Gustavo Maranes’ Diary
Tidal Forests of Kenya

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July 27, 2009: Visit to Gazi Primary School

Breaktime It was a difficult day. We were working for the first time after having made contact with the project and the mangroves the day before. Unfortunately, the African sun did not come out, and instead we got wet under the rain. Immediately after arriving in the Kinondo mangrove area we were split into two teams: plants and animals. The plant team counted the height of the trees, diameter of the stem, total number of leaves and number of damaged leaves, in different plots. The animal team counted the snails and crabs per plot, taking random areas. This would give the biomass of the plot and show how trees had grown up and how fauna had settled in the area attracted by mangroves. The best moment of the tough morning was the coconut break. We could stop working for 15 minutes to drink and eat a wonderful coconut. One of the magic moments of the expedition came that afternoon when we visited the Gazi Primary School. The school is very basic but kids spoke good English, Schoolkids were wearing a uniform and seemed to enjoy it. There was a nice performance by some students. We also had a small performance where we sang the Kenyan anthem and I sang a short song in Swahili everyone knew, and a funny Spanish song. The kids were laughing at us like crazy. Our team offered some presents to the school that were received by the student representatives. Pens and notebooks were welcomed mainly by the teachers, and candies and balloons by the youngest children. Nevertheless, the most important present for them was the football. They became really excited. Some speeches followed by our local colleagues explaining how working hard at school and with big discipline they had managed to get to university or get a job. It was an important message for these children since many of them stop education after primary school. In the evening we had presentations on the Kenyan medical system and we found out that many people still believe more in sorcerers than in doctors and would therefore arrive at the hospital only when little could be done to save them. We sadly heard that diseases like malaria are very common among the population, and the prevention programme only includes giving people mosquito nets. AIDS is also a very common disease transmitted very frequently among the population. Later Ms. Kairo presented her research thesis on aquaculture in Africa. She is an Alcoa fellow and thanked our company for having given her a great opportunity to conduct her research. I found out that she had attended the Alcoa Sustainability meetings in Barcelona last years, where I was also present.

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