primary school. I want to make a bid to the British Council for a Connecting Classrooms grant. Perhaps Talek Primary School could be our partner in this bid. The plan is to raise £1500 to cover the travel costs of a teacher from each school in the partnership to visit the other. My difficulty is in making contact with someone from Talek School. Have you got an e-mail address for the principal? Please can you pass on our contact details and let them know that we would like to be in touch. My e-mail address is dhegill@gmail.com

  5. Hello again. Just realised that I forgot to leave our web-site address. Its http://www.eachone.co.uk and the project is named Each One Teach One.
    Best regards.
    Dawn Gill

    • vicky says:

      Dear Dawn,

      thank you so much for your message – we have taken a look at your project and it is such a great thing! If only there we more initiatives like that. We will be more than happy to put you in contact with the Talek school people. They do amazing work as well, and we would be thrilled if we could send help their way. We will send you an e-mail with all the details. Greetings from sunny Greece!

  6. Dear Vicky and Chris,

    I am so heartened by the work that you are doing for Maasai families,nth rough your Basecamp lodge. Thanks to a special arrangement with Abercrombie& Kent last March, I spent a wonderful morning teaching and learning in two elementary classrooms at Talek and had a great chat with David. Back home, in a suburb of Boston, my students and I have been raising $ to buy and r view new books for Talek. NOW we are packaging them and want to be sure to mail them correctly…to the right address and with no customs charges.
    Please advise…via email. With cheer and appreciation…and mountains of snow, Mrs. Nic

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