4 days at the Chyulu Hills:  Where seeing is believing

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5 May 2022
Adrian LeitoroKandi

This blog post is co-authored by Kandi and Adrian, the forest and dryland Restoration Stewards 2022 respectively.

Kandi, Adrian and Charity – Restoration Stewards @Tonywild

On the road to Chyulu

When Anna asked me if I would be interested in joining the team for a field visit in Tsavo, I was elated as I love exploring and it would be my first time in the region. However, I was quite nervous about meeting the team for the first time.  To my surprise, I really enjoyed the six hours to and from Chyulu. What great company we had!  The workshop Salina had prepared made the atmosphere safe and comfortable. The interest everyone had in learning about one another was just beautiful. The spectacular Mt. Kilimanjaro, the landscape, wildlife, livestock and communities graced the whole journey. – Kandi

Charity and Adrian all smiles at an MWCT restoration site  @TonyWild

Learning from a pro

I had the most inspiring experience interacting with Charity Lanoi, the Dryland Restoration Steward for 2021, who works for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust (MWCT). She was very impressive and handled all of the million questions from me about the drylands and her approach like a true pro! A huge learning point came from her insistence on community engagement and ownership. This point really hit home and serves as a key reference point for my organization in the future. Seeing the work she does with the Maasai community, who are pastoralists and quite similar to my own community in the north of Kenya, served as an eye-opener and a huge source of inspiration for my work at Nature and People as One (NaPO). – Adrian

Kandi and her mentor Khalil @TonyWild

Meeting my mentor

Being the newest member of the 2022 Restoration Stewards and having interacted a few times virtually with my mentor, it was timely and a great pleasure to meet Khalil personally. The workshop he facilitated on project implementation and its dynamics gave me clear foresight on the forest restoration program I intend to implement as a steward. I also found more reasons to be grateful for the efforts the GLF team is making to support youths like me.  Over the past year and a half of leading and working in Light On A Hill (LOAH), one of the main challenges I have experienced is a lack of mentorship and someone to guide my efforts. With Khalil as my mentor, I feel more confident about the future as I hope to greatly tap immensely from his undisputed intellect and experience in restoration. – Kandi

Hugs and sisterhood with the GLF team

It’s not every day that you get to interact with your program partners so informally – like family. The GLF did this in a big way, and it was a great pleasure to personally meet and interact with Eirini, Anna and Salina. The sisterly love extended by them will always hold a special place in my heart. The extra mile you took in helping us tell our stories and reminding us we have what it takes to do great things in restoration and beyond can hardly be explained in words. I personally discovered a strong side of me (public speaking)  that I hardly knew about. The time spent with you gave me a great yearning to meet the rest of the team and the other stewards in person. I hope this can happen one day. – Kandi

New friends and bold conversations
These special moments were only possible through the amazing team at GLF: Anna, Eirini and Salina, the architects of the Restoration Stewards program. They truly understood the need to support and elevate the work of youth implementers at the local level. What truly stood out for me was their passion to genuinely understand and contribute to our work –  it‘s very rare to find a team that is willing to listen in order to assist. What I enjoyed most were the conversations I had with the GLF team (Anna, Eirini and Salina), Kandi, Khalil, Tony and others including our guide Mr Parashina. – Adrian

Capturing our hearts and minds 

Lanoi’s efforts through Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust were a true inspiration for me to respect the growth process and the key role of communal ownership in the success of any program. Seeing the great role women were playing in transforming their communities and sustaining their livelihoods despite the challenges they faced made me believe in the important role we as women play in society. I was motivated to keep doing what I am doing in my community. The icing on the cake was the children we met, who were so enthusiastic about learning and life as a whole. Tony Wild, Adrian and Eirini were indeed great photography teachers. My heart is full of this experience. – Kandi

Listening to the voices of nature 

As a wildlife enthusiast, spending time with the elephants on the first day kicked off the visit on the right note. Our dinner conversations were interrupted by the sounds of monkeys and the occasional waterbuck making its way to the water point (at this point, the experience of having dinner in a house is ruined 😃). Bird watching with Khalil and Tony, the bird experts of the trip, has made me consider this as a new hobby . – Adrian 

Ashe Oleng (thank you) to the  GLF team and Charity Lanoi for making this journey happen.

Adrian and Kandi

Adrian Leitoro

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Supporting partners

Under the banner of Generation Restoration, the Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) launched the Restoration Stewards program in 2020 to support and highlight the work of six young restoration practitioners and their teams, dubbed ‘Restoration Stewards’. The year-long program provides funding, mentorship, and training to deepen the impact of these projects.
In 2021, the Restoration Stewards and their teams will be supported to further develop their project and will become ambassadors at both global and local levels. Globally, the Restoration Stewards will share their journey in a series of vlogs and blogs documenting their stories of inspiration and challenges. Locally, they will spark a restoration movement, creating pathways to connect, share, learn, and act for more sustainable landscapes.