In the next few days world leaders will be gathering in Paris, France for the #COP21 to discuss on climate change and hopeful come up with a new deal to address the climate change challenge. Many agree that we have had enough science and research pointing at climate change not happening in the next few years, but now it is happening and though a bit too late, it’s time to act.

The impacts of climate change are well known and it’s not something to smile about. Among the habitats where climate change has had the most impact is the ocean ecosystem especially the near-shore habitats which have direct benefit to millions of people. Release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases through burning of fossil fuels are causing global warming. Global warming results to increased sea surface temperature that causes coral bleaching in tropical areas where coral reefs occur. Corals thrive near their upper temperature tolerance and therefore any slight increase in temperature breaks down the symbiotic relationship between corals and microalgae and hence bleaching. Coral bleaching affect not only the corals but if it persists and corals die all the biodiversity depending on them for survival will perish.

UY5 April

Bleaching in April 2013 on a permanent quadrant

The Ocean plays a role in reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere but this also comes at a cost further threatening these systems. The ocean absorbs the CO2 from the atmosphere but the increased amount of CO2 in the atmosphere means more is or has to be absorbed than the ocean can take causing ocean acidification.

Coral bleaching and ocean acidification are deteriorating coral reefs conditions all over the world and jeopardizing all ecological and socio-economic values that they provide to millions of people depending on them directly or indirectly. Global warming is also causing rise in sea-level damaging coastal states and people’s livelihoods. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its recent (2013) report had predicted that there will be 26 to 82cm rise in the sea level in the next a hundred years. What does this mean for islands states such as Maldives?

The impacts of climate change and their associated consequences are already being felt both at global, regional and local level and paint a bleak picture to people and livelihoods. We are hopeful that all leaders and nations present at the COP21 meeting will come up with a deal for climate change and a commitment that will reduce carbon emissions. While this is very important, what can we do at a local level? How do we build the ability of both society and ecological system to adapt to climate change as we buy time for recovery of these systems with low carbon emissions?

In a small town in the North coast of Kenya, Watamu, we are working in a small marine protected area to try to understand and build the resilience of the coral reefs and the communities here. Watamu Marine National Park is one of the oldest marine park in the world and was seriously impacted by the 1998 El Nino event that caused up to 80% coral loss, and has experienced slow rates of recovery ever since. There was a minor bleaching event in 2013 which we recorded relatively good recovery. Some coral reefs have been reported to develop tolerance to thermal stress. The good recovery in 2013 could be argued that the corals are adapting to thermal stress but a more weighted argument could be that the thermal stress was not as intense as that one in 1998. Whichever scenario is correct, we are working to have a better understanding on this at a local level.

Scientific predictions are pointing at a stronger El nino event, that might cause bleaching early next year, we are preparing to monitor the bleaching event within the protected area and surrounding areas. With marked quadrats and corals that we used in 2013, we will be going back to the same spots and checking the response of the corals in the event of bleaching. This will give us an understanding of whether these corals are adapting to thermal stress and which sites are more resilient and hence need more protection.


UY5 October

Recovery in October 2013 on a permanent quadrant

We are also working with local reef users and the government agencies to raise awareness on coral reefs and climate change and influence reduction of local stressors. Our overall goal is to ensure everybody understands these threats and come up with appropriate management strategies for continued structural and functional existence of the coral reefs.


Remarking permanent quadrant in October 2015


In a workshop explaining bleaching



One of the critical aspects about empowering a community is exposure which will actually convince them that what you are trying to teach them is actually applicable and practical as seen in certain communities in other parts of the country. However, this does not necessarily mean taking a community group for the usual luxurious field excursion. It is supposed to be about experiential learning and more so about sharing of various experiences the different community groups have undergone (in this context) their pursuit and quest for conservation.

Factoring the reality above, A Rocha Kenya has been organizing these forums aiming to empower Community Forest Associations around Arabuko Sokoke Forest and Dakatcha Woodland in Kilifi County and Ngong Hills Forest in Kajiado County. Earlier in the year, these forums have seen the Community Forest Associations from Kilifi County visit Wildlife Works at Kasigau, where they were exposed to the REDD+ Project (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) which involved learning about the carbon credit business including calculating the value of an ecosystem as carbon sinks. In addition they have led the Ngong Metro CFA to visit Arabuko Sokoke Forest to explore the ecosystem. This provided a good experience of the different opportunities offered by the forest. The major highlight being the visit to the elephant hole at Arabuko Sokoke swamp and a boat ride through the Mida creek that exposed the group to the potential of exploring ecotourism opportunities.

Flash forward to November, the forum was set to be held at Ngong Hills Forest, where the Kilifi County CFAs were supposed to visit and share with their counterparts of Ngong Metro CFA. The group from Kilifi consisted of a total of 32 people, eight members from each of the four CFAs which were Gede, Sokoke, Jilore and Dakatcha. Day one saw the group visit Oloolua forest which is one of the three forest blocks of the Ngong hills forest. Here, they were met by members of Oloolua Forest Environmental Participatory Group (OFEP), which is one of the user groups in the Ngong Metro CFA. Oloolua forest is an indigenous forest covering 671ha, gazetted by the Kenyan Government and under the management of Kenya Forest Service. It used to team with a variety of wild animals, however due to human pressure they have since disappeared with only a few spotted sporadically. The core reason for the immense pressure thrusted on the forest can be traced to politics in the 1990s; where 18ha of the forest was licensed to business men and cleared for quarrying, all in the name of gaining political mileage for the Member of Parliament at the time. The un-rehabilitated quarries were left behind characterized by huge depressions which left the forest precariously without any outstanding warning signs. They have posed a great risk not only to animals in the forest but also humans with several deaths and injuries reported.


Despite these challenges all was not lost, the OFEP group committed themselves to restoring the forest into its original form as if heeding to Theodore Roosevelt words, “To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.”  They therefore embarked on replanting trees in the area cleared for quarrying covering 5ha out of the 18ha without any financial assistance from external sources. Surprisingly also those who had devoted themselves to this work were old women who were clocking half a century and beyond having seen it all, which really challenged the group from Kilifi County who consider themselves still young and energetic but had yet to reach such milestones. “These women were working hard to restore the forest for generations to come,” these were words confessed by their Chairman. The main challenges that the Kilifi group learnt their counterparts were facing were inadequate funds, lack of political good will and an ecological challenge in the name of lantana camara an invasive species in the forest which had colonized the cleared areas that were meant for quarrying. Most of the challenges were similar to what the other groups were facing and they motivated each other to continue with their passion for conservation.


The afternoon was scheduled for the group to visit the forest at Karara Field Study Centre which is A Rocha Kenya’s National base in Karen, Nairobi. The forest is intact characterized by many species of trees most of which are of great medicinal value and in addition it is home to various species of birds such as the black cap, thrush nightingale and marsh warbler. The community members were able to find out more about the work of A Rocha Kenya at the Centre such as Farming God’s way, a form of conservation agriculture.

The second day commenced by climbing the picturesque Ngong Hills, polka dotted with wind turbines, and the peak offering a magnificent aerial view of both Nairobi and Kajiado counties with a slight hint of Narok County further in the horizon. It was evident that indeed it is the highest point in Nairobi.


Led by Bedan Leboo an official of the Ngong Metro CFA, the CFA members were taken to the third block; Empakasi Forest or locally known as Kibiko, the second having been the forest on the Ngong Hills. The forest is mostly characterized by plantations of Eucalyptus sp but highly significant to the locals since it was the crushing site for a plane that had carried the late Honorable Prof. George Saitoti who was once Kenya’s Vice president and a tough, vocal legislator who hailed from that region.

The major highlight of the experience sharing forum came in the afternoon when the group was taken to Kerarapon forest, still part of the extensive Ngong Hills Forests which acts as the source of River Sabaki also known as Athi and Galana. The forest, typical of any water tower had a resemblance of a rainforest characterized by chirping birds, tall, broad-leaved and gigantic trees, with small springs at the bottom, supplying water to a river dependent upon by most parts of the coastal areas before it pours its waters into the Indian Ocean. It was breathtaking but no! scratch that, it was wildly exhilarating for the community members from the coast with one Mzee David Chivatsi who lives right at the mouth of river Sabaki delighted at the sight of the springs and who could not contain his excitement evident by how ecstatic and frenzied he became such that he had to call home just to inform his loved ones what he was witnessing.

After such an eventful experience the trip came to an end with the CFAs having been exposed to a whole new world of conservation and how the Ngong Hills Forest is intricately interrelated to the Sabaki River.


“Am so sorry for the poor turnout, members have not yet arrived because of communication issues”, said Jackline, the chairperson of the Pwani University Environmental Club when we arrived at their campus for a long planned bird-walk. It was still very early (around 0600 hours), with only two club members and so we gave members more time before we started off. We were taken to the botanical garden for introduction and before we were halfway, ten enthusiastic members joined us. In five minutes time, we had flagged off our session with almost fifteen energetic members.


The botanical garden is blessed with a seasonal water pool that was once a dumping site for the Institute of Agriculture and Technology. African Golden Weavers could be seen perching on plant twigs, displaying  their beauty before they get into their nice grass-weaved nests and coming  out, while White Browed Coucal sun basking from a well perched bamboo edge near the pool. It was a hustle for the first few minutes as we adjusted the scopes and demonstrating how to use them. And of course, everyone wanted to be the first one to see through, which required a bit of strictness and direction which did not take long before they realized that cooperation is required. Speckled mouse-birds were the most common sun bathing from Neem trees (Azadirachta indica). “These birds are somehow inactive when it’s raining and when the sun comes out after raining, they hang on tree branches with their chest facing the sun. They actual do that for the heat from the sun to break down their food to give them warmth”, noted Albert Baya of Spinetail Safaris.


“See that thick orange-billed bird on that tree! Its actually blue on the wings and grey on the chest”, exclaimed one of the members. On a Terminalia catappa calmly sat a well decorated Mangrove Kingfisher. We had to work extra fast to make sure that it is actually in the scope and everyone had seen it. “Wow, it so beautiful”, expressed another member. We walked for about half a kilometer into the bushes and open farms as we followed closely a group of Common Waxbill. “These guys are tiny but see how beautiful they are”, said Kafulo of Gede Community Guide.


No one realized how time flew, it was already Ten o’clock, having recorded almost forty species within a distance of only two kilometers. As we turned and headed back to the botanical garden, we were joined by Red Cross members who wanted to know what was happening. The crowd was now quite big as new comers became more excited, either by just using the telescopes and binoculars or learning new things.

Young environmentalists from Moi University and Technical University of Mombasa were eagerly waiting for us at the botanical garden. The expert in charge of the botanical garden had also arrived to give out a brief talk on the same. We had actually gone back to wind up but that couldn’t happen until mid day as late comers asked questions and wanted to know almost everything about birds and bird-walks. “It was actually an experience I had never imagined in my life. I did not know that birds are very special and could be used to tell a lot about the status of the environment”, sighed one member.


The whole team vowed to start organizing frequent bird walks to learn more about birds and adopting a bird each for conservation concerns. It was such a nice moment to get to reach such a strong youth group to interact and share God’s love for His creation and our role as humans who were mandated to care for the creation.


On an early Tuesday morning, Kilonzo Masyuko, a farmer and businessman from Chamari village received us with a smile on his face and a Bible in his hand, a trademark of him being a staunch Christian and an assistant pastor. A father of five, Kilonzo educates and feeds his family from farming. We hurriedly get into the car with his 3 year son to see his Farming God’s Way (FGW) crop at his farm some 7kms away.

Kilonzo is one of the many farmers from other parts of the country who have bought large pieces of land, cleared the forest by burning it down and practiced traditional farming. However, Kilonzo is a transformed man as a result of intensive Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) discussions, Farming God’s Way (FGW) and care for creation training. He is now a better farmer who used to burn his land every planting season and grew only maize by broadcasting but now commits his farming to the Lord, mulches his land as much as he can, plants maize, green grams and cassava.


Kilonzo and son on his 2 acre green gram plot

As we reached the farm, we were greeted by long, tall and neat rows of a healthy maize crop. Kilonzo’s smile widened in an ‘I told you’ fashion when he saw our surprised and exited looks. Kilonzo took us through his 7 acres of farmed land and to the half acre of FGW plot beautifully mulched from last season’s Stover. There, we hold hands and blessed his land over prayer, a job well done. He told us rather apologetically that he could not have managed to mulch and fertilize the whole area but he did manage to do the proper spacing for all crops. We squeezed past the rough maize leaves to his 2 acre green gram plot, a dense vegetation of healthy green crop, and later to his new poultry structure he made after a farmers’ visit  to Yatta.


Kilonzo putting mesh on his poultry house

Kilonzo is a beacon of hope, transformation and a model to many who need change of their attitudes and practices. For his hard work and faithfulness, we salute Mr. Kilonzo.



Can you imagine working out of the office for six lump sum days? Well, an opportunity knocked at A Rocha Kenya doors some weeks ago for the second time.  We set out for the annual International Trade Fair at Jamhuri Park showground, Nairobi where all roads led in.

What a spectacular display of unique innovations, technologies and talents from different government institutions, organizations, corporate bodies, and schools all in line with the 2015 theme: “Enhancing Technology in Agriculture and Industry for Food Security and National Growth.’’ It was the best platform for ARK to interact with both local and international exhibitors as well as curious visitors.


We were able to secure a stand through a courteous gesture of the Kenya Forest Service to demonstrate how Farming God’s Way can be used as a tool not only for improving food security but also for saving biodiversity.


Thousands of people from all walks of life streamed in. For a moment it seemed overwhelming but the team was well prepared. Visitors from the Kenya Defense Forces, tourists, students, farmers, environmental enthusiasts and community developers were drawn to our stand by our beautiful garden among other displays.


Did you know that about 70% of the food we consume globally comes from small scale farmers? Well, many of them arrived at our stand eager to learn how they can increase their yields and open a door for biodiversity into their farm. “We are tired with unending chemical use in our farms. Our farms have become so unhealthy” said one farmer. The pungent smell from a natural liquid fertilizer we had prepared was one of the striking exhibits that drew the attention of many. This is where the rubber met the road. As days rolled by, questions on farming and conservation were asked. It was our pleasure to quench this thirst for knowledge.


Finally, the message was home; “You can increase your food production as you care for the whole creation.”‘Wow! Good job” “ARK is recreating the garden of Eden!’These were some of the reactions we got from different individuals which convinced us that, many would start relying on natural fertilizers, natural pesticides and would plant more wildlife friendly trees in their farms.

The following Monday we were welcomed by the 1-2-3 calls of the Rupell’s Robin chat reminding us that we were back to our offices in Karara. The show was over; we thank God for His grace throughout that period. For all those who missed out, see you next year! Kwaheri.




Maybe it’s the clear blue waters, maybe it’s the sunshine, maybe it’s the brilliant instructor or it’s probably just the thrill of the ride; but there is a brand new hot sport in Watamu- Kite surfing. One avid surfer I talked to called it the sport of Kings and queens.   This has gotten the better of my curiosity in the last few months as tens of kites surfers rolled in to surf the waters just in my backyard at Mwamba field study centre.

Recently, the near shore has been dotted with colourful kites as avid surfers glide away on the water. The surfers can be easily spotted in nicely tanned skin courtesy of the hours they spend in the sun and harnesses that attach their kites as they blissfully give themselves to the mercy of the wind. Did you know there are all kinds of tricks that you could do when kite surfing from basic jumps and back rolls, to kite loops? And that is not all; there are all sorts of fancy gadgets to record your speed, height of jumps and other interesting data that you can compare with your friends. Kite surfers lean on each other just as much as they lean on the wind. They have buddies/partners looking out for each other in the water just in case you need a hand.


It is always a little comical to see a surfer in his beginner lesson; struggling to control the kite getting used to the harness, crashing into the water unceremoniously or basically trying and failing a hundred times  just to stand on his board. But worry not; I hear that it is not a very difficult sport to pick up. With good weather and consistent training you could surf in just a week! And once you got your feet steady and the wind in your kite, off you glide to your very own adventure in the waves.



“Mwamba Field study Centre is the ultimate place to stay if you ever want to catch the waves either for a long holiday or maybe just a weekend,” Say Angela and Dan who stayed at Mwamba for a month just for kite surfing.  The accommodation is pocket friendly with a laid back atmosphere and terrific meals to complete the picture. The kite surfing school is also a walking distance from Mwamba.  And better yet, the best spot for kite surfing is right in our back yard.  Watamu offers a terrific place for flat water and wave surfing so it is a thrill for both beginners and advanced kite surfers. You could also catch the crazy downwind and surf beyond the reef crest to Malindi from Watamu like a group of kite surfers did recently and there is always the pleasure of watch turtles swim by.  Besides the kite surfing you also contribute to environmental conservation by staying with us as all proceeds are used in conservation activities. So come down to Watamu, relax, give back to nature and of course bring your kite along and KITE SURF!!

By Marxine Waite

A personal initiative in managing our beaches

A few weeks ago on the International Coastal Cleanup Day, volunteers gathered along the coasts all over the world to collect marine debris and raise awareness on marine trash. We have all heard about this problem or seen photos of filthy beaches. We know about the pacific garbage patch and how plastics are harming the oceans and just to add you a little more in case you didn’t know already microplastics are causing more harm to marine creatures than the trash we mostly collect on the beach, I am not saying we stop collecting trash I am saying the problem is extending to a danger zone we cannot handle.


Every year the statistics points to more volunteers and more trash collected and concerns have been raised that cleanups only would not solve this problem and that more aggressive and workable strategies should be employed. Recently the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) through the Global programme of Action of Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities launch a Massive Open Online Course on marine litter as well as raise awareness of this problem. The scientists have been asked to investigate where all this trash is coming from. This could be a great point to stop the source of the problem but really don’t we know where flip flops, plastic bottles or glass bottles come from?


We all think it’s somebody else’s fault that beaches are littered with plastics.  We use them in our day to day lives, but we don’t care where they end up in. We have many problems facing the worlds’ oceans currently, but marine is one we can easily solve (though there is need to emphasize in the long run) by simply being cautious with actions. How often do you see people throw trash on the road? We carry water bottles and snacks wrappers to our trip to the beach, leave them there and later complain the next time we find the beach littered with wrappers.

Easy to say your action will not have any impact but it will. Don’t do it and next time tell you friend not to do it. At the end of the day we will have cleaner beaches, less trash in the ocean and less creatures getting strangled by plastics and other debris.


The fate of our Important Bird Areas…

Arabuko Sokoke forest is the only remaining strip of what used to be health and continuous Coastal dry forest in mainland Africa stretching from Northern Mozambique to Southern Somalia. With an area of only 420km square remaining, the forest still remains to be very important for conservation to both local and international. Being a unique forest of its own nature, it’s very rich in biodiversity (biodiversity hotspot) sheltering a number of globally threatened wildlife including the indigenous African plants, butterflies, mammals and birds. In fact, the forest is a home to six globally threatened bird species such as Sokoke Scops Owl, Sokoke Pipit, East Coast Akalat, Spotted Ground Thrush, Amani Sunbird and Clarkes Weaver.

These Birds require special habitat conditions and are unevenly distributed across the six vegetation types of the forest of both the natural and plantations. The Sokoke Scops Owl; the smallest of all owls in Africa prefers Cynometra vegetaion type of the forest and is believed to be breeding within these territories while the Clarkes weaver spend its entire life feeding in the Brachystagia and mixed vegetation sections of the forest. Both Spotted Ground Thrush and Sokoke Pipit prefer feeding on the undergrowth. They are all very special birds to watch and in return attracts many birders from all walks of life. They all depend on the welfare and contributions of plants and other forest wildlife as a whole for their thriving and breeding. Together, they all co-exist to form up this forest ecosystem whose resources has been pressurized through unsustainable exploitation.

Human pressure on forest resources and products for various uses are accelerating each new day putting Arabuko sokoke forest and adjacent twin forested section of Gede Ruins National Monument at a situation that is alarming for conservation. For the last three months, we have destroyed over 100 snares and recorded over 120 stumps of cut stems in Gede Ruins. It’s a shame even to see snares in a twenty year old regenerated forest within the ruins. This year, over 400 snares have been destroyed and 500 fresh cut stems found and mapped.


Most of the animals targeted are suni, duikers, bush buck, endangered African elephants and protected elephant shrews. Manilkara sansibarensis is the highly targeted tree species for timber and the remaining used for charcoal burning. The highly favored wood carving plant species (Dalbergia melanoxylon) is not readily available due to over exploitation and have now turned to Cynometra webberi (the lonely home to critically endangered Sokoke Scops Owl) for the same purposes. Logging for local house construction accounts for less than 5% of the cut stems which implies that plats related forest resources are harvested majorly for commercial purposes whereas snaring for small animals goes to domestic consumption while bigger animals like elephants products are aimed at international markets. In one survey with communities, we were shocked to discover over 80 fresh cut stems of Manilkara sansibarensis within an area of 300 meters by 200 meters and as close as 100meters from the main road. A quick glimpse from the road side will convince you that all is well but make just few yards inside and you are deemed for a shock of the year.


However, all is not lost as communities around the forests have ganged up to conserve or protect if need be after a series of capacity building workshops with them. With about fifty two villages surrounding Arabuko sokoke forest and three surrounding Gede Ruins, we can be sure of saving the remaining special habitats for homes of endangered wildlife. Unless everyone stands up for the same course, then we shall realize a better tomorrow.

Eliminating the villain – Lantana Camara


Lantana camara

Originating from Mexico, Lantana camara of the Verbanacea family was introduced to Kenya in 1930. Since its introduction as an ornamental shrub, the invasive Lantana camara has spread to most parts of the Kenyan ecosystems including rangelands, wetlands, natural and planted forests, agricultural lands, urban areas, among others.

Research has showed that Lantana camara is an insidious invasive shrub of global significance in the conservation and restoration of biodiversity. Due to its allelopathic nature, it tends to push out native plants, suppress their growth and limit their productivity. The locals have inadequate knowledge about it and most livestock also find it unpalatable hence it spreads rapidly covering vast areas including arable lands. In Kenya, evidence has it that several species of antelopes are being lost and this is traced to Lantana camara taking over their habitats. ‘’A Rocha Kenya’s principle on Lantana camara is that it should be eliminated at all costs. We have really fought it in Karara Forest and continue to fight it in Dakatcha Woodlands, Ngong hills Forest, and wherever it is. It is alien and one of the most stubborn and invasive weeds in Kenya.’’ said Dr. Raphael Magambo , National Director.

Biological and chemical methods of controlling lantana have been unsuccessful. The only method that is showing positive results is physically uprooting it- this is labour intensive and time consuming. So who is willing to do all this?

group eliminating lantana

A group eliminating lantana

Hope lies in the hands of the affected communities. But how do we get them on board? Clearly there seems to be more information on the negativity of lantana than its positives, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any good that can come from it- this good is the incentive that is getting the communities engaged in eliminating it.

In Kajiado and Kilifi Counties, A Rocha Kenya (ARK) is working with communities to uproot Lantana that is choking their ecosystems. After trainings on the benefits they can derive from lantana, the communities are now actively uprooting it and converting it into profitable forms to improve their livelihoods. In Ngong, many people would prefer burning the lantana as a means of controlling it but now most of them are beginning to use its leaves to make liquid fertilizers for their farms since they are high in Nitrogen. This has helped curb the risk of forest fires. The vegetative parts are also being used as mulch in farms, making compost manure, and the stems used for making artisanal products like chicken houses.


Chicken house


A group making compost with lantana leaves

By doing this, it is slowly being wiped out. At Karara Field Study Center, we are using cut lantana branches as a shade for our tree nursery garden.

Despite these uses, we are discouraging people from introducing it in their localities. And where it has already invaded, let us uproot and use it wisely.




The Power of Team Work…..TIME OUT well spent

Even through the aroma of the tantalizing samosas Mathias the chef had prepared for the team, you could still smell the excitement in the room. This was indeed a special day. It looked like a great reunion filled with handshakes, patting backs and laughter as the A Rocha Kenya family from around the country piled into the Mwamba dining room. We were even privileged enough to have a volunteer from A Rocha France. It is incredible that we all seemed to keep time, 6.00 am sharp and it was almost a full house; defying the old adage of African timing.

What better way to start the day than a long overdue lesson on creation care, reminding us of our role in the world. This was a stark reminder that what we do is not just mere conservation, but rather it goes beyond the physical. It is spiritual; it is indeed the will of God. Not even a little choppy water could deter us from snorkelling which was activity number two for the day. Even after some coaching and pep talk on safety from our marine scientist, you could literally see the apprehension on most of our faces. Well, most of us are comfortable on land than in water. Still people put their courage hats on and struggled to get their masks right and floaters were handed out. All this uneasiness was soon forgotten as some of us for the very first time had a peep of the blue world under the waves; Myriads of colours of tiny and big fish, corals; some massive and some branching like hundreds of little fingers and sea weeds and anemones that danced in the waves. Lizard fish crouched in the sand and the occasional ray swam by. Beautiful does not even begin to describe the sights we saw, we could only gaze in awe at God’s wonderful works.



Time for rugby!!  Did I mention this was in the water? What fun this was! The exercise was funny, exhausting and competitive. I think this should be an official Olympic sport. A mixture of barred teeth, glaring eyes and weird grunts filled the play area as the teams put out their most competitive edge. So we sweated and panted and scrimmaged for the ball, a scratch there an elbow here… sometimes we looked like one big messy tangle of limbs. Within twenty minutes of play, we knew what real hunger pangs were, and the whistle to mark the end of the game and time for lunch was all too welcome. Who would have ever thought that some people are faster when they are in a sack than on two legs?! Well this was evident as we all hopped around in the sack race and played many more games after lunch to build our team spirit.







But alas the games and fun and food and competition came to a close. With songs and prayer we gave thanks to God. At the end of the day we came out a stronger team, more united to the purpose and cause of the A Rocha family, and maybe we lost a couple of pounds from all that exercise!!