Caitlin Mittrick

Caitlin Mittrick is a graduate student at The George Washington University pursuing a Master of Arts degree in International Development Studies with a concentration in Humanitarian Assistance. Caitlin has a background in African affairs, having recently completed an internship at the Atlantic Council Africa Center and formerly serving as an intern at A Child for All. She is particularly passionate about examining the humanitarian-development nexus through the lens of localization to achieve sustainable, community-based solutions to global problems. Caitlin is excited to work with AP to develop an effective social media strategy that will promote the work of amazing partners from around the world.

Lions and Tigers and… Giraffes?!

09 Jun

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always felt a spiritual connection with nature and wildlife. For some, nature has a certain healing property. On Sunday, I felt the full power of those healing properties when Shield of Faith’s Project Coordinator Stella and her daughter Zawadi took me to Nairobi’s Safari Walk. Although I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, the experience certainly surpassed any and all expectations I could’ve had. 

Me and Stella at the entrance of the Safari Walk.

Immediately upon entering, we saw a pygmy hippopotamus. Already, I was encountering animals I had never seen before, and in some instances, never even knew existed. For example, have you ever heard of a colobus monkey? Never had I until Sunday. The black-and-white colobuses are characterized by their luscious locks that hang all over their body. The monkeys I saw had better hair than I do! Stella told me how, traditionally, certain ethnic groups in Kenya used the fur of the colobus monkey to make hats and clothes. Today, these beautiful creatures are threatened by habitat loss. In fact, many species in Kenya are threatened by habitat loss. This knowledge convinced me even further of the importance of Shield of Faith’s work, promoting sustainability through environmentally-friendly waste management and composting practices in informal settlements one step at a time. 

The pygmy hippo enjoying lunch!

The colobus monkey showing off its beautiful hair.

Stella, Zawadi, and I lucked out because we arrived at the Safari Walk right when the animals were being fed, which made for prime viewing angles. Luck was certainly in our favor that day because we even had the opportunity to feed a baby giraffe! The giraffe was being moved from one enclosure to the next, and the Kenya Wildlife Service employees allowed us and other visitors to come in close contact with the giraffe. Clearly, this giraffe was not fazed by crowds of humans as it strolled right through us, stopping for treats along the way. It truly was the experience of a lifetime! After seeing the giraffe, Stella and Zawadi started joking that I was their “good luck charm” because we were having such special encounters with the animals! 

Me feeding the giraffe. Contrary to the look on my face, I was overjoyed!

As we neared the exit to the Safari Walk, we noticed several people having their photographs taken wearing traditional Maasai clothing. After asking one of the photographers, we learned that they were taking the photos for visitors at only a small fee. Of course, Stella, Zawadi, and I couldn’t NOT have our photos taken! The photographer dressed me in the traditional Maasai clothing, and I’ve never felt more beautiful! With each new day, I’ve had the opportunity to learn more and more about the various ethnic groups in Kenya and their vibrant cultures. It was a great way to end a day spent in nature, surrounded by such beautiful creatures, each a steward of Mother Nature’s goodwill. I look forward to spending more time immersed in the Kenyan flora and fauna over these coming weeks.

Me and Zawadi in traditional Maasai clothing.

Posted By Caitlin Mittrick

Posted Jun 9th, 2023

Enter your Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *