Monthly Archives: November 2015

Linda’s Samburu Story #3

Back in the car, we continue winding our way over the red earth, through the thorny trees and bushes to Longerded Well.  I recognize it in the distance from the big white greenhouse that I’ve seen in many TSP photographs.  There are only a few people around the well but we are greeted with smiling faces as is always the case when traveling with Lucas.

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This well serves about 800 people daily but also provides water for the agricultural project which will be planted later in November.  It is here we met Aldo, dressed in the traditional Samburu cloth on the bottom with a Western shirt on the top.  He speaks perfect English and is quite happy to make our acquaintance.  Aldo is Samburu but spent four years living in East London married to a British woman before moving back to this area. He tells me how much he loves and misses Chinese and Italian food and how grateful he is for the well. Samburu continues to be full of surprises for me.

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Lucas gets a call that the well drilling rig has been spotted in Archer’s Post and we are off to take a look.  Like children on Christmas Eve, we want just a peek at Santa Claus.  He’s coming and he’s driving a very big truck that says WaterLink.

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IMG_6600We are all very happy that tomorrow drilling will start.  Lucas has some preparations to make before tomorrow and takes us back to the lodge. Passing through Archer’s Post, we see school children walking home, and this, another Samburu surprise.

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Back through the gate of the Samburu National Reserve, it’s magic hour and we are greeted by some beautiful sights – magic hour, indeed!

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Linda’s Samburu Story #2

It is HOT in Samburu. The weather widget on our phone says it is 90 degrees, and it’s the end of October. Lucas informs us that we are still waiting for the well drilling rig to be operable but he will give us a tour of the area and two other TSP well communities.  It is best to get an early start to avoid the afternoon heat and to see the wells in full action. Lucas picks us up at 9am and off we go. He tells us that he saw about 8 elephants on the road to our camp this morning. I hope they are still there when we pass by that spot.  Sad for us, they have moved on but but we do come across a lone giraffe – a nice way to start the morning. We exit through the gate of the Samburu National Reserve, past the local “Duty Free Shop,” over the dusty, rocky, lava etched road back toward the main highway.  We pass a animal crossing sign with images of elephants, giraffe, zebra and baboons as we work our way toward Archer’s Post.

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Archer’s Post is a bustling town of 6,000 people that hosts businesses and stores of all kinds; hair shops, butcheries, refreshment establishments, lodgings, a bank with an ATM, a Saturday market and several churches. Archer’s Post serves as a general store for whatever one might need in this neck of the woods.
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We arrive at the Loosupulai Well where there are thousand of animals; cows, goats, donkeys, camels and a few dogs. So many animals I can hardly see the well itself.

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There are a group of men happy to greet us, including Jackson, a handsome man with a blue hat and a beautiful smile. He speaks very good English.  With a wink and a smile, he tells us that he learned English in the bush which cracks us up. Later he confesses that he had 3 years of school and seems quite proud to be able to converse with us. He explained to me that they have devised a very organized system for using the well; livestock begin drinking at 4am. Each household has a designated time to use the well and this goes until mid day, after which the women return to collect water for home use. This continues until 11pm. The well is being used from 4am – 11pm every day, 7 days a week. The community estimates this well provides clean water to 2,000 people each day and approximately 5,000 animals.  The men express their gratitude for the water and ask me to take their Thank Yous back to everyone at The Samburu Project.

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Women and children of all ages are taking turns pumping water. OMG – did that goat just give birth? Yes it did. That’s not something this LA girl sees everyday. As you look around it is obvious to see how the well is effecting the community. We see a little girl washing clothes and a mother giving her toddler a bath. I can’t help but ponder what would they do without this well?

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Lucas introduced me to Nikini at this well.  She tells me that she comes to the well twice a day, once to water her animals and again in the afternoon to get water for her family. Before this well she would leave her house at 6 in the morning and return at 4pm in the afternoon in search of water, sometimes encountering elephants and lions along with way. Since this well was installed, her life has changed in so many ways for the better.  She sends two of her five children to school now which makes her very happy. She is grateful for all the people who did this for her and her community.
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As we are about to leave, someone has shown up with a herd of camels and that new borne goat is now walking, chasing it’s mother for milk.  It’s just another day at the Loosupulai Well.  Off to the Longerdad Well next.

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Linda’s Samburu Story #1

I left Los Angeles days ago. Twelve hours flying to London, another eleven flying to Nairobi, 4 hours sleep and then up again at 5am to make an 8am Air Kenya flight to Samburu which would take another hour and a half. As we leave the skyscrapers and traffic of the developing world behind, Mt. Kenya emerges on the horizon. Another half hour and the earth begins to turn a deep red that I’ve see in the American west and Hawaii. Are those giraffe below us? Yes, they are. Five years, approximately 30 hours and I am finally here, in Samburu.

The Kalama Airstrip in Samburu.

The Kalama Airstrip in Samburu.

As we approach the airstrip I can see Lucas waving up at me. I can’t believe I am finally here. Lucas informs us that there is a change of plans. The well drilling rig has a broken part. Someone has been dispatched to Nairobi to get a replacement. (If only we knew, we could have brought it.) We will wait another day for the well drill to begin. In the meantime, we are off to visit the Ntilal #1 Well and to meet the people of that community.

As we head off the main road, we are struck by the magnificent landscape and the bluest sky above. We proceed through the red dirt until we see a huge tree with a protective ring of dried thorny twigs around it. Lucas pulls over and tells me this “structure” is why he works for TSP. We get out of the car and enter the nursery school, the first of its kind in these parts. The students had all gone home for the day but their chalkboard told us that they had classes today. The date on the upper right read 10/20/2015 followed by multiplication tables. It wasn’t hard to imagine their smiling faces on the hand cobbled benches under the shade of the beautiful tree above. Nearby was a 3 walled structure that was their kitchen, also a byproduct of the TSP water. Considering less than 5% of Samburu are literate, this school was proof that TSP is engaged in life changing work for everyone in this community.

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In about 5 minutes, we approach the Ntilal #1 well where we find about a dozen children of various ages pumping water and washing clothes. Our presence was quite the surprise and a foreign, white lady was quite alien to them. Lucas explained that we were here from The Samburu Project and wanted to talk about water. It took a little while to break the ice with the shy, curious toddlers but a few high fives and we had started a game. Shortly we could see the women of the community approaching with their gerry-cans. Their brightly patterned kangas and beautiful beaded jewelry announced their presence. Mama Sarah, who seemed to be the oldest in this group was surprisingly gregarious. She has 9 children and was eager to hug me tightly and thank me for the water. I didn’t have to ask how the water has changed her life, it flowed out of her. She no longer had to walk miles and miles for water. This water is good, doesn’t make her sick. She can tend to her animals and her children now go to school. Life is good, thanks to us at The Samburu Project. Sarah wanted to send her greetings to Bob, my fellow board member and all the other people who helped drill this well. She told the story of sleeping at the well site when the rig pulled up in 2013. Staying there and praying until the clean water came out of the earth. Along with other ladies in this group, she broke into song and dance, as is the Samburu way to celebrate and say thank you.

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Mama Sarah in profile on left with members of the Ntilal #1 Well Community.

Mama Sarah in profile on left with members of the Ntilal #1 Well Community.

Sarah emphatically wanted me to know how greatly they appreciate EVERYTHING we are doing for them. I was so overcome that I fought back tears of joy. I have been telling any and everyone who would listen for 5 years about the work TSP is doing here and now, for the first time, I am seeing our work with my own eyes and feeling in my heart the connection with these ladies. It took a while to remember that I was also here to do a job..ask questions! Right! I ask Sarah and the other ladies if any of them had experiences with wild animals. Yes! They replied, elephants were here this morning, you can see their footprints, droppings and the damage to the fence they made. When they saw the elephants this morning, they were scared and stayed in their homes until the elephants wandered off. They had already had a community meeting early in the afternoon to hatch a plan to repair the fence. The well is their lifeline, they will not stand for it being in jeopardy of being destroyed by more elephants!

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We took more photos and chatted through Lucas and an interpreter George. These ladies have a sister community that is desperate for a well and lobbied Lucas to help. By now the children were comfortable, wanting to touch my skin and red nails. One little girl kissed my hand before running off giggling. Is that a camel in the distance? We said our good-byes not before hoping we see each other again. Whew! There you have it. A day in the life of the Ntilal #1 well community, elephants in the morning and a curly-haired white lady with red nails in the afternoon. Life sure is full of surprises – for us all!  Stay tuned for more stories from Samburu.

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You can see video from this well community visit on The Samburu Project’s Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/samburuproject/

www.thesamburuproject.org

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