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  • Amanda Perrett

Cameleer feature: SIMON

As children, our son Josh had run wild on the farm with three boys of his own age, one of whom was Barabara, and another was Simon's father, Dong, our cook. These boys taught Josh many of his bush skills that have held him in such good stead all his career and life.

Dong began his job with us as our cheetah companion at the age of 7. He had a hearing problem caused by ear infections, so his family thought he was simple and sent him out to work. He gained huge respect from the rest of the team through his cheetah-handling ability and is now one of our trusted assistants. A gentle soul who gradually progressed to "Kitchen Toto", then cook, although cooking was not something he enjoyed doing, and became famous in our circles for his dreadful watery, tasteless "Dong stews" and burnt biscuits! However, this has changed, and his son, Simon, or Simeo as the team calls him, has turned out to have a natural talent in the kitchen - presumably learned from his father. The youngest in the team, this is Simon's second big trip as camp cook.


His grandmother was my first employee when we moved back to the farm in 1982 to start rabbit farming. She had an 18-month-old child on her back, the same age as Josh, who was the fourth of her consequently 7 children, all of whom now work in places of responsibility for different members of our family. She said she needed the money to help support the growing family and asked if she could look after the rabbits. She remained with us caring for one animal or person after another until her untimely passing due to cancer.

Her husband, Simon's grandfather, was a goat herder on the farm, and, like Barabara's father, started work with my father at the time of the purchase of the farm. Both parents came from prominent Njemps families from Baringo, Simon's grandmother being head of the Njemps clan that worked on the farm.

Simon's mother's mother was my mother's gardener until my mother's passing. Simon began working for us in the school holidays as the milk recorder in the dairy, keeping accurate records and payments and caringly looking after orphan calves before being brought into camel safari work after school.

Kathy and Bev first met Simon during Lalmba Canada’s Tembea Na Mimi walk in 2022. Simon was so shy in those days that we didn’t realize he spoke English until about day 8 of the 10-day safari! But we soon realized that not only could he speak English, but he spoke it very well. During that trip, he was assisting in the kitchen, and now he is the head cook for our trip and takes great pride in his work. He proudly announced that he is the only one who cooks for the wageni (guests) and is doing an amazing job creating outstanding meals on an open fire. He even managed to cook a birthday cake on the fire - amazing!! We helped one-night preparing chapati. Each piece of wood on the fire is like a number on a stovetop; removing or adding wood to regulate the temperature exactly. This takes cooking to a whole new level!!!

Simon is a very caring man and so helpful to us and the whole team. He also assists with the camels when he is not cooking. Spending this time with him fills our hearts and our stomachs!

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