One of the greatest pleasures in life is to travel to somewhere uniquely special. A place with breath taking views, with no other sign of human habitation. No light pollution. Just nature and you.
Then what if you added a layer and said – but I want to do fabulous trekking here! And I would love to understand other cultures and tribes. And yes, of course I would love to see amazing wildlife! And what if such a place existed? And if this place had just a cluster of private villas which ensured your total privacy – whether two or eight of you, and they served you fabulous, freshly grown produce?
Well we have found this place - just for you. It’s called Ol Lentille, situated on the Laikipia plateau in Kenya. It is also owner managed - so important as the care offered by an establishment with a vested interest is markedly different. Oh, and I forgot to say, they are undergoing a major refurbishment as we speak, so the place will feel absolutely new when you visit!
But what really sets Ol Lentille apart is its philanthropic foundation - which we are excited to tell you all about!
The Ol Lentille Trust was set up by John and Gill Elias, when they owned their lodge, Ol Lentille and was primarily responsible for supporting the local community within the area they operated as well as protecting the wildlife and the surrounding environment. They are probably the most proactive independent people I know who have made ground breaking success, most notably in terms of women’s education and in terms of trying to change some of the cultural issues which are harmful for girls, in particular, FGM.
I know of no other charity in the country addressing this issue, because there is a lot of division over the subject matter, specifically because these rituals, including scarification, are seen as testimony to their strength, their endurance and the acceptance into their culture and the affirmation of women hood, and warriorship for men.
The argument, of course, is that who are we, as westerner’s to impose our ideology on African culture? That in itself is a correct assumption, but where the lines become more blurred, is where there is undue pain caused by such a tradition and secondly, loss of life due to infection, bleeding etc, which can be avoided. Very finally, of course, is that some of the local tribes have adopted certain western ideology and principles, and simply don’t agree or want this ceremony anymore.
Gill in particular, has gone through great pains to keep the culture and respect for the culture intact, whilst simply pointing out that dignity does not need to be removed, and she has provided a platform for local women to be heard.
OLT have a particular focus on girls’ education – ensuring that girls are enrolling and staying in primary school (as per the law) through provision of safe boarding and through education/sensitisation of communities on the importance of girls’ education. Although the law does not make Secondary education mandatory, OLT also strongly encourage girls to stay in school and avoid the cultural practices of ‘beading’, FGM and early marriage.
OLT’s Anti - FGM programme has been ongoing for 7 years, through community sensitisation and education. 2015 has been the culmination of this first phase of the program and has seen 71 girls have the support of their families and community to forego FGM and choose an alternative rite of passage. They will stay in school and not be ‘circumcised’. They are the first girls in this community to do this – a huge success. The girls have the support of pastors, chiefs and other community leaders, and the programme will continue in coming years.
Secondly, with Africa’s population set to double by 2050, human wildlife conflict is one of the biggest threats facing Africa. They have a fabulous plan whereby they provide sufficient water in the conservation areas so the wildlife does not stray into community water sources.
The Ol Lentille Trust also supports education and healthcare of the group ranches and communities who own this land and are contributing to the programme objective of conservation.
The objective is to build community capacity for self-management and sustainable socioeconomic development through 4 programme sectors. Objectives are achieved through the provision of technical expertise and management of these programmes.
We would be thrilled to set up a call with Gill or John Elias if any of these points interest you and you feel you would like to donate to their incredible, worthwhile and worthy projects!