Nurturing the minds and hearts of the next generation on safari

April 26, 2024

From the get-go, everything was seamless. We felt instantly comfortable because we knew we would be very well taken care of. We knew this would be the trip.” – Melanie Barrett, ROAR AFRICA guest

Few things make me happier than seeing joy radiating from our guests as they land in Africa and are swiftly wrapped in the warm, welcoming love that is so singular to ROAR AFRICA. A feeling of safety, belonging and homecoming settles one quickly.

On a recent spring break, The Barrett family from New York City descended into our care in Kenya and immediately felt at home. Oraine Barrett, fashion model and my personal trainer for twelve years, his wife Melanie and their two young girls, ages six and eight, were on their very first trip to Africa and going on safari.

This trip was as much a dream for me as it was for them. Over the years, Oraine and I have often compared life in NYC as immigrants hailing from Zimbabwe and Jamaica, sharing the challenges, joys, opportunities and aches for our home land and our people. As with all our guests, I wanted him and his young family to feel the deep pull to my people, the absolute awe at the beauty and the dizzy feeling of falling in love with life that being in the wild offers up.

Oraine summed up their journey beautifully: “When people go on these trips, they immediately think of the animals and of safari. For us, it was more than that. It was the whole picture. The people came first, the ROAR AFRICA team, the Segera team, the villagers, and the way they all made us feel. Africa is the land of all lands.”

To hear that the very essence of what we work so hard to translate – Africa’s beauty, truth and complexity while connecting people, was profoundly understood and felt so intensely by the Barrett family, especially by their young daughters, is all I could ask for.

Nature, our original playground

“In New York, I’m extremely busy, up at 5am and home at 9 or 10pm. The moment I landed in Kenya, I felt the workload, the pressure and the noise evaporate. At the lodge, I felt at one with nature – with the cool morning air and the animals who were so natural and calm. I felt at peace. Without distractions, screens and tight scheduling, time suddenly felt abundant. We wanted to take our time and soak it all in,” Oraine told me. Being in the wild created that space. From game drives, singing with “CheckCheck” the guide, fishing for the first time, football and family picnics, beading with the women of the SATUBO collective, and visiting tribes in nearby villages, the Barrett family connected with the local people, saying, “Everyone greeted us with so much love and passion. We hit it off right away.”

New friendships transcended language and culture; the Barrett girls and the children in the nearby village ran around the acacia trees, danced, sang and played together. This cross-cultural interaction was especially important for Melanie and Oraine, who, like all parents, want to share both the beauty and the complexity of the world with their children - “it’s important for our girls to understand that the world they currently live in New York City is not the summation of the world itself. We want them to have an understanding of the true nature of our global society. This trip was a huge experience for them.” What greater privilege is there than to spark imagination, excitement and empathy in the hearts and minds of the next generation - with nature as their playground and the wilderness as their teacher.

Connection as a path to empowerment

I always say that the wealth of the experience is the freedom within it. For that freedom to manifest requires artistry, precision, and depth of planning. Melanie felt an immense amount of freedom the minute she knew her family was in safe hands; she could just get on and enjoy fully immersing herself in the moment. Her conversations with local tribeswomen went far beyond pleasantries; they sat beneath the shady trees and shared stories of the highs and lows of their lives and daily experiences, leaving her with a feeling of empowerment she hadn’t expected. Feelings of love and connection to a people so foreign yet so similar.

Melanie said, “Coming back from Africa, I feel powerful. I want to keep the women and the kids in that village close tome. I felt something from them, and they from me.” The connection to the local people also ran deep for Oraine, who rooted back to his childhood passions and played soccer, a sport he traveled the world for as a teenager, with the local team. “Getting the opportunity to play soccer with the local team was incredible. The way they accepted me, showed me love and wanted to understand me and my culture...playing soccer, dust in the air, I just felt THIS IS IT,” “I loved it, I wish we could have more of this “acceptance” in America. Those guys made me feel like part of the team, like part of them.

Homecoming and expanding horizons

A subliminal energy innately draws us to Africa, the cradle of our humanity, the place we all began. That energy is precious and intangible, staying with you long after you leave. Two weeks after landing back into the buzz of New York City, Oraine video-called their Segera guide, “CheckCheck,” as he drove his girls to school on the Upper East Side. This time, the Barrett girls gave their former safari guide a tour of their world: Central Park, The Empire State Building and even their school introducing him to their teacher and classmates. How special to see that connection on both sides of the world. To foster understanding and expand the horizons of children is what true authentic travel is about. This trip realized a dream of mine: the Barrett’s got to experience my home, my people and the roar of love and welcome so inherent to my home continent.

Africa changes you. It recalibrates you every time. Its beauty moves you. Its love swallows you, and its connections nourish you. This continent is a tonic that defies all words - I have never known a greater place for a family vacation. Join us and let us open your eyes and fill your hearts. To learn more, kindly email us at

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