5 January 2023

Future-proofing employment and sustainable food solutions in Tsavo

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The Robert Walters Group has been sending volunteers to Tsavo since 2017, as part of our long-standing partnership with the Global Angels Foundation, to help the community build infrastructure that supports sustainable farming and business practices and provides vital access to clean drinking water for the Itinyi Valley community.

Peter Maxey is a talent principal at Robert Walters in the UK and was one of our volunteers to recently visit Kenya to work on key projects in Tsavo. He has taken part in many volunteer programmes with the company during his three years with the Group and was selected to be a part of this trip for being one of our top fundraisers for Global Angels last year. “In 2021, I took part in the Robert Walters Group Walks to Kenya global fundraiser by biking 100 miles to raise funds for Global Angels,” said Peter. “My efforts paid off beyond what I imagined, and I was lucky to be awarded a trip to Kenya as one of eight volunteers for the trip this year.”

Beyond giving a hand

Our volunteers hit the ground running and are involved in many projects within the local community during their week-long visit. Peter’s experience was no different. “We were fortunate enough to get to work on a variety of activities in our short time in Kenya," he said. The visit to Tsavo extends beyond physical involvement and includes time spent learning about the work we are doing in Tsavo. “We had the opportunity to learn more about the farm's current projects and how they're contributing to the community through a half-day training session with Mollie Bedingfield, the founder of Global Angels, and Jackson Mwanza, Director of the Global Angels Kenya project. Once equipped with that knowledge, we were fortunate to get our hands dirty by working on some of the key projects on the farm, such as prepping ground for farming, planting trees, building fences and digging dams,” said Peter.

Facing challenges head on

The Tsavo community faces various challenges, including limited access to clean water, limited access to education and the lack of sustainable farming solutions that can withstand the harsh effects of climate change on the land. “To ensure the growth of their crops, the farmers prepare the fields by planting a variety of vegetables including spinach and lettuce. They also grow citrus fruits like lemons and limes, and this requires digging 3-to-4-foot holes in the ground to plant the trees in preparation for the rainy season,” recalls Peter, as he was involved in assisting the community for the planting season.

Each day is filled with new and different activities aimed at addressing each challenge that the community faces, which included visiting local schools, delivering non-perishable goods, clothing and soccer equipment to the children. While recognising the importance of such activities, Peter found that the most memorable moments of his trip came from connecting with the community and playing games with the kids. “We don’t speak the same language, but some things are almost universal, and I was more than happy to deploy my skills as a silly Dad to a 2-year-old to have some fun with them!” he said.

Working towards a common goal

The Robert Walters Group partnership with the Global Angels Foundation is built on collaboration and mutual support. “While I was there, I met and connected with the local people, to understand the work they do every day,” Peter said. He describes the experience as incredibly rewarding. “It was an enriching experience. I came away with a deeper understanding of how challenging life can be. It’s an experience that will forever change how I see the world.”

The opportunity to volunteer in a foreign country is an eye-opening experience because it reveals the strong contrast between the beauty of Africa and the harsh realities of day-to-day life in small villages like Tsavo. Peter travelled 6,000 miles from The UK and was mesmerised by the richness of Africa’s resources. “I was inspired by their contentment and gratefulness, even though they were born and raised in a challenging environment. The wildlife was unbelievable. We had close encounters with wild animals, including elephants, giraffes, zebras, and more,” he said.

Developing awareness and accountability

Our initiatives in Kenya do not only raise awareness about the effects of climate change on less-privileged communities but also aim to hold a mirror up to the rest of the world to help show the impact of their actions. “The world’s richest countries are undoubtedly releasing most of the emissions, and they continue to emit many more times than poorer ones, such as Kenya,” said Peter.

Peter’s hopes mirror those of Robert Walters Group, that one day other communities like Tsavo will also have access to clean water, food, healthcare, education and opportunities. “I hope this isn’t just a dream for the people of Tsavo, but a dream for all communities across the world. These fundamental rights should be available to everybody,” said Peter. “I hope that people will start to understand the effects of climate change, and we can stop it from getting worse.”