Looking at the more than 20 new programs already done and all the items in the pipeline from initiatives to conservation to product, a friend commented that we certainly didn’t waste time during this crisis. I thought about that for a bit and realized it was a not compliment as much as it was the sound advice. It reminded me of the real meaning of travel – inspiration through exploration.
I was glad to see my native country, Kenya, open its borders to North American travelers and doing it the right way with clear communications and by setting accurate expectations of the experience. This was followed by the CDC ending it’s mandatory 14-day quarantine order for returning Americans.
That same friend then asked what the motivation was for not resting. I replied that it wasn’t a what, but rather a why. As a child growing up in New York, I watched my parents struggle with nothing and still provide. I grew up with a sense of responsibility to help those in need without a desire for anything in return. Through college and in prior a career, I kept searching for ways to serve that responsibility and I never seemed to find a fit. Everything seemed to feel like a job, until I returned to travel.
It came full circle last November when I met one of my childhood heroes, Ian Craig, head of the Northern Rangelands Trust in northern Kenya. When I told him that we were delivering digital equipment to anti-poaching units as part of a Virtuoso educational, he asked if we were heading to Sera Conservancy. When I explained that was exactly where we were going, his eyes lit up. This is what the travel industry really does.
Kenya and neighboring Tanzania and Rwanda have opened with official processes in place, which means the responsibility to help those in need resumes. We are presently taking stock of the Ereto school outside Arusha that many of you have helped us support to find out what they need as the school year resumes later this year. This school’s students come from several different Maasai communities and the school represents the true essence of collaboration. Luxe Travel and Direct Travel helped us with the concrete foundation, Ensemble Travel Canada with the roof, Cadence Travel with the windows and roof truss, and Largay Travel with the doors, painted by the ever-talented Courtney Klimak, and books. We stand ready to assist as it is our overriding responsibility.
Africa is calling again and I cannot wait to get back. I met my first best friend, Sunil Shah, when we were three in Nairobi, and we will be getting together again – this time with our kids and wives meeting for the first time.
With all the new initiatives out there, now is the time to introduce our new tag line for a post Covid world.
“While the World has been Changing, Big Five Has Been Exploring.”
Karibuni Africa, na safai njema bwanas