It was Laurence’s birthday on Wednesday, we started the day with scrambled egg and beans on toast, then spent the day editing films we had created during the project. For dinner Lucy and Emily made ‘Laurence’s Birthday Curry’, this was really yummy, see the recipe below!
Laurence’s Birthday Curry
- whole cabbage
- 3 red onions
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 250g split red lentils
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp mustard powder
- 4 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp salt
- Cook the lentils with the tomatoes and enough water to cover the lentils.
- Fry the cabbage with spices and onions for 5 minutes.
- Add the lentil mixture and cabbage mixture together and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Serve with rice and flatbread.
We couldn’t bear to eat the egg mayonnaise we had prepared for lunch, which was then left in the car all day. None of us were up for cooking either, instead we ate dinner at the restaurant opposite our cottage.
The food is really cheap and we even saved money by bringing our own beers. Surprisingly they had a few Kenyan dishes on the menu (it’s hard to find places that sell Kenyan food, its mostly pizza, pasta dishes, burgers and curry). I had tuna steak with masala chips and it was one of my favourites meals so far on this trip. This was only 600 Kenyan shilling (£4.29). I had never eaten tuna steaks before, it was very meaty so it was a struggle to finish it all. The masala chips were a lot spicier than the previous ones I had in Coast Dishes Restaurant, this was really good as it gave them more flavour. The margarita pizza also looked yummy, Laurence, Emily and Lucy had this.
Having lots of vegetarian chilli leftover from the other night we decided to use it for lunch. Thinking of new ways to make it taste amazing but different we had the chilli on bread with tomatoes and cucumbers. This worked great as we didn’t waste any food and it tasted nice.
This dinner was prepared in the morning then reheated when we got back from a long day at the Lima Self Help Group and the Kaya Kinondo Sacred Forest. This has been my favourite dinner so far, the flatbread is a great companion to this soup as you can mop up the sauce with it. I would definitely recommend spending a little extra time to make the flat bread, it doesn’t take much time at all!
Ingredients (serves 10)
- 2 large onions
- 3 vegetable stock cubes in 2 litres water
- 350g red lentils
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 can butter beans
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp mixed herbs
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 2 cups flour
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- Fry the onions with the spices and herbs until the onions are soft.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and leave to boil, stirring occasionally.
- Simmer for 25 minutes or until the sauce has thickened
- Mix the ingredients to form a dough.
- Need the dough into balls and roll each ball into circles.
- Fry until golden brown and crispy around the edges.
The Handshake team, Neema and Eric from WWF and Eric’s daughter all went out for lunch when our plans for lunch were cancelled with a local community. We ate at Coast Dishes, the only place I’ve heard of that serves traditional Kenyan food. Other restaurants around Diani serve Italian and Indian food. The menu consisted of many curry dishes including chicken, beef, fish or mutton. Other light dishes and snacks were available like; chapatis, coconut beans, rice, samosas and many others.
My first choice was the Mutton Biriani but mutton was off the menu, instead I had fish. Everyone was surprised by the large portions and most of us left a large amount of our meal as we were too full. The food was lovely and it was great to experience traditional food. I loved the way my fish biriani was displayed, check it out in the photo above.
The past seven days have been a complete whirlwind of exciting and inspiring projects and, for some, a roller coaster of emotions. Today we have begun editing the videos we have compiled over the past week, and having some time in the cool shaded cottage has given me some time for reflection and recollection of the time we've spent here so far.
The Wildlife Handshake has certainly been different to how I envisaged. I was imagining it to be more wildlife and less community focussed, but that is not to say I have been disappointed - not in the slightest. It has really opened my eyes to how strong the link is between communities and wildlife with regards to conservation, and that unless human rights are considered in conservation projects and that local people support the work that is being done, conservation projects for wildlife will never be sustainable. There have been so many examples I have seen and heard about over the last few days, but I think one that most sticks in my mind was some inspiring words from the chairman of Pasha Community Self Help Group, John Monroe Kioko: "Wildlife has a right to live, just as you have a right to live. It's non-negotiable. An elephant cannot mitigate human wildlife conflict; we have the intelligence and tools to do so, so we must use them."
Another thing that will stay with me, is how hard people work here and the extent to which they want to learn and make a difference to their own, their families', and the local wildlife's lives. We have visited more projects than I can count on both hands, but one of my favourite ones have been a tree nursery set up for somewhere for blind people to learn, work and earn a living. Regardless of their disability, these people are using their other skills to make a life for themselves and not relying on or blaming other people, which arguably has become a common theme in the UK. Another project that stood out for me was the Lima Self Help Group where women in the community own and plant tree nurseries.The women are then able to sell the by products of the trees and leaves, including herbal lotions and potions (which I purchased and look forward to using), which in turn enables them to earn money to support their families and pay for their children's education.
< Along with all of this and more, I have been blessed to see an array of wildlife during this trip. I am constantly surrounded by colobus and Sykes' monkeys, who I have become as used to being in the trees as birds. I have been lucky enough to see rare and elusive bush babies close up, and a troop of baboons in a sacred forest. A lot of people asked me before I came out here how seeing them on safari would be any different to seeing them at a zoo in England. It is hard to put into words, but seeing animals roaming around where they are supposed to be, just takes your breath away. During the previous trip I went on safari and was lucky enough to see elephants, giraffes, buffalo, vultures, and warthogs. An elephant even strolled right in front of us across the road, and what surprised me the most, was how quiet and graceful he was. For such a large animal, he disappeared into the trees and shrubbery on the other side of the road without a sound. We will be going on safari through Shimba Hills again tomorrow, but with a twist. This time we will be joined by an armed guard as we try to track and capture elephants and sable antelopes on film - I can't wait. It has also been great to be working on projects for the WWF. The WWF is such a large and global organisation, but we are here to do something a little bit different; to see the progress and promote the work of smaller, less reported projects which are nonetheless making a positive difference to wildlife and communities alike. As a result I have been lucky enough to meet and speak with some of the most inspiring people I have ever had the pleasure to meet, and made some life long friends in the process. I could not recommend the Handshake enough. It is the perfect way for you to experience a different country and culture, whilst also giving something back, and feeling safe and cared for within a friendly and varied group of people. The staff are always on hand to ensure everyone is happy, healthy and feeling like part of the handshake family. After 5 weeks here, I am feeling ready to go home and be back with my family, but I will miss everyone dearly and will treasure the memories I've made for the rest of my life. I will certainly be returning to Africa to re-visit Kenya and explore other countries in the near future, and hope that following this experience I will be able to inspire others to do the same.
Originally this dish was supposed to be a curry, however, it did not taste like curry so it turned into a stew. We couldn’t taste the coconut milk so if you do not have this there is no need to use it. I found this dish quite spicy but I am a wimp when it comes to hot food. We served this with rice and it tasted great!
Ingredients (serves 8)
- 6 fresh tomatoes
- 2 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 can coconut milk
- 180g soy pieces
- 5 large leaves of cabbage
- 2 onions
- 1 green pepper
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp aromat original seasoning (vegetable seasoning)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Chop all the vegetables.
- Put all the ingredients in a large pot and cook for 30 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
On day two we headed out first thing (barring routine procrastination with domestic animals) to meet with the wildlife/human conflict committee. This group deals in inventing and implementing techniques for its members to keep wild animals from venturing into farmland. Our host for the event was John Kioko, the committee’s chairman and possibly the coolest man we’ve met on the trip.
When John retired several years ago he decided that, rather than sit back or find another job, he would help the local communities to improve themselves economically whilst protecting the environment and wildlife. He took us around his land and showed us the fence to Shimba Hills national reserve which borders his land.
He has introduced new farming methods which he learnt about when travelling around the world during his training trips as a communications technician. These included planting chillies then burning them with tobacco and cigarettes to produce stinging smoke which elephants can’t tolerate, which he learnt from Indian farmers. He also talked passionately about building ponds that the local farmers can breed fish in as an alternative way of farming. We could have spent the entire day talking to John about his ideas but sadly all too soon we had to say goodbye to John and his team and were driven to our next destination.
We arrived at the Kenya Union for the Blind tree nursery and got started straight away by talking to the chairman of the group, James Muthoka. The nursery was started some years ago in order to provide an income for local people suffering from blindness. They plant several different species of tree and sell or occasionally donate them to the local communities for their farms. Whilst they have been having problems securing water due to lack of rainfall, they are still growing a large number of seedlings on James’ land. We helped the group out with watering the seedlings in our own inept way and before we knew it our time was up. We said goodbye to James and his group and headed back to base to prepare for another day’s work.
Pancakes for breakfast are a Sunday morning tradition for the Handshake. This was perfect timing as the day before we were at a bee farm and bought homemade honey. These pancakes were quite thick, if you would like thinner pancakes add more milk.
Ingredients (made 10 pancakes)
- 3 eggs
- 300g flour
- 500ml milk
- Mix all the ingredients together.
- Fry on a medium heat one pancake at a time.
We made this vegetable chilli as we had loads of baked beans needing to be used up. This recipe mainly consists on baked beans and tomatoes, however, it did not taste like baked beans due to the spices and herbs used. It tasted great! We served this with rice. As a treat we had oranges for dessert, we brought these from a lady when filming at a local bank. Oranges are really green in Kenya!
Ingredients (serves 10)
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- 4 cans baked beans
- 3 onions
- 3 garlic cloves
- 7 large leaves of cabbage
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 1/2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp mixed herbs
- salt and pepper to taste
- Chop the onions and garlic, add to a pan and cook until soft.
- Add the finely chopped cabbage, herbs and spices and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, baked beans and stock cube. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Cook the rice and continue to simmer the chilli until the rice is cooked.