Sustainable Philanthropic Tourism: Amboseli Project by Skål International Monaco

By Birgit Reimann.

Skål International Monaco.

Having worked within Tourism for many years, I wanted to be involved with Sustainable Philanthropic Tourism after my visit to Kenya in 2014 after 47 years seeing the fantastic development and optimism many places and the need and great sacrifices made in rural areas for basic education. 

I shared my experiences with family and friends and members of Skål International. Skål International Monaco, as well as family and Friends, got us started… We got contact with Kenya NGO which had an administration fee of 15%, which was my personal contribution, as I wanted every dollar raised to go to the project itself. 

Fortunately for us, shortly afterwards the NGO was taken over by 'Elewana', an organisation owning 16 Up Market Tourist Lodges in Kenya and Tanzania. And the NGO became: ‘Land and Life Foundation’. All administration costs of the 2 NGO offices and their staff are paid by 'Elewana'. Hannah Wood heads the 2 offices and all projects in both countries. The Nairobi office is headed by Carole. We are in regular contact with both. Currently our biggest donor by far is a Danish Foundation. The large contributions have funded the school buildings and much more.

Constantine Panoussi and I visit the project every year. 

Last 2 visits were on Nov 1018 and Aug 2019. On each visit we have a meeting with ‘Land and Life’ at the Nairobi office. We go through the accounts for each project, the donation according to estimate, the money spent upon completion – in case of a small surplus or deficit we have so far been able to even it out with a similar project. 

School projects

We have built 4 classrooms and 1 outdoor classroom all considered separate projects. We examine the budget for students, and their quarterly results. We are beginning to see a trend with the Wildlife Warrior Students for whom we support 75% of school fees for last year in primary school and 4 years in secondary boarding school. The students are the top students in year 7 from Esiteti primary school in Amboseli. They all struggle with English and maths. We have discussed it with the individual students and their parents. The students lack the foundation in both subjects. Therefore, our future donations should be directed at elevating the standard of teaching and teachers working conditions as well as increasing student support.

In Amboseli we visit the school and the village 1 day to see the projects for ourselves and discuss related issues. We stay in the area for 4 or 5 days to have time to have small meetings with the head of the school, her deputy, and head of the school council and of the village council, plus our representative of the village. We have also met local government representatives where I have, without success so far, pushed to have financial support not only for headmistress salary plus 2 teachers, but for more teachers. The 8 remaining teachers are paid by revenue from school fees. The average is 85 dollars a month (minimum for a teacher is 200 dollars a month, a few rural schools are paying up to 300 dollars a month). ‘Land and Life’ do not get involved with teacher salaries, so we have to find another way, which we hope to explore in 2020 as a start. A school of this size should have another 9 teachers to avoid classes with 60 - 70 students. How can one teacher be able to teach so many? The school now have a couple of hundred students more than 4 years ago and still the same number of teachers!


On our last visit we started to discuss future cooperation with the manager in charge of sustainability and all planting within the property where we stayed. He is also involved sustainable village projects run by that property. He is happy to help us by advice and keeping an eye on our future environmental village and school projects. He is organising 1000 trees for us if we want to go ahead with gradual planting starting ASAP.

Climate change is rapidly changing life for the Maasai, the cattle people. A generation ago, the community had double or more cattle and half the population of today. They could live quite well. Now frequent draughts like September 2017 kills their precious animals. They have had to increase their goat herds. They understand that goats eat plants with roots and when the rain comes less plants will grow for animal feed. Education is paramount for the young to find jobs within Tourism in the area or away in the cities and without jobs they will eventually die. It is overwhelming and confusing for many that the lifestyle of their fathers and many generations before them is no longer sustainable in its present form. Supplements from Tourism is not enough – more is needed. We hope modern technology and investments will enable this rich culture to survive.

During our last visit we found some areas in the school that needed attention and we are happy to say that we have now received reports and photos to show from different sources that most have been addressed and rectified one will be ok soon. All with no extra cost to us!

We plan to return early next year and of course again in Dec 2020 when hopefully the first 4 students from Esiteti Primary School graduate from Secondary School – we need to be there to make sure they get started with further education that hopefully will lead to a job they will be good at and happy with, so that all the effort by the parents and the student has not been in vain. We know their dream for the future… We invited them to come with us the last day of the Mombasa Skål International World Congress in 2018 where they participated in a ‘Land and Life’ presentation by Hannah Wood, and the next day we met them and the 2 adults traveling with them, when they returned from their glass-bottom boat trip to the reef. None of them had never seen the sea nor creatures living in the sea. Their enthusiasm and description of what they had just experienced was for us the highlight of our trip! Definitely a Sustainable Philanthropic Tourism experience!

So far, we have achieved:

  • Pump and 10.000 Litre water tank, 2 separate toilet blocks with 2 toilets in each, 2 persons to maintain and service each project.  32 cows and a bull + one cow with a bull calf – cow feed during 2017 draught. Directly to the village.

  • 170 Solar lights with USB facility and 100 mosquito nets to village and the school.

  • 10 Wildlife Warriors 75% of 5 years school fees + summer camp paid in full until they graduate from year 12.

  • 50% of primary school annual fees. We started with 20 student fees. This year we supported 50.

  • 4 classrooms, 1 outdoor classroom attached to a Shamba (vegetable garden plot) both covered by shade cloth. By March 2020 a fully equipped library building divided into lecture area, book, computer lab, and art & craft area.

Projects fully funded for 2020:

(Funds raised during the 2019 exceeding US$ 100,000)

  • When donating the cows in 2016-17, we suggested that the community should continue this by donating one matured female calf (heifer), to a member who has not as yet received a cow.

  • We have told that 8 men and 7 women have now received one heifer each from a person who have received a cow from us.  We are delighted to hear the good news and wish the community future success with this project.

  • The Library Building Project needed a considerable extra capital injection because the foundation of the building had to be re-enforced and the building fully equipped with furniture and laptops, etc.

  • Salary supplement of 8 teachers for one year. From US$ 85 to US$ 200 per month.

  • 2 new teachers for one year.

  • One caretaker/handyman for the school for one year +2 months (as he started in Nov 2019).

  • 2 new ‘’Wildlife Warriors’ for 5 years + 75% of school fees paid in advance + Holiday Camp.

  • 50+ primary school children at 50% of school fees.

  • 2 bright students in secondary school – 1 at 75% and the other an orphan at 100%.

  • 1000 trees to be planted near school and the village hopefully within one year.

  • Plans for day-use of our village hut ‘See Below’ ( which was built solely for us ) by tourist and visitors who want to spend time with the community. This will hopefully start in 2020.

Inside our 3-room village hut made for us by 167 Massai Women over 3 months as we are part of their family because we visit them every year.

The original school building. The 4 new Classrooms will close the courtyard which is used for assembly.

Classroom under construction and First classroom completed.

Most of our students and ‘Wildlife Warriors’ in Monaco Red.

We are escorted to the Elders Assembly (below) inside the village.

Distribution of 100 Solar Lights and Mosquito Nets.

Jonathan and Junior – Our village representatives ‘contacts’.

We receive handmade outfits honouring us as Elders of the Tribe – witnessed by 2 Government Officials, the Pastor and Head of the Village.

New Toilets completed.

Cow ‘Skal 1’ and Bull Calf ‘Monaco’.

Bull ‘Game Changer’.