Background: In 1999, Brittany Retherford and Simon Gitau met on a National Outdoor Leadership School semester course in Kenya. Simon later became a mountain rescue officer in Mount Kenya National Park, working his way up the leadership ladder and eventually earning the post of Senior Warden of Mount Kenya National Park. For years, the two kept in touch until 2014 when Brittany returned to Kenya. At first, her plan was to simply visit an old friend, but was immediately struck by the urgency of the conservation crisis unfolding on the slopes of Mount Kenya. The dozens of rangers who patrol the thick forests of Mount Kenya are the first-line of defense against poachers who are robbing the mountain of precious trees and wildlife, yet these rangers struggle to do their jobs because of an inadequacy of gear and supplies.
Together, Brittany and Simon hatched a plan to harness the energy of a generous global community to assist the rangers of Mount Kenya National Park. When American friends Michelle Waterhouse and David Rogers heard of the plan, they too jumped on board, eager to help in any way they could.
The Crisis Facing Mount Kenya National Park: Mount Kenya National Park is one of the most stunning parks in all of Africa, with sweeping vistas from volcanic peaks, gnarly tussocks, and miles upon miles of rainforests that provide rich habitat to a diversity of wildlife. But with a rising black market for ivory, illegally-cut timber, and other natural resources found in it’s lush wilderness, Mount Kenya National Park is under constant siege. The first line of defense against these poachers are the rangers. These are brave men and women who patrol the mountain daily in search of illegal activity. They spend weeks at a time away from their families, often living in difficult conditions. Their lives are in constant danger.
Unfortunately, these rangers do their jobs with limited equipment and supplies.
This effort, which we call “The Lala Salama Project,” hopes to gather gear and supplies to support the rangers of Mount Kenya so that they can do their jobs better — and protect the stunning wilderness of Mount Kenya for generations to come. The phrase “lala salama,” inspiration for the project’s name, means “sleep well” in Swahili. It is also the name of a popular lullaby sung to Kenyan children. The idea behind this project is to help keep the men and women who work as wildlife rangers safe during their patrols so that they can return to their beds at night and sleep well.