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Giraffe family in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

My Kenya Diary Part 7: Life-Saving Dogs and Near Misses

By Jane McLellan

Last updated: 30th July 2011

I had thought my adventures in the Masai were at an end, but there were a couple of Kenya memories still left to make before I headed off to Tanzania. As we were walking back from the campfire towards our accommodation, Simon, the project coordinator, pointed to a toddler in a pushchair and told me that she had been saved by a dog…he then immediately started talking about something else as if he had just made a perfectly normal statement! I was like “whoa, back up…she was saved by a dog?!”

Simon explained to me that there had been an empty house in the community and suddenly a dog had started barking outside it, and wouldn’t stop barking. The dog’s owner went over to see what he was barking at, but when she went inside she saw nothing unusual. The dog rushed past and went immediately over to a cupboard, and when the woman looked inside, she found a newborn baby who had been abandoned by her mother that same day. The baby was only a few hours old and had been left to die, probably because the mother thought she would not be able to afford to keep it. The lady who found her looked after her and now treats her as a daughter. It’s a truly extraordinary story and one that shows the compassion of human nature – and of dogs!

That night I stayed in a hotel, which was quite possibly the most basic accommodation I have ever stayed in. I had a small room with just a bed in it, but on the plus side it was clean and the bed was comfortable, so me and the cockroach were happy. The bathrooms were outside and it was dark and there was no electricity. I had had the forethought to check out the bathroom during daylight hours, so I kind of knew where the toilet was…well I call it a toilet, but actually it was no more than a hole in the ground, about 6 inches by 6 inches wide. I had no choice but to squat and hope for the best! There were no sinks and I was a little confused where I should brush my teeth, so I just stood outside my room and spat on the grass floor.

I slept OK apart from when the wind howled outside. I set my alarm for 4:45am so we had time to get the 5am mini bus, because if we missed it we would be stranded for another whole day. I couldn’t risk it because I had to fly to Tanzania the following day. I had a bit of a problem getting ready because there is no electricity and, not expecting such basic conditions, I had stupidly forgot to pack a torch, so I couldn’t see anything in my room.

I had gone to bed wearing what I had worn during the day but the thought of trying to change my clothes, find my toothbrush, brush my hair and not leave anything behind was too much to think about at that time of the morning, so I simply grabbed my bag and went out in the same clothes looking like I had been dragged through a bush backwards. I then had to do the toilet experience all over again in the dark, which was a near miss in many ways! Then we headed off on the bumpy ride back to Nairobi and I had time to reflect on all the inspirational projects I’ve been privileged enough to see during my time in Kenya.

The next day I would leave for Tanzania and a whole new set of exciting projects, but I knew I was taking some lasting memories with me… the two sad-eyed 14 year old boys, the lifesaving dog, the little boys who saved up all their money to buy a rug, the committed teachers and project leaders who devote their time and care to improving lives, and the warmth and passion of Pauline.

I’m determined to stay involved in these powerful projects, which really got under my skin and will stay with me forever. My mission now is to find some vital volunteers who share my concerns and are willing to commit themselves to supporting these incredible projects and having their own unforgettable trip to Kenya.

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