Reporter’s note: The horror that played out in a Nairobi mall has focused the world’s attention on Kenya. This week ABC 4 Utah is also focusing on Kenya, but for a very different reason. World of Difference, a non-profit foundation based in Utah, recently took an expedition to Kenya to build a school in a poor neighbor of Embakasi and work in Nairobi hospitals. The founders of World of Difference, Dr. Richard and Jodi Nielsen of Salem, have a track record of success in Kenya and were honored this year as “International Heroes” by the Utah Chapter of the American Red Cross. These reports are my first hand account of the work they do and the lives they change.
MAASAI MARA, Kenya (ABC 4 Utah) - What would an expedition to Africa be without a safari? The humanitarian team from Utah-based World of Difference Foundation spent two days in the World famous Maasai Mara game reserve.
It has been a long year on the Maasai Mara. A dry year. A drought has left only tan stubble on the Savannah. But the annual great migration goes on. More than a million Wildebeest and Zebra have crossed over from Tanzania seeking greener grass.
Lions and crocodiles always welcome the migration. For them, it is a Wildebeest feast! Even scavengers such as the Vulture pick at any number of carcasses.
Seeing it all of this for the first time is the World of Difference team. We take up four safari vans. The roof of each pops up to give us a better view as we hunt game with cameras.
In the evening of the first day, we discover a lion half hidden by young trees. He’s eating a recent kill.
Most predators hunt at night and rest in the heat of the day. Around noon of the second day we see two cheetahs in the shade. One is apparently curious enough about these visitors to leave his spot in the shade and wander over to one of our vans. There, he sits and stares.
Perhaps he’s wondering how we’d taste, or maybe, he’s posing – showing his good side to the cameras.
We also get a look from a Maasai Ostrich, but we get no special poses from him.
As for the monkeys, they’re everywhere. And these monkeys are not shy. One scavenges through our safari van looking for treats. Another walks up to me and tried to swipe my camera.
We stay in tents while on safari. Team member Kenzie Weeks showed me how to zip and then tie the tent so the monkeys can’t get inside - “Because the monkeys know how to unzip, but they don’t know how to untie.”
The safari on the Maasai Mara was a once in a lifetime adventure and a reward for team members who spent the week working in Nairobi hospitals and on the construction site for a new school.
They came to Kenya hoping to change the lives of the people there and discovered that they had changed as well.
They returned to Utah with a new sense of the world and their place in it.
And they returned with some amazing pictures from the safari.