Osinkira Campsite: Transforming lives in Kenya
Ethical Travel Guide 2nd Edition - Stories from the hosts....
The Maasai Community Development Organisation (MCDO) is a not-for-profit organisation helping communities in the Mara, Kenya deal with tourism, conservation and community development issues. Its sister company, Osinkira Tours and Travel, runs a campsite that empowers the local community to play a stronger role in managing tourism, enabling them to benefit without undermining their culture.
Local people receive long-term employment and training, including driving, wildlife monitoring and walking safaris - linking sustainable tourism, livelihoods and conservation. There is an opportunity for them to interact with people from all over the world, while lease fees help pay for community development projects.
Above right: young guests partake in a Maasai initiation ceremony (c) Resiato Martin.
MCDO’s manager, Resiato Patiat-Martyn, tells us how the project has impacted on the lives of two community members.
“Koipape and Mesenga have both benefited from working at the Osinkira campsite. They’ve qualified as guides and are receiving further training so they can work as security guards during night walks. At the end of each month, Koipape and Mesenga march 15 kilometres to the nearest market to buy goats and food for their families. When they started working they had just a few goats and no income. Now their families are healthy, they have money to pay for hospital fees and even buy better shukas (Maasai sheets). Before, Mesenga, had turned to alcohol for want of anything to do, but these days he is sober and has a regular routine, and only drinks when off duty. He now feels that he is offering something important to the project and is appreciated for his work.
Koipape spends his time happily collecting wildlife data, and enjoys talking to visitors and other community members about his work. Before the project started, conservation and environmental awareness in the in the community was seen as someone else’s job, but now every animal spotted is reported earnestly and with pride. We also had problems with wildlife-people conflict, but, thanks to the project, this seems to have lessened. Wildlife killings are very rare compared to when we started. Koipape has a radio to communicate with KWS [Kenya Wildlife Services] should anything go wrong. For example, if someone is hurt by wildlife he can report it immediately. This has boosted the community’s outlook on the outside world and they are happy to report to Koipape so that KWS can be contacted. This has also elevated his position in the community.
Although not everyone in the community directly benefits from the project, they are happy for the few who are and anticipate being next in line. For Koipape and Mesenga, even if the rains fail, as they have this year, they aren’t particularly bothered because they have an income and their families will eat well. According to Koipape, infrastructure has also improved and he is happy that the family can travel to and from Narok - the nearest town 120 kilometres away. The families of these people and the community feel special. They welcome visitors to Osinkira camp because it compliments something that they have contributed to.
Recently, we held a race at the Osinkira campsite, which brought the community and the visitors together. The locals felt that they were valued and respected for their athletic talent. They competed with the visitors and afterwards shared a cup of sweet tea. The race changed the perception of local competitors and spectators, as they had always believed that white people wouldn’t want to do anything with them. The respect is there and is growing after interaction.”
Contact: Resiato Martyn
Tel: +254 790 883
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