Helping Nature and Culture Thrive in Kenya

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Sarah Liaram is the Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy (SRP) co-ordinator in Kenya, based at Sanctuary Olonana, and is part of the Masai community living on a private concession bordering the epic Masai Mara. Sanctuary Olonana was our very first safari camp in Africa and is a property where we have many outstanding projects in place.

We recently travelled to the Masai Mara to visit Sarah and her projects and here is an update on them.

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Sarah Liaram (Right)


Sarah helps run a Masai micro enterprise initiative with women’s groups to increase income from traditional beadwork. Visitors can either go to Olonana village to meet the women or else we can arrange for them to come to Sanctuary Olonana camp.

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Beadwork for sale

Building classrooms

One of the key projects is building classrooms and improving infrastructure in schools in the region of Sanctuary Olonana. This includes sponsoring school fees for 23 students who otherwise could not attend, an e-reader literacy programme and introducing local Masai children to their natural heritage.

As part of this programme as new school office and library at Enkereri was officially opened on 16 April 2016, in a ceremony attended by local community leaders and families, plus members of the Sanctuary Retreats team.

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Enkereri School opening

Rhino watch

Part of our education programme with local Masai villages is our initiative to take school children into the National Park to see and learn about the wildlife that lives in the National Park. Expert Sanctuary Retreats guides lead the visits and it’s the time to educate the children about elephants, lions, rhino etc. The children who are selected to join us are done so on the basis of their performance in the classroom so it works as an incentive for them to put in extra effort at school.

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Children viewing pride of lions (relaxing under tree)

Organic garden

The garden at the lodge is a long-standing facility that is used to provide organic herbs, salad and vegetable for both guest and staff meals. 

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Resident gardener Painito Chanzu

Plant a tree

Guests are invited to plant a tree at the lodges and the tree is labelled with their name and they can return and see the tree as it grows. The guest contribution for this is US$20 and this also allows us to plant a further saplings at local schools and villages. In the past year 700 trees have been planted at the lodge and a further 800 at local schools and vilages.

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Watering new sapling

Biogas and waste treatment

A treatment plant has been set-up at Sanctuary Olonana to produce biogas, for cooking, using waste. There is also a system in place to process black and grey water so that it can be cleaned and then released back in to the Mara River.

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Biogas project

In 2015 Sanctuary Olonana was awarded ‘Africa’s Leading Eco-lodge’ by the World Travel Awards (WTA) as recognition of the good work carried out at the lodge in recent years. This was based mainly on the work carried at the lodge itself, but now Sarah is now also working more the local communities to deliver education and health care we are delivering long-term help for people who live near the Sanctuary Olonana Camp

You can find out more about our philanthropy projects, and how you can get involved here.


 Terrace at Sanctuary Olonana