By Catherine Njoki Karanja and Liz Makimaro from Kenya 

August 9, 2015

A day set to be different from all other summer school days. Preparations for the day began early in the week with the entire team looking forward to spend the free day at the Botanical gardens in Bogor and later shopping at the factory outlets and the ‘black market’.For me travelling in the ‘boys only’ car was exciting as loud music and dancing carried throughout the trip to the garden.

The walk in the garden was also not void of special moments.  The park was green, the lawns well kempt; the air fresh and filled with music from birds and people. The time spent at the garden was special to each person based on their interests. For most of the European participants the garden vegetation, lawns and quietness of the space was memorable while for the African Participants what was most intriguing was the random requests for pictures by strangers. With requests flaring from children, girls, boys and their parents we took loads of picture – guess my jaw would hurt from the smiling! Seems that Africans are rare in Indonesia and as Dilla would say “enjoy the attention before you are back to your countries”; we indeed basked in the moment.

The highlight of the day were the moments spent at the Grand Garden Hotel inside the park. Sitting in the nature themed hotel was so refreshing and eating their food was the closest I came to being back at home after my two weeks stay Indonesia. The eating, storytelling was completed by taking pictures from selfies to ‘groundies’ and listening to Indonesian music played by a Jazz band. Summer school is mentally engaging but also fun and a very good platform for building relationships with others.

The day would have been incomplete without shopping; an opportunity awaited by many to buy gifts for their loved ones as well as spoil themselves with some Indonesian brands. To the factory outlet we went and spent the rest of the afternoon hopping from one outlet to another. After a long day we gathered to start our journey to PGI – our home for the last two weeks. Back to PGI and the day is written down in History as one that tested our patience for one another but also as one that taught us practical lessons about pluralism.

Bonding with Nature

“Walking inspires and promotes conversation that is grounded in the body, and so it gives the soul a place where it can thrive.  I think I could write an interesting memoir of significant walks I have taken with others, in which intimacy was not only experienced but set fondly into the landscape of memory.  When I was a child, I used to walk with my Uncle Tom on his farm, across fields and up and down hills.  We talked of many thing, some informative and some completely outrageous, and quite a few very tall stories emerged on those bucolic walks.  Whatever the content of the talking, those conversations remain important memories for me of my attachment to my family, to a remarkable personality, and to nature.” 

 -Thomas Moore, Soul Mates-


Catherine Njoki Karanja (Kenya) is an MA Development Communication student at Daystar University in Kenya and works as a Junior Programme Officer Green Society for Hivos East Africa; She is passionate about communication for social change and development. 

Liz Makimaro (Kenya) has long term experience in social justice work through grant-making and works as Programme Assistant at Hivos Office East Africa in Kenya