Meet ‘AY1’, our dedicated conservation car at Sasaab. This vehicle is invaluable to the Westgate Community and it’s all down to one incredible lady: Mrs Yu, or Arlene, as she was known to friends and family.

Arlene on safari in Kenya

Mrs Yu, who grew up in Shanghai and Hong Kong, had always dreamed of travelling to Africa. She embarked on her first safari to Kenya in the 1990s; this trip stole her heart. She caught the bug and came back many more times, holding a love for Africa that lasted the rest of her life. It was during a stay at Sasaab that Arlene fell in love with the work of our Footprint foundation and felt an overwhelming desire to help give back to the country, it’s wildlife and its people, in which she had found so much joy. She also had a lifelong passion for motor cars!

“She simply loved Africa and told everyone it is the most unique and special place on earth that one must visit and experience in person.”
~ Mrs Yu’s daughter

Therefore, in 2020 Mrs Yu decided to donate a conservation car to Sasaab. The car was specially adapted by our workshop to make it into the hardy and versatile vehicle needed for the myriad of important journeys it would undertake. It drives far and wide to help us run our Footprint foundation projects in the Samburu area and has been a huge asset to the whole Westgate community.

AY1 (Arlene-Yu-1) was a personalised licence plate given to her as a surprise 40th birthday gift from her husband. A few years ago, she decided it would be even more meaningful if it could make a difference in Africa. This led to her gifting the conservation car and much to Arlene’s delight, AY1 was painted on the bonnet.

Sasaab’s conservation car, or AY1 as it is known, drives far and wide to help us run our Footprint projects in the Samburu area.

Conservation car donated by Arlene

AY1 is a car of many talents. When needed, it becomes a community ambulance and has saved many lives, including transporting women in labour. It also turns into a school bus to take our girl conservation scholars to boarding school at the start and end of term.

AY1 collecting our Conservation Scholars from Westgate Community on their last day of school 2022

During times of drought, AY1 has been lent to the Grevy Zebra Trust to assist with their supplementary feeding programme, helping keep Grevy’s zebras alive. It ferries community members to and from important meetings and helps in the running of our annual free dental and eye clinics for the Samburu community. It has been, and will continue to be, indispensable.

AY1 delivering supplies for one of our medical clinics

Sadly, Arlene passed away in February 2023. Her memory lives on for us in Sasaab’s conservation car and her legacy continues to make a difference to people throughout Westgate Community and at Sasaab. Safari was a precious experience for Arlene, she loved the simplicity and stillness of it in contrast to the chaotic daily lives many of us lead. In Africa, she felt at peace and was fascinated by the discipline in nature and what the natural world can teach us.

Mrs Yu’s legacy

Mrs Yu on a game drive at Sala’s Camp

Mrs Yu’s experiences on safari meant a great deal to her and her family continues her legacy with their generous support of our Footprint foundation.

If you’re interested in supporting impactful initiatives in Kenya, visit our Footprint foundation and see how you can help.