Greetings! I hope your 2021 has started well, and that you and your family continue to keep safe and well during these very challenging times. What an overwhelming year we have all lived through, and what a great relief that the end may now be in sight. I hope the world has learned valuable lessons over the past year, particularly about the critical importance of nature, and will welcome the idea of a brighter, greener and more mindful future.
Despite Segera Retreat closing its doors to tourists for most of 2020 due to the pandemic, the ZEITZ foundation kept its projects and initiatives very much alive during this time. Here are some highlights:
We launched the ZEITZ foundation’s Tree of Life reforestation initiative in April 2020 and by the end of the year, we had planted 150,000 new indigenous tree seedlings in a rhino-shaped forest on Segera. All aspects of these tree-planting activities were carried out by women employed from Segera’s local communities, from soil preparation to bag-filling, seed scarification, germinating, planting and initial watering. A further 200,000 seedlings are planned for this year, with planting always coinciding with seasonal rain cycles.
Our second season of the ZEITZ foundation’s All-Women Anti-Poaching Ranger Academy had a late start due to COVID-19, but we were still able to proceed with a formidable team of 15 female rangers who all graduated with flying colors in December 2020. Although some will remain on Segera, most of these women will now be deployed into other conservation areas in Kenya, sharing their experiences and knowledge about the importance of wildlife conservation all across the country. Eventually, through this continuing program of education, we are hoping that the presence of female rangers will become the norm throughout Kenya.
One of the primary challenges for women raising families in Kenya is the ability to work while their children are young. For this reason, and thanks to your very generous support, the ZEITZ Foundation finished construction on the SATUBO Kindergarten in December 2020. The building is solar-powered and will cater for approximately 25 pre-school aged children, providing free, safe childcare. We are in discussion with the Roger Federer Foundation to introduce their Early Learning Kiosk system to ensure the best quality of early education to prepare the children for Primary School.
As urgency increases over protecting our planet from Climate Change and we face the irreversible impacts on natural resources in Kenya, the ZEITZ foundation is making critical plans for a sustainable water supply for biodiversity. With increasingly more severe drought patterns forecast for the future, we surveyed, approved and installed a new borehole on Segera in 2020, which we are completing with solar pumps and water pans for wildlife. Planning for the long-term, we will also now embark on an ambitious project to build a 50-acre water dam on Segera that will ensure sustainable water safety in the greater area for future generations.
As experienced across the world, schooling in Kenya was severely interrupted during the pandemic. However, after more than 9 months of learning at home, we are delighted to announce that all 17 of our bursary students were finally able to return to school in January 2021. To further encourage this safe return to education, the ZEITZ foundation distributed 4,000 masks to all of our local schools in February 2021. We are very grateful for your generous and important contributions towards educating these children and providing them with brighter opportunities for the future.
Our schools were a top priority for the ZEITZ foundation in 2020, with crucial work being carried out while schools were closed during the pandemic. A complete renovation of the girls dormitory building at Ereri Primary School was completed, along with other repairs and maintenance at all of our schools. In 2021, we will be building four new ablution blocks at Ereri Primary School and Uaso Nyiro Waterbank Primary School (with construction already underway), as well as at Endana Primary and Secondary Schools, to ease pressure on facilities following the continued growth of student attendance.
We will also be building three new classrooms at Kisergei Primary School (one of which has already been started) and Naserian Primary School, to add much-needed space for student learning. We are having huge success with enrolling children from our local communities and hope we can continue growing the footprint and infrastructure of all our schools to accommodate as many children as possible to provide them with vital education.
The ZEITZ foundation is also committed to providing continued education out in the field. Currently, six of Segera’s male and female rangers are attending a month-long Coach Ranger Life Saver training course at Wildlife Works in Tsavo. Largely focused on life saving techniques for wildlife-related injuries, the course is a combination of theoretical and practical training, designed for professional rangers operating in the conservation space.
As another milestone in the ZEITZ foundation’s education and employment strategy, 2021 will also celebrate the establishment of our new Vocational Training Academy for Forestry & Permaculture, welcoming 20 members from rural communities to attend workshops on Segera, led by local Permaculture expert Joseph Lentunyoi and supported by practical training on our nearby Permaplot. The ZEITZ foundation recognizes that in order to achieve household food and income security, permaculture can serve as a powerful tool through placing the interests of small-scale community farmers at its core by significantly enhancing farming techniques and making them more productive and sustainable.
As you can see, we have a lot of exciting plans ahead of us and with your continued support, we are looking forward to a much more positive year ahead.
Thank you so much, as always, from all of us at Segera, the ZEITZ foundation, and our surrounding communities in Kenya.
All my best,