Tomas Heed

Writer • Musician • Entrepreneur

Kenya day 4 – Marula, Elephant orphanage, Kazuri och giraffe center

I don’t know how many things you can experience in one day! This Thursday we have been in a factory that makes sculptures out of old flip-flops, a park for orphaned elephants, a factory that produces beads and a giraffe park. The other half of the group crowned the day with a tour to a crocodile park, but me, I was saturated with impressions and I’m currently having a cold beer by a cold pool with half an eye on my swimming children.

Day 1Yesterday

We started the day by going to Marula, just outside Nairobi. It was a Kenyan woman (a Kenya-born white woman, they felt obliged to clarify) who had been on holiday when the whole group jumped into the water without first taking off their flip-flops. Pretty soon they came out of the water, but without their shoes. This (white) Kenyan woman realized that there was a problem with the slippers and flip-flops floating around in the sea and so she started an initiative to collect them. The slippers are now brought to Marula where they are transformed into fine plastic statues and figurines of animals.

The slippers entering are washed, dried, cut, glued, carved, glued again, sanded, polished, washed, dried and finally sold to the tourists. They look really cool!

We followed the holiday theme and bought another turtle at an overprice.

When we left the flip-flop factory, we went to The David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. This is a park that was founded in 1977 where they take care of elephants orphaned by poachers who kills for ivory, or young animals that are hurt in any way and therefore banned by the pack. The elephants are taken care of until they are large enough to be reintroduced into the wild. The area where the animals graze is supervised at all times by aircraft and the park workers.

Between 11-12 each day the animals are fed before an audience and you are invited to adopt your own elephant for 50 US dollars per year. Currently the parkhouses no less than 35 elephants, a giraffe and an ostrich. The elephants walked around freely at the edge of the park where a rope had been put up, and we – the delighted visitors who stood on the other side of the fence could easily stretch in a hand to pat them.

After lunch we went to the bead factory Kazuri, where they make beads out of clay. Kazuri, which in Swahili means small and beautiful, was founded in 1975 by a woman who wanted to create an enterprise to employ single mothers. Today, the business employs no less than 340 single mothers (some of them were single fathers) in the factory and they export the beads to a lot of countries, including Sweden. Google Kazuri Beads and see for yourself!

We got a guided tour in this factory, too. The beads are formed by the women from clay transported there from Mount Kenya. The clay is set to dry for a while before they are baked in an oven for eight hours at 1060 degrees. Then they paint the glass with glacing color before they are burned for another eight hours and shipped around the world.

The man who showed us around the factory seemed to be in a bit of a hurry, all the time with an eye on his watch. This puzzled me a bit. When we reached the front door the clock turned three o’clock, and I immediately got the answer. As if on cue all the women in the room dropped what they were doing and tuned up in a beautiful song that honored their dear friend Jesus Christ. We stood there with our mouths hanging open and enjoyed all three verses and then we crashed part of the prayer that followed with applauses. I thought this surely was something they did just for show to impress us, but when the singing died in the room that we were in, I heard singing from the other buildings as well, and there were no tourists there at that time.

After the tour, we were – tadaa – shown into a store and we bought some small beads for the children. No turtles this time.

The last station for those of us who didn’t visit the crocodile farm was a Giraffe Centre in Karen just outside Nairobi. The purpose of the giraffe center is evidently to educate children.

At this farm there was a whole bunch of giraffes that you were allowed to feed and the part of the group that did not suffer from germ fobia, getting all nauseous by seeing dogs lick people in the face, dared to keep the giraffe food in the mouth and thus get a kiss by the long blue tongue. Blä!

The were some wild boars in the area, but it was the giraffes who drew the audience.

So, today I patted giraffes and elephants. What have you been up to?



  1. Flipflopdjuren säljer vi i souvbutiken. (Ocean-sole) kul att läsa om era äventyr. Här snöar det . Kram!

  2. Jag har tittat på pandor och såg rumpan på en flodhäst (Beijing zoo)

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