Richard Noble writes:
In October 2016 I had the privilege of hosting six Kenyan Christians from Nairobi spending time in Wellington. Strong friendships were forged, thus precipitating a return visit to Kenya in November 2017. Having flown to see my new friends in Nairobi, it only made sense also to visit A Rocha Kenya’s Mwamba Field Study Centre and Guesthouse at Watamu on the Indian Ocean coast.
This was a decision I did not regret. The warmth of the welcome and hospitality at Mwamba was matched only by the temperature of the ocean. To one used to the waters around Wellington, it felt more like swimming in a warm bath than the sea! I was both humbled and privileged to visit some of the local conservation projects that A Rocha Kenya is involved with: the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, where I joined A Rocha team member Kirau and local volunteers to go tree-monitoring; meeting Festus, the coordinator of ASSETS (Arabuko-Sokoke Schools Eco-Tourism Scheme), which sponsors students who undertake conservation and eco-tourism studies; and the stunning Mida Creek estuary and mangrove swamp – with an induction from expert guide Rose into the differences between white, red, black and yellow mangroves, and a canoe ride on the estuary. And, for sustenance, Alex and his team cooked up a delicious meal of freshly-caught snapper with coconut rice!
Going to Mwamba was something of a pilgrimage for me. When I was first introduced to A Rocha in New Zealand, a decade ago, the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest conservation project was highlighted as an example of the transformative care of creation that A Rocha was undertaking in diverse places around the planet. Others involved in A Rocha Aotearoa New Zealand have spent time as volunteers with A Rocha Kenya and to be able to visit and witness the way A Rocha is empowering the local community to care for the forest and marine habitats, felt like coming full circle.
A Rocha has a range of centres where visitors can experience first-hand a community involved in practical conservation work. Many New Zealanders have spent time at these centres or volunteered at other A Rocha projects. For more information on international volunteering opportunities, click here.