February 8, 2012

AYICC – KENYA ANNUAL LEADERSHIP RETREAT AT OLOLOSUKUAN REPORT

AYICC K members during one of the team building sessions

The purpose of this event was to relax, and within this environment, carry out reorientation of members to AYICC-Kenya’s main purpose of selfless volunteerism towards creating a better tomorrow. This retreat also serves as a platform to nominate future leaders of the movement who’ll take office during the New Year and lead the team of volunteers to achieve the goals set for the year.

The day began on a bright note with some members arriving early and some unfortunately coming late while others had invited their friends. We assembled at the ‘green corner’ and departed at 1130 hours for Ololosukuan – fashionably lateJ. We arrived at the picturesque Savannah sunset resort at half past noon. The team was visibly surprised to find a much improved and revamped campsite although we were abit distraught with the environmental conditions since the area was significantly dustier and drier. Clear effects of climate change. Strategically placed at the foot of the Ngong’ Hills and on a viewpoint overlooking Kajiado, the ololosukuan has been our annual get away and it wasn’t hard to discover why.

The team embarked on a get-to-know-the-surroundings expedition and it wasn’t long before everyone knew where the ‘rest’ area was. After acclimatization to the place, we got straight to the business of the day... fun! We started off with several team building games with some involving passing a ball between chin and chest without using one’s hands. It was a time for strategy, teamwork and ‘close’ trust. The most agile won and the stiff-necked ‘lost’. The team building activities allowed members to drop their guards, break the ice and integrate.

After almost an hour of hard work, sweat, shouting, and laughing it was time to embark on the day’s pinnacle team building event, the ololosukuan hike. This is a one hour treacherous hike through the cliffs, savannah thicket and a seasonal river that engulfs the resort to create a wonderful journey that serves for great sightseeing as well learning. During last year’s hike, some shepherd boys told us they had sported a leopard among the rocks though we didn’t see it. We were looking forward to being lucky this time around. The hike began with a descent through the rocky cliff followed by a steep ascent in between large rock boulders. After navigating this stretch unscathed, it was time for the savannah stretch which featured several rarely seen birds and shrubs. We got to learn about the symbiotic relationship between the ants and the whistling thorn tree. In between rests, we methodically navigated the waterless stream which was blotted with huge rocks and the occasional waterfall that served as a rock climbing expedition. It was a feeling of triumph after reaching the peak and nothing was more rewarding than the cool breeze at the top. We had once again not seen the leopard but we had experienced victory – a feeling none could rob us.

It was now already 3 o’clock by the time we arrived back and the lot was hungry. Lunch was served by our hosts who meticulously took the time to prepare a buffet of African delicacy. We took the rest of our stay at the resort to share our experiences within the organization over the past year. The leaders shared their experiences and the members also contributed their ideas. With regards to change of guard at the helm, the former chief coordinator George Auko, thanked everyone for their dedication to the cause, their continued sacrifice and for upholding the spirit of volunteerism. It was also noted that last year, AYICC-K was voted the best chapter in Africa as well as being recognized internationally for their efforts through the Youth caravan for climate justice. The successes and challenges of the working groups involved in renewable energy (REEN), environmental education (Education working group) and community development (Reach out Program) was also discussed.

With regards to leadership, all the posts were officially declared vacant and those nominated for positions were highlighted and quizzed on their availability and willingness to serve the organization. Several of those nominated pulled out from elections sighting creating opportunities for others as their prime reason. Among them were Joshua Minai & Daniel Wasonga. Those in standing to serve were requested to submit their resume accompanied with a letter of motivation. The final selection will be carried out on Wednesday, 8th of February. This will be the main agenda for the Wednesday meeting. Members were urged to turn up so as to create sufficient quorum.

With a prayer from Simki, the retreat was officially declared a success and the return journey was in earnest. As we left the Ololosukuan retreat, the Sun was setting on the savannah and the hills hugged the final rays of the Sun with passion. Once again we were all reminded why we so effortlessly fight to protect our environment. We were shown firsthand how climate change has wrecked havoc in our own land and why we need to do more. We’ve been here for the past three years. Next year we will also be here. Will we be any different? Will it be any different? I wonder...

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