Following the success of our volunteer building trips over the past 4 years, during which time we have built 38 homes for 176 children, we are delighted to offer you another chance to be part of a team that can lay the foundations to a brighter future for kids in Kenya.
Our upcoming trip – August 2020 Our 2020 trip will run from 1st to 14th August 2020 with an optional 3 day safari to Maasai Mara 15th to 17th August. Future building trips will be October 2021 and July 2022.
Before deciding which families we will build houses for, we take a great deal of time to assess their needs and situations to ascertain whether or not a new house is the best solution for them. Following our October 2019 building trip we assessed families in both of the regions we work in – Iten and Karatina. It was decided that those in greatest need of a new house were in the Iten area. We hope to raise enough to build a home for 4 families; details of which will be available soon.
The new families will be neighbouring the GEF houses built in 2018; creating our 2nd small GEF village. There will be small portions of the land available for the families to grow food for themselves to eat and we will also lease a separate 1 acre piece of land for each family to farm so that they can generate an income for themselves. We will lease this farm for 1 year and supply them with seeds and fertiliser to give them a boost but after year 1 they will take over the lease themselves. Between our team of volunteers, we will ask each person to raise a minimum of £1,000 to go towards the approximate cost for building materials, solar power, water harvesting, furniture for the houses and leasing the additional plot of land. The piece of land we will use for building was already fund-raised for in full as part of our 2018 building trip. Please see the trip itinerary below. A comprehensive information document can be provided on request covering everything that you need to know; please email firstname.lastname@example.org for this.
Saturday 1st August
- Guests arrive any time into Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
- Taxi or bus transfer depending on arrival time
- Dinner and spend night at hotel in Nairobi
- Internal flight to Iten and visit one of the families we will build for
- Check in to Kuellu Hotel and take dinner
- Visit site and 3 remaining families
Tuesday 4th to Tuesday 11th
- Building houses
- Officially open new houses
- Internal flight to Nairobi – Check in to hotel for 2 nights
- Carnivore Restaurant (optional at 4,000ksh)
- Relax by pool at hotel
- Optional activities
- David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and Nairobi National Park with packed lunch
- Shower at Hotel
- Fly home after 10pm
Optional 3 day Masai Mara safari: Saturday 15th
- Depart Hotel 8am
- 7 hour drive to Maasai Mara
- Check into Mara Leisure Camp
- Evening game drive
- Full day game drive and sunset (weather dependant)
- Depart camp 9am for 6-7hour drive with lunch Mai Mahiu
- Arrive back at Nairobi hotel by 4pm
- Depart hotel 6pm
- Fly home after 10pm
Optional 4-day Mombasa trip: Saturday 15th
- Morning train to Mombasa (wildlife on route)
- Pride Inn Hotel for 3 nights Half Board (dinner, bed, breakfast)
Sunday 16th & Monday 17th
- Spend day relaxing by the pool or beach
- Other activities such as Haller Park, Fort Jesus, Old Town can be booked at additional costs
- Morning train back to Nairobi, relax and shower at Tripple O’s Hotel
- Fly home after 10pm
The cost of the trip (excluding international flights) will be £1,200 per person. This includes all accommodation, meals, transport, airport transfers and tourist activities mentioned above. We ask that everyone arrives at any time on Saturday 1st August. If you wish to arrive a day earlier this can be arranged at an additional cost of £70 for transfer, dinner and hotel. Please book return flight for after 10pm on Friday 14th August – unless you are extending your trip with one of our optional extras. If you are going on the Maasai Mara safari (which is separate from the GEF trip and an additional £575) then you should book your return flight for after 10pm on Monday 17th August. If tyou are going to Mombasa (an additional £400) then you should book your return flight after 10pm on Tuesday 18th August. Our trips are always offered at cost price so we kindly ask that everyone joining our adventure can set up Total Giving pages to help us fundraise for the building material and land costs. We require everyone to raise a minimum of £1,000 to fund these. Fundraising pages can be set up here – http://www.totalgiving.co.uk/charity/gathimba-edwards-foundation – please name your page with your FULL NAME followed by – GEF VOLUNTEER TRIP 2020 so that it is easy for us to keep track of donations. Funds raised offline can also be added to Total Giving pages so please do not add funds raised in cash to Total Giving online as they will take their small percentage (3%). It is best to transfer those cash funds to our GEF bank account directly and you can reflect the money in your TG total by adding it as ‘offline funds’. Gift aid will still be claimed by us at a later date. To add offline funds please follow the following steps:
- Click on Active Pages
- Click on your page
- You’ll see the section to insert the offline funds.
To read Alan and his wife’s account of the July 2018 building trip, click Alan & Lisa McConachie’s Testimonial.
Please let us know via the below email address if you wish to attend as interest levels are high and we have to set a limit of the number of volunteers we can accommodate on site and in hotels. Deposits are required ASAP to secure your place. We require £300 from those not including Maasai Mara and £400 for those including the safari; this is to enable us to book internal transport and hotel rooms before prices increase. All payment, visa and vaccination info is included in our information document which is available upon request.
If anyone knows of any other companies or individuals that may be in a position to sponsor the 2020 project please let us know. Company sponsors are a huge benefit and help us purchase timber, windows, doors, metals, land and tools to complete the build.
It would also be helpful if anyone keen to come on the trip can let us know of any DIY experience they have. To register your place or find out more information, please email email@example.com
October 2019 Trip
In October 2019 15 volunteers embarked on a trip to Kenya to build houses for 3 families they had never met before. Over the course of the 2-week trip they worked together, faced some challenging weather conditions, learned new skills and formed lasting bonds; to take on a project out of their comfort zone.
Why did they do it? Each person had their own reasons for wanting to be involved in the experience. From someone taking on a challenge for their 40th birthday, to a few people returning after volunteering with us before, to another couple coming along to our information night and just thinking ‘Why not?’. Whatever each person’s reason for signing up, the one thing they had in common was their thirst to help less fortunate families improve their living situations.
The building project took 6 and a half days to complete, and together with 12 Kenyan volunteers and the GEF staff, the team constructed two 3-bedroom homes and one 2-bedroom home. Not only did the team physically work hard to build, but they also encouraged their friends, families and colleagues to donate towards the project; without this the whole plan wouldn’t have been possible. We raised an incredible £28,921 in total and we are pleased to say that is enough to build a 4th house on the same plot. Thanks to our group of fantastic volunteers, another family will benefit from their efforts very soon (coming December 2019).
Ten more children now have a safe and dry place to live, with a separate kitchen to protect them from cooking fumes and a solar panel on each house roof so the children are able to study past dark.
Previously, Elizabeth and her 5 daughters Josephine, Fidelis, Catherine, Faith and Margaret lived in a broken wooden house with holes throughout, paying £5 per month rent, and a kitchen so slanted it looked like it would topple over any minute and was very unsafe. Elizabeth is a sister among 9 brothers from a poor family. The brothers were very dictator-like and abusive towards her and the girls so she moved away for their own safety, even though that safety was a rundown house. Elizabeth struggled because she was not employed so she took on casual work when it was available, which gets her up to £2 a day. Now we are pleased to say the girls have a safe place to live and Elizabeth has the chance to grow and sell crops with support from GEF going forward.
Alice and her two boys, Ephraim and Peter, were “chased away” by Alice’s brothers following the deaths of their parents. They were staying in a rundown rental house near where Alice worked. Sadly, she was not treated well by her employer who overworked her despite having a broken hip which has gone untreated since early 2017. Alice fell at work and has been unable to afford the £4,000 required for treatment. Now we are pleased to say Alice is away from this mistreatment and the family have a safe place to live and an area to grow crops for consumption and sell the excess.
Previously, Winlydia, Mary and Kelcy lived with their mother in tiny single room house they rented. Sadly, their father ran away years ago when the eldest Mary was joining high school because he disagreed with his daughters progressing to high school. Their mother, Mercy, is a small-scale trader selling carrots and onions but has been struggling to cater for the family’s education and shelter needs. When Mary returned home from boarding school during the holidays, she slept on the floor and emotionally told us that she is ashamed to live like that. We are thankful to say this is no longer the case for them.
“Myles and Gideon have started an amazing journey and people can’t help but be carried along on this wonderful experience to bring hope and love to those who are desperately in need. Get involved now! You’ll meet some amazing people both from the UK and Kenya.”
– Lorraine Lee, 2019 building volunteer from Inverurie, Scotland.
This year we would like to thank EV Private Equity, Atkins and Bancon Homes for their generous sponsorship of our building project, their support enables us to purchase our GEF team t-shirts for all the volunteers taking part and vital materials.
We would also like to say a huge thank you to two particular companies for sponsoring particular aspects of this project:
A huge thank you to Aquaterra Energy for their generous donation! AE have kindly agreed to sponsor the water tanks which will enable each family to collect their own safe and clean water; something they have been without previously!
The 4 families who benefited from this building project did not have electricity previously, making it very difficult for the children to study in the evenings, but thanks to Deep Casing Tools donation each new home received a solar panel to enable lights to each room.
July 2018 Trip
In July 2018 our group of 29 international volunteers and many from within Kenya built 4 houses in just 6 days, breaking all records we have achieved in previous house building trips. No-one could quiet believe it, but it just goes to show when a group of people come together to make something happen special things can be accomplished. You can watch how we did it by clicking here. We wanted to tell you more about this trip through the eyes of our volunteers this time so the next part is told by Kayleigh, who came as a volunteer and has now joined our UK team. Let me start with a photo… This picture shows Sarah (9 years old) being told by Gideon Gathimba that she will have a new home 1 week from then and also that Darren’s (right) parents would be sponsoring her through school. It’s the picture from all of my collection that brings me to tears. Her smile explains everything! Sarah’s family (her mother Christine and 4 other siblings; Nicolas, Bernard, Isaac and Nelly) have been sleeping in a mud hut for 11 years, at the side of a dirt road so rough that vehicles can barely get over it. They previously lived in the forest but were evicted by the Government and then put on a waiting list for a home. They were 10th on the list but when it came to their turn the local area Chief stole the land and gave it to his son, leaving them to remain in these desperate and dangerous conditions. Until now! Now they have a new home with more than one room (3 bedrooms), where they can sleep without being choked by fumes from the cooking and where they will have actual beds and mattresses and not have to sleep in a seated position because there isn’t enough room. They will have a roof that doesn’t leak. Their new home will have one solar panel to enable them to have light in each room. They will have a water tank to collect rain water for showering and cooking. They will have a separate kitchen. And they will have land and seeds supplied by GEF to help them become self-sufficient over the next year. Gathimba Edwards Foundation and the other volunteers I had the pleasure of assisting made this happen and it’s just incredible. I can’t even put the experience in words without tearing up, it has been life changing – both for the children we have helped and for me. To see these kids with barely anything in life except the old clothes on their body and the biggest smiles on their faces just goes to show that people can create their own happiness, not possessions. It really was an eye opener to see the families before we starting building and the second family we helped lived in a mud hut in the middle of a forest. When the volunteers arrived, we had to leave the matatus behind and walk 10 minutes through the forest before we reached their home. I remember it well as we spotted monkeys high in the trees and a woman who passed us with a stack of wood she had balanced on her head. 4 children in this family, Joel, Millicent, Eugene and Mercy all live with their grandmother here. They all slept on a mud floor until GEF were able to get them beds and bedding, but even with beds this was not somewhere any person let alone a child should be living. Myles & Gideon explained to the volunteers that Millicent told GEF previously, she is always afraid when she walks to and from school through the forest. She hoped one day she will walk without fear. The family were so welcoming towards us, even when it was time to go Gogo, the Grandmother, and Jennifer the children’s mum insisted we stay longer to have some chi. They handed out cups to everyone and had 2 full flasks ready for us. Honestly it warmed me so much, they have so little yet they wanted to give all 29 volunteers a cup of tea. The other two families, namely the Ewoi and Ekele families, already lived locally to the Iten area. Both families lived in similar accommodation; one room buildings per family with leaking roofs and a smell from the kitchen fumes, which burned right next to the bunk beds, that I can’t even describe. It choked me just being in the house for a few minutes. The whole group really got to know the children well from both families as Viki (18), Dan (18) and Titus (13) joined us on site to help build the houses. The kids were actually involved in the making of their own bedrooms, and they had no problem getting stuck in. Humphrey (21), who is now in university thanks to support from GEF, came to assist too. He travelled 3 hours from his home in Karatina to join the team; he wanted to give something back after he had a house build for his family by GEF last October. I remember when I was 21 and I can say no one would have got me on a building site in my spare time. These children and youngsters are amazing people who have very little, while we haven’t built them mansions or such like, to them we have given them a place called home, to feel safe and warm with family. What more do any of us really want? If you ever have the opportunity to do a volunteer trip to help someone or something then grab it with both hands. If you think one person can’t change the world let me tell you… you are wrong! Together, individuals make a collective, who in turn can end up being the light the world needs more of! I feel one of my fellow volunteers, Declan, write about his time on the trip in a very accurate and heart-warming way. Please have a read: “I had such an amazing time and meet so many fantastic people that I have now adopted them as my Kenyan family. I truly found it magical how 29 strangers from all walks of life came together to make a difference. It was sad enough to see adults in the 21st century living in some of the conditions we seen but it was really heart-breaking to see the children condemned to the same conditions, with no real chance of improving their situation by themselves. To put it in prospective 1 of the families were struggling to pay their monthly rent and pay for school fees with the latter paying the price, 1 months’ rent for their accommodation which was a cramped single room with bunk beds for the whole family shoe horned in with no space for anything else was 1000 Kenyan shillings which is the equivalent of £8. The Nandi Family have been living on the side of the road for 12 years in a leaky, smoky mud hut that wouldn’t fit my office desk and there were 6 of them sleeping on the cold mud floor not being able to lay flat due to lack of space so basically have to sleep while sitting up. I think seeing the families before the build helped spur us to complete the 8 day build 2 days ahead of schedule with some blood a lot of sweat and tears going into them. 29 strangers became a family and worked together as a unit. I truly felt like I found my second calling in life during the build, I loved every minute of it. I actually think building the houses was my favourite part of the trip, my nice soft hands probably wouldn’t agree though. We didn’t just build the families a house but a home. We had built them a future platform to better themselves! Helping also to give kids a chance at education and potential athletes a chance to chase their dreams. I was completely humbled by their appreciation and thanks. I’ve learned so much on my trip to Kenya and made so many memories that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. I feel like I’ve actually achieved something meaningful with my life now, it has truly been one of the best experiences of my life and I’d recommend it to anyone.” October 2017: 4 houses for 10 children in 7 days In October 2017 our volunteers built 4 houses for 2 families in 7 days – 1 day ahead of schedule! You can watch how we did it by clicking here. The family pictured below had been through some very tough times. The 6 of them lived in a broken wooden shed in Nyeri. James (right) scored very impressive primary school marks of 352/500 but couldn’t start secondary school in Jan 2016 due to lack of £140. His dream of becoming a neuro surgeon was in jeopardy. He decided he wanted to try and commit suicide so that he wouldn’t see so much more struggles but he was convinced not to by our GEF staff and a local counsellor. Thanks to kind sponsorship from Alan Esson, James is now in secondary school and tells us the sky is the limit for him and his family. He is determined to change his family’s life for the better. His brother Stephen (left) fell of the back of a moving pick-up truck in 2013 and spent 1 month in a coma. Hospital fees were impossibly high to pay but neighbours joined together to pay some and the rest was paid by the local area administration. He has now fully recovered and wishes to go to college so that he can become a plant operator. Twin girls Faith and Ann are currently in nursery school thanks to support from four of our house building volunteers, Suzy, Susan, Fiona and Susan. They never stopped smiling even though they were living in some of the worst conditions we have seen. These smiles are even bigger now thanks to the volunteers efforts and the girls provided us with lots of singing and entertainment during the building. Paul is also back in school thanks to sponsorship from Claire Barrie and Chris Hanton as part of our #12days12futures campaign in December 2016. There is an amazing unity between the children and their mum. In the family pictured below, Humphrey (right) scored very high primary school marks but had been sent home from Form 2 of secondary school due to a lack of fees and Form 1 arrears. He was set to be unable to complete his education. They lived just outside Karatina where they shared a small rental house. Mum Lucy (right) shared the single bed each night with little Fidelis and her sisters Phoeby (brown dress) and Ivy (yellow dress) whilst Humphrey and his younger brother Gibson (second left) stayed next door in a small room. The family had lived with their grandparents until sadly they both passed away. Much to our anger, their uncles chased the family away, refusing to let them stay in the family home or support them in any way. This left them homeless until a kind landlord decided to give them a small house temporarily but they then had to move from house to house as they struggle to pay the rent. Earning £1.50 at most each day working long hours on a farm, it was pretty much impossible for Lucy to pay school fees – especially Humphrey’s university fees and Gibson’s £500+ a year secondary fees – or to ensure that they were all eating regular meals. We are delighted that all 5 children are now in full time education and eating regular meals thanks to support from sponsors who the children write to regularly. Humphrey recently completed secondary school and scored an impressive B- which saw him start university this year. We are soon going to be able to help Lucy start her own business. The family are one of the most humble and polite family’s we have met. Following a shopping trip which we took them on in April 2015, Lucy wrote a lovely thank you letter to Gideon Gathimba thanking us for our support. Huge thanks to all of our volunteers, their friends and family for everything you did to help us successfully build the 4 houses in 7 days. The houses were built on GEF land and each family will be given a portion of the land to grow various foodstuffs that will provide them with food. An additional plot of land will be leased for them for 1 year, and seeds/fertiliser provided so that they can generate an income for themselves. After they first year they will take over the lease themselves. As a team our volunteers raised a whopping £36,161!! The total land and building costs came to £27,499 which means that £8,662 more than required was raised. This £8,662 is going to enable us to build a new house and kitchen for a family in Iruri who are living in desperate conditions and also make some of the big improvements required at the Pavilion Village children’s home such as painting, windows, external flooring repair, curtains, tiling, improvements to the staff houses, an activity area for the young kids and much more. After the building works were complete guests enjoyed visits to The David Sheldrick Elephant Orphange, Nairobi National Park and Masai Mara – where we saw the famous ‘Big 5’ animals withing 5 hours! Thank you to all of you for transforming so many lives. Caroline Tough, who raised over £9,000 towards the building costs with her friends and family had this to say about the trip: “I had the trip of a lifetime, here’s why: –
- With the help, love and support of an army of people I raised £9188 which covered the cost of the building materials for 2 houses – one was dedicated to the memory of my Dad and the other one was dedicated to the memory of my cousin. It also funded a series of health seminars for families which The Gathimba Edwards Foundation support.
- I met some incredible Kenyans and experienced a very warm welcome to a country I now love. I met and worked with amazing volunteers from the UK, Kenya, Australia and the US. All the volunteers poured soooo much love and passion into the House Building Project.
- As someone who had never even dabbled in DIY activities before the trip, it was soooo exciting to learn some new skills – sawing, glazing and fitting internal walls! Darren Cocker, the Project Manager is a great leader. He was in full control of the build and was always on hand to answer any questions, and provide guidance to the volunteers. It was a real privilege to be part of a team that built four houses for families in need. There was even an opportunity to get to know these amazing families, who later became our friends!
- I can’t put into words how special it was to meet my sponsor child, Dan. He is such a wonderful person. I had the opportunity to spend quality time with him. He even taught me a few Kenyan dance moves!
- I attended the awe-inspiring house opening ceremony. The speeches, singing, and dancing and (happy) tears are imprinted on my memory. I will never forget how excited the families were about moving into their new houses!
- I visited The Pavilion Village Orphanage in Karatina – the children’s home which inspired Myles Edwards and Gideon Gathimba to set up The Gathimba Edwards Foundation. I now understand first-hand what drove these special people to set up GEF in the first place. I met a remarkable wee boy called Ian who I’ll always remember. He told me that his parents had died. When I offered my condolences, he smiled broadly and said ‘thank you’. The kids keep smiling despite so many challenges.
- I ran 6 times on Kenyan soil, at altitude. As a runner, this was a great thrill, and really helped my fitness. I even got the chance to run with the co-founders of GEF who are a Kenyan international and a Scottish title holder!!!!
- At the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, I was ‘kissed’ by a giraffe!
- I visited an elephant orphanage, and Nairobi National Park.
- I laughed and cried, and learned so much during the House Building Trip to Kenya. I felt as though I had an opportunity to detox my mind. I’m truly, truly grateful for all these experiences, I can’t wait to take part in the Building Trip in July 2018!
- I enjoyed every second of the trip. I appreciate and value everything the fantastic GEF team did to make it a trip of a lifetime on so many levels. I can’t wait to come back next year!”
The 2016 trip: 5 houses in 9 days In October 2016 our 25 volunteers achieved something very special. In the space of just 9 days they managed to build 5 houses for families in Iten. Their amazing efforts have taken 25 children from sleeping on the floor of mud houses to lovely new beds in shiny new timber homes. Here’s what some of our volunteers had to say about the experience:
“Seeing the excitement of the children as they prepared to move into their new homes was incredible. They appreciate the small things in life. It was inspiring to see what a weight it was off their mum’s shoulders to have a safe place for her and her children to sleep. Jess Thom “Its a pleasure to be a part of GEF and help children in my hometown to have safe homes and bright futures.” New York and London Marathon champion, Mary Keitany who officially opened one of the new houses. “It is amazing how quickly great things can happen. Arriving at site each morning and seeing the progress of the previous day is fantastic. I just love it.” Jo Robertson “The hard work is worth it. You get a lot more out of it then you put in.” Tracey Monro “It is great to see what we achieved in such a short space of time. The impact it brings to locals is fantastic and clear to see.” Steven Smith
The 2015 trip: 2 new homes for 20 children We are incredibly proud of our 51 volunteers who in October 2015 helped us build a new 16 bed dormitory for the children at the Pavilion Village children’s home and a 3 bedroom house for Judy Gathigia and her family in Iruri. This wouldn’t have been possible without their efforts and in particular the support from Stewart Milne Group who flew 19 of their expert staff out to help our efforts. They tell us what they thought of the trip in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfcZ5lX1IXc&feature=youtu.be
“The whole experience was inspirational and what made it even more humbling was that the people we were building for were with us on site every day.” Garry Willis. “This was the most unreal and amazing 2 weeks of my life. The reality of life for so many people in Kenya is unbelievable. We were able to do so many inspiring and life changing things in a short space of time. So many special memories and some new life-long friends too.” Nicola Henderson “Unlike most charity donations/events I have done before, this trip gave me the opportunity to see first-hand the difference that our money, clothes, toys and hard work would make to severely underprivileged children.” James Ferguson “This trip is a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life. The hardship that I have now seen, that some of the less fortunate people in the world go through has really made me appreciate what I have in life.” Frank O’Reilly