Tag Archives: wells

Samburu Stories: Laresoro Community Well, Yasin’s Story.

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Yasin Lekomon lives just 200 meters from the Laresoro well.  At 36, Yasin has seven children. The oldest, 20, is now a shepherd taking care of the family goats, far from here. The others are in the school, except for her 3 year old who does not separate from her.

“Before we had to walk very far to get dirty and dark water, like a soup of clay, that we collected with a lot of patience, and we carry back to our house. We spent practically all day working to get the water”. Now she comes to the well each morning, and collects as much water as she needs, for the family and also for the cattle.  “I go to sleep peacefully every night.  I know that tomorrow I will get up and I will have water. Before  the well, sometimes, I could not sleep wondering if I was going to be able to collect enough water the next day. “

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The life of Yasin and all the families living in this area and even the families that have settled here after the opening of the well, has changed radically.  From spending almost all daylight hours busy getting and transporting water, the women can now experience the incredible feeling of being able to dedicate the day to other activities, take care of their children, play with them; cook without being in a hurry and having meals that are more tasty and healthy; meet in the shade of the trees to chat with other women while they make their wonderful necklaces of beads.   Yasin tells me, blushing, as if she felt guilty to admit it, “to rest for a few moments when the sun is at its highest in the sky and makes breathing difficult.”  All that, before the well, was simply impossible.

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Drinking water without limits and without fear of contracting diseases. This is, undoubtedly, the main advantage of the well, but it is by no means the only one. The health of these communities has undergone a huge qualitative leap: the incidence of diarrhea, cholera and other serious diseases that were common before has dropped dramatically, and the toilet and cleaning habits have changed radically.  Yasin does not have a doubt about it and tells me that one of the things she likes most about life “after the well” is to be able to wash the clothes and enjoy its beautiful and bright colors. Before our clothes had only one color, the brown color of the earth.”

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The well has made me happy, and the only thing I would like is to get more wells drilled in the area. Many, many people from the area come here once they find out about this well, and sometimes we are too many to collect water. The next well should be on the other side of the river.”  It is then that I realize that the immense road of fine dusty sand passing by the Laresoro well is the bed of a dry river.

Stay tuned for more Samburu Stories as we introduce you to other families in the Laresoro well community who benefit from clean water because of The Samburu Project and donors like you.

 

This Samburu Story was written by Cristina Saura samburuSTORIES_logo_gray

and features photographs by Mamen Saura.

Go to http://www.thesamburuproject.org to read more

Samburu Stories and join the global TSP family to

provide clean water to families in Samburu, Kenya.  

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Samburu Stories: Laresoro Community Well

20140616_Samburu_Laresoro_070After driving about 30 minutes from Archers Post we arrived at the well of the Laresoro Community, our first visit. From the sand, under the shade of the acacias, a wide pipe emerges. On one side a lever to pump, on the other the pipe, and at its feet a small ditch. Here is the miracle of water. The well serves numerous communities in the surrounding area; many women and children are waiting for us, smiling and welcoming. They greet us affectionately with the Maa salutation, “sopa,” in a festive atmosphere. The women sing and dance to give us a warm welcome and their children, suspicious at the first instance, stare at us hiding behind the cheerful clothes of their mothers, clinging to their kangas. 

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This well serves a community of about 1,500 people. Women who previously used to walk up to 8 hours a day to get the water essential to be able to subsist, have, for the last three years, access to clean water in abundance, walking now between 5 and 30 minutes. This is the case of Lingoine Lekoloi, a petite woman, with a smile so sweet that it’s impossible to not smile back while you listen to her, wants to talk to me.   She is here with her little one Mbaa, a 4 year old boy and the youngest of 5 siblings. While Mbaa pushes his toy, a roadrunner with rudimentary wheels made by his older brother with acacia twigs, Lingoine tells me that she comes twice every day, once at dawn and again at dusk to fill a 15-liter bottle. “I am extremely happy with the well. It has provided so much relief.” Drinking water without limits and without fear of contracting diseases is, undoubtedly, the main advantage of the well but it is by no means the only one. The health of the community has undergone a huge qualitative leap – the incidence of diarrhea, cholera and other serious diseases that were common before has dropped dramatically, and the toilet and cleaning habits have changed radically.

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I ask her to tell me her daily routines. The first thing she does in the morning is to bathe her children and prepare them to go to school, after that she serves breakfast (milk or tea) to the family and goes to fetch firewood, cleans her hut, and goes to the well to wash. She prepares the food, ”rests” a little while she works with the color beads. Then she takes care of the cattle off-spring, review the boma’s fence and return to the well one more time for water. By then it will be around six o’clock in the evening, when men return with the animals. Then she milks the goats and offers the milk to the whole family, collects the cattle and stores the excess milk after she sterilizes and flavors it with burnt branches (an ancestral technique that, she explains, keeps the milk in good condition for up to five days).  Lingoine’s story makes me think of the universal multitasking ability of women and suddenly I need to explain that, despite all the distances that separate us, I find great similarities between our lives … she laughs.

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Stay tuned for more Samburu Stories as we introduce you to other families in the Laresoro well community who benefit from clean water because of The Samburu Project and donors like you.

 

This Samburu Story was written by Cristina Saura samburuSTORIES_logo_gray
and features photographs by Mamen Saura.
Go to http://www.thesamburuproject.org to read more
Samburu Stories and join the global TSP family to
provide clean water to families in Samburu, Kenya.  

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“If you want to get somewhere fast, go alone. If you want to go the distance, take a team.” –Ancient African Proverb (or so I was told)

Some of you might remember from earlier posts that when I was in Samburu last year  I enjoyed the hospitality and accommodation of the Sarova Shaba Lodge.  It is a lovely spot, slightly inside the Samburu National Park along the Ewaso Ngiro River where elephants and other wildlife often come to drink at sunrise and sunset.  While there, I met a number of lovely people who greeted me with open arms when I arrived back again this summer.

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Moses Mathenge and me with Lodge Manager, Josphat Ndegwa

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Moses Lekomet, and his beautiful smile.

When I had a problem with a flight last year, Moses Mathenge  introduced me to Carol Ndegwa from AirKenya.  Carol helped me with my flight problem, was a lovely dinner companion at Shaba and has come to be a good friend to The Samburu Project. AirKenya is now the official airline sponsor of The Samburu Project due to her efforts.

Going on safari to Samburu is probably a 2 or 3 day excursion for most visitors.  I don’t think many guests have the opportunity to stay for more than a week as I have.  This truly has given me an opportunity to get to know Josphat Ngali, “Chicken George,” Moses Lekomet and the other lovely staff at Sarova Shaba.  They have made my time in Samburu seem like home and have truly become friends to me, Lucas, Eric and everyone associated with TSP.

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After a particularly long day at dinner regaled Josephat with the story of our day, traveling several hours through the deep bush to discover that a HUGE tree had fallen on the well.  We all stared at it in amazement before we could even get out of the car. There were still a few people milling about and lots of donkeys drinking from the trough.  It was quite a shock!

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I went on and on about how the community would ever be able to get that tree removed, never anticipating Josphat would, without hesitation, offer to send a man with a chain saw to cut away the tree.  TSP and the people at the Lerug well were blessed twice!  Once that the tree did not damage the pump and secondly, that our friends at Sarova Shaba Lodge offered themselves to assist with this problem.  We could not have cleared this tree without the generous spirit of our friends at Sarova Shaba Lodge.

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Once again, I was overcome with the impact that this tiny organization is having by really uniting people in so many ways, every day.  For me, that is the true meaning of globalization. While I was in Kenya I was told “if you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go the distance, go with a team.”  I’m so happy and gratified that the good people at Sarova Shaba are on the TSP team and we are on theirs. Ashe Oleng to everyone there.

Bonus Footage: Click here to meet the one and only “Chicken George” of Sarova Shaba Lodge.

https://youtu.be/xYDjPmb_qjI

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Hello Aldo

I met Aldo Lesuutia last fall when I spent time at the  the Lekiji community during their well drill.  You might remember reading that Aldo showed up one morning and never left my side. To say that Aldo is an unusual person is a bit of an understatement. Aldo grew up in Samburu East but as a young man, headed for Mombasa where he met and fell in love with an English tourist. They married and he subsequently spent four years living in East London where he was introduced to Chinese and Italian food, the underground, and a vastly different life than he knew in Kenya.  Eventually he returned to his tribal community where he is now married with a new baby and occasionally cooks Italian food for his family.

Aldo is one of the many Samburu volunteers that work directly with TSP in the local community.  He is always available to report on the goings-on in the community and the status of our wells. As you can imagine, Aldo’s understanding of western culture and command of the English language are invaluable to The Samburu Project (and who can resist his smile and keen fashion sense). Aldo sends a big Thank You to all the TSP donors and supporters for the water wells they are providing in Samburu East.

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Saipani and Aldo Lesuutia.

 

 

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Lunch with Elephants

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Samburu is home to some big, beautiful herds of elephants.  Tourists come to Samburu just to see them. When you see elephants in their natural habitat it is exhilarating.  That sight never gets old. They are magnificent creatures.  Here at The Samburu Project, we’ve heard many times that elephants are a major threat to our wells. They need water too and when their highly efficient trunks smell water, they try to get it. It’s terrifying and dangerous for anyone at a well.  Sometimes, where these threats exist, the communities construct a fence of spiky bushes around the well to keep these magnificent creatures at bay.  Imagine our reaction when we came across the site of two elephants having lunch right next to our well near the Sere Olipi Trading Center.

This is a site that is not deep in the bush. In fact, it is right along side a major roadway and close to town.  We were able to get out of the car for a brief well inspection but Eric insisted we not stray too far or call too much attention to ourselves.  Elephants pose a real challenge to our work.   I felt lucky to have witnessed this sight with my own eyes after hearing about it for so many years and am happy to share the photo with our supporters. It is an excellent illustration of the challenges we face working in this remote but beautiful area. 

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Linda’s Samburu Story #6

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I am up early and head out for what surely will be BIG WATER day.  Lucas arrives and reports that things are progressing well and that big water is waiting for us.  As we arrive at the site, I can already see water starting to flow from the drill. After about an hour, Charles can tell we are hitting the second aqua fir.  We all stand in the ready, old men, kids, our crew, waiting for the moment.  Anticipation is building, camera is ready, we are all focused on the drill and the wet soil.

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More drips, more drips until THERE IT IS!!!  A huge gush of water begins to pour out of the drill!  It sprays us and the kids start to smile and laugh and the old men have a look of astonishment! Paul and I hug with relief and joy in our hearts.  The Likitje well has water! As I watched the water flow, I thought back to Splash Bash 2014 and all our friends in Santa Monica and elsewhere who support our work.  I wish they were here to share this moment.

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It didn’t take but about 10 minutes before people started showing up with their jerry cans. Lucas explained to them that we still have much work to do; pour a concrete pad, install the actual pump, test the water and put a fence around it, before it would be ready to use. It didn’t matter, knowing water would be clean and available was cause for joyous celebration.  Once again, I was serenaded and danced with in celebration of this glorious day!

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Oh what Joy!   I think about the long process that Lucas, Paul and Karioke (our hydro-geologist) went through all year to identify the well locations.  I think of Kristen and Kiki who work so hard in the Santa Monica office; the board who are giving their time and constantly pitching the TSP case for support to their friends to keep the organization going.  I think of the countless volunteers who do whatever is asked of them to pitch in, and the well funders who make it all happen.  I think of them all at this exact moment.  In the course of the last year, there have been so many people who have played a role in making this moment happen, people who might never know each other but are a part the The Samburu Project.  All of these people ARE the Samburu Project.  My heart is full with the feeling that we did this!

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I also can’t help but think of the communities in Samburu who have applied to TSP for a well and are still waiting. I am thinking about these little babies, knowing that because of us, they will grow up without ingesting waterborne diseases on a daily basis, that they will go to school and grow up and chase their dreams, just like us.  I am hoping that our good fortune will continue for the remaining 9 wells we are going to drill this year and beyond.  I am hopeful that TSP will grow and thrive for the next 10 years.  But for now, in this moment, my heart is full with the knowledge that we did this!  I’m so lucky to have been here, on the other side of the globe to meet these people and share this moment with them.  Water is Life! Drink it up!

 

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Linda’s Samburu Story #5

You hear the words “pole-pole (pronounced po-lay, po-lay)” a lot in Kenya.  This translates as “slowly slowly” but said with the right intonation in the voice, it also means, “I’m so sorry things are taking so long.”  I am beginning to understand the true meaning in which these words are spoken. With all the delays on the front end of the trip, the well drill is running longer than originally scheduled and I am supposed to be on a plane back to Nairobi today.  Needless to say, I will not be on the 11am Air Kenya flight.  I try calling our travel agent but it is Sunday and their office isn’t open.  I explain my predicament to one of the helpful managers at Sarova Lodge.  He replies “pole pole.” He also remembers that there is an Air Kenya agent staying in the lodge. He will speak with her and sort it out for me while I am in the bush today.  There is also another expression in Kenya that says things will work out.  With that in mind, off I go..BIG WATER day awaits!!!

Out of the lodge, past the giraffe, through the gate, over the lava road, past a lone elephant, onto the tar mak road, zoom past Archer’s Post as I’ve done every day. However, today is not like every other day.  Almost at our turnoff, I see 6 beautifully adorned young ladies in their Sunday finest on the opposite side of the road waiting for the bus. Hold the phone!  Turn the car around! I ask Robert, my driver to translate for me.  Where are they going?  Church and then shopping in Archer’s Post, they reply.  Do they mind if I take their photo as they are looking so beautiful?  They don’t mind at all.  We have some fun taking photos and as we get ready to leave, I get the gist of a conversation that we just came through Archer’s Post and are going the opposite direction.  I tell Robert of course we have time to drive them to church and just like that, our car is now carrying six Samburu girls who sing a song of thanks that seems to have no beginning and no end over 10 kilometers to Archer’s Post.   It’s a good morning in Samburu.

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Back on the road to the drilling site.  You can hear the drilling as we get closer.  We arrive to see the uniforms of the crew hanging out to dry.  The usual suspects who I have come to recognize are congregating around, including Aldo.  Aldo, a Samburu man 40 years old spent four years living in East London married to an English woman before moving back to this area.  He speaks perfect English and tells me how much he loves Chinese and Italian food.

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Also is photographed on the left.

Insofar as it seems the drilling will be going on for a while today, he asks if I want to see where the people get water in this area. Of course I do!  Off we walk about 1/2 mile where I can see a tiny boy down in a hole.  Aldo asks to see the water he is bringing up.  He shows us a cup of brown, dirty liquid that will most likely be filled with waterborne bacteria causing diarrhea.  I have seen photos of similar sites many times over the past 5 years but seeing this in person was a painful dose of reality.

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Walking back to the site, it is HOT!  The sun is sweltering in this area.  Sweat is dripping off me from everywhere.  I feel I can’t complain or even comment about it.  I can’t help but imagine walking out here carrying a jerry can full of water in this heat.  I try to steer our walking under the shade of the trees but there are so many thorns that prick my pants and even pierce through my sneakers that it is impossible.  All in all, this little walk is a real reminder of why we do what we do at The Samburu Project.

The texture of the earth is changing around the drill rig.  It is sandy and wet, water is starting to migrate to the top of the rods and soil out onto the earth. Lucas says the big water is coming but we still have several rods to insert until we get to 70 meters.  Pole-Pole.  Aldo asks if I want to see his house, meet his Samburu wife and father who is more than 100 years old.  Sure!  As we enter through the thorny barrier of the manyatta, there are chickens and kids killing around and then OMG..I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Sitting next to his hut was a small solar panel, inside the hut was a table with about 10 cell phones that were being recharged from the solar panel. I was absolutely amazed to learn that these Samburu who are 90% illiterate were so technologically advanced to have cell phones and solar panels.  Why shouldn’t they have clean water, an education, and good health & hygiene?

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Waiting and drilling, drilling and waiting.  Back at the site, we still have not hit the BIG WATER yet.  I met some very resourceful boys who fashioned a toy out of discarded plastic. Aside from thinking that recycling is alive and well in Samburu, I notice the boy who was gathering water in the hole is with us on site.  Wearing his christmas bear pants, he smiles and I wonder how this water will change his future.

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No BIG WATER today so back to the lodge I go, where much to my delight there were big happenings going on.  At reception I found no one, at the bar I found no one but a little farther a field I could see everyone at the hotel gathered at the riverbank watching a heard of 30 elephants across the river.  They were absolutely magnificent!  Big huge bulls, little babies, all grazing and drinking from the river, putting on a fantastic show for the lodge guests and staff.  We stood watching and taking photos for about an hour until they disappeared back to where they came from.  What an absolutely fantastic treat!

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Despite the fact that today turned out not to be big water day, it was wonderful.  I pinched myself for all the amazing experiences I’ve had here in Samburu and think how grateful I am for everything that has brought me to this moment.  That night I dined with Carol from AirKenya. She sorted out my ticket and said I could take whatever flight was good for me tomorrow or the next day.  Imagine that!  Another Samburu surprise.  Everything is going to work out..but a little pole-pole.

 

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Linda’s Samburu Story #4

I wake up early to the sound of monkeys outside my room and I am excited because today is the big day, the day we start drilling!  I eat my breakfast and eagerly await my ride.  Lucas texts to say they are still setting up the rig, so no need to get to the site early.  UGH! I am itching to be part of the activities but instead I enjoy a second cup of tea and chat with the staff at the Sarova Shaba Lodge. Did I know this was the spot of the home of Joy and George Adamson?  This is the birthplace of Elsa and her beautiful lion cubs.  Memories of watching “Born Free” when I was a littlel girl drift through my brain and I temporarily forget about the drilling. This place is so beautiful.  I had no idea how beautiful it would be.  Lucas texts again, more delays..so I wait.

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Sarova Lodge has a resident naturalist named Chady.  He offers to give me a Samburu 101 Powerpoint presentation about the Samburu people, culture and land.  I learned how they and the Masai tribe are related, both part of the Maa people.  They originally came south from Somalia.  Part of the clan stayed in Samburu and some kept migrating south and ended up in the Mara.  He explained their culture, rituals and their defined structure of their “manyattas” (the Samburu work for their enclosed communities of huts.  Do you know that the earring and long chain in a women’s ear is the equivalent of a wedding ring in western culture?  It was all fascinating but now I am really itching to get out into the bush with the team

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Finally I am picked up, leave the lodge, drive past the giraffe, go through the gate, over the lava road, past some baboons, jump on the “tar mack road” (as the locals call the highway here), through Archer’s Post, off onto a red clay path for about another 20 minutes (are those camels in the distance? Yes.) until finally I see the rig!  WaterLink is here! Lucas welcomes me to the site, shows me the exact spot where drilling will commence.  All the while, there is a growing group of children beginning to congregate around me to see who the stranger is.  As Lucas briefs me, the crew is collecting big rocks to use underneath 4 big pads to steady and level the rig.  This is a very precise operation.  The drill must go into the earth at exactly 90 degrees.  This takes a while.  After much leveling, the rig is finally in place.  The drilling apparatus is raised and it hits a tree branch.  One of the crew (I’m assuming the one who drew a short straw) is hoisted up on the rig with a huge machete (or “panga” as it is called here) to trim back the imposing branches.  With that done, we are finally ready to start!

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Drilling is LOUD and DUSTY!  There are various people standing around watching the drill “hammer” as it begins to penetrate the earth.  Lucas explains that the crew will put the hammer (drill bit) then a succession of 15 rods that are 20 meters on top of each other to get down to 70 meters.  Slowly, slowly the drilling starts and slowly, slowly we see the rod disappear into the ground and another screwed on top of it.  And so the drilling begins.  It seems to me to be tedious work for Charles, the foreman.  While the process is so slow and seemingly hypnotic, he concentrates on the earth that the drill is spitting out, watching for signs of moisture.  The kids and various elders pass by to check on the progress or stick around to watch.   Eventually a soccer game breaks out, young girls scurry by collecting firewood, people come and go and life goes on as the drilling hammers away.

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Everyone settles into a bit of a routine as the hammer pounds the rods into the ground, drilling deeper until at 30 feet we hit fir first aqua fir and a sandy, slushy water comes shooting out.  Our geological report predicted this but it’s so reassuring to see it happen.  Everyone is excited. More drilling will commence until it gets dark but I have to get back to the lodge before then.  The crew will sleep and eat out in the bush until the job is done. I say good night to the crew and locals and call it a day. Tomorrow – BIG WATER (I hope)!

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This boy was able to take a nap right near the well drilling.  That’s some real fomo!

 

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“Kristen, this is Africa. Isn’t it cool?”

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Ladies singing in the pick up

Yes…we finally made it to Samburu and saw some wells today!

The truck is fine. Something must have been dragging from the undercarriage last night, but miraculously by this morning it was gone. Big sigh of relief!

One of the great gifts The Samburu Project has to offer the people of Samburu is a ride in the back of the truck, with all the thanks going to those who donated to our Truck Campaign! Today there was a constant flow of people jumping in and out of the pick-up as we drove through the bush. The ladies pictured to the left joined us at the end of a very long, hot day and were so happy for the ride that they broke out in song. It was delightful!

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Singing & dancing on the way to the well

One of the benefits of people riding with us is that it is a perfect opportunity for community development. It’s a no pressure environment to ask questions about what’s happening in a community and for those that have a well, how it is working, what issues have arisen and what difference clean water makes in their lives. A few of the ladies pictured to the right live in the Nairisha 2 Well community. Exhibited by their singing, the incredible dancing that we did on the way to the well and the hundreds of times I heard “Ashe Oleng” (thank you in Samburu), their gratitude was overflowing. It’s these moments that make the challenges I face in my work more than worth it.

So, we visited four wells today in Sere Olipi and Ndonyo Wasin. Being that I am somewhat of a Samburu-phile, this was super exciting as I have yet to travel to these areas. The Samburu Project expanded into Sere Olipi in 2011 and then Ndoyo Wasin in 2012. Nothing like getting some more of the Samburu East road under my belt…and it’s a lot of road.

Road to Ndonyo Wasin

Road to Ndonyo Wasin

Our first stop was Ndonyo Wasin and it truly felt like driving to the end of the earth. Albeit beautiful, it was a long, hot and bumpy road. We arrived at the well to find two children there taking water for themselves and their animals. Nenderua (11-year old girl) and Leipua (9-year old boy) are typical Samburu kids; sweet, giggly, shy, and very, very curious. The Nesesiai Well was drilled at the end of 2012. It was clear that they were excited about the well and that it had changed their lives drastically. They have yet to go to school as there is no primary school close to their home.

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Nenderua & Leipua

After I said goodbye to my new friends and started to make my way up the hill to the truck, they started yelling. They wanted to see the pictures I took of them…OF COURSE. I must be rusty if I didn’t offer to show the kids their photos! I’m so glad they mustered up the courage to ask. Nothing better than watching Samburu children look at pictures of themselves!

We made our way back over the long, dusty road to Sere Olipi. There, we visited three wells: Sere Olipi Trading Centre, Sere Olipi Primary School and Nairisha 2. The wells in Sere Olipi were all bustling. Prior to The Samburu Project drilliing in 2011, Sere Olipi had never seen a hand pump before. Many of the people in town drank water from a dam about 5 kms away. The dam’s water is very salty and causes diarrhea. Between the Primary School and the Trading Centre wells, the 5,000 people in the whole town are quenching their thirst!

I had a lovely conversation with Winnie who teaches Standard 6 English and Standard 4 Math. She has been teaching at Sere Olipi Primary School for five years. She said that prior to the well, water was the biggest challenge she faced at the school. After long days teaching she would have to walk far to get drinking water. Washing her clothes was nearly impossible because it required walking 5 kms to and fro. Beyond her personal challenges, she spoke of the relief the well has given to the girls she teaches. Because personal hygiene is such a challenge in the absence of water, many girls were inconsistent with their school attendance. With water, they can now focus on their studies without interruption.

Teacher Winnie & her students

Teacher Winnie & her students

Night began to fall so we had to cut out of Sere Olipi before visiting our last two wells: Nolkapur & Nairisha 1. I was so exhausted that I dozed off on the way back to Archer’s Post only to be awakened to a BIG giraffe walking across the road. Lucas laughed at my reaction and said; “Kristen, this is Africa. Isn’t it cool?”

 

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Isiolo

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Time is ever a challenge in Africa. Lucas and I are consistently overambitious about what we can do in a day. Despite the long drive from Nairobi to Samburu, we thought we were going to make it there this afternoon in time to visit a few wells. On the contrary, we are staying the night at the Transit Hotel in Isiolo town which is the last stop before Samburu. The great part about this is that we got to visit an old friend of The Samburu Project, Alice Lenanyokie Lengalen and her new baby girl! Alice recently moved back to Kenya after many years in the US and is living in Isiolo (soon to return to Samburu!).  Beginning in 2007, Alice worked with The Samburu Project as a representative of her tribe.  She came to our events and shared first-hand the story of the Samburu people. The early years would not have been so successful if it weren’t for Alice.

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Before leaving Nairobi, we spent a couple more hours with Ajah Shah, our well driller. It’s always exciting to strategize about the future and discuss how we can work smarter together to maximize our impact in the Samburu community. I have been working with Ajay since June 2006. We met under less than ideal circumstances. I arrived in Nairobi, still bright eyed and bushy tailed, for our first well drill only to find out that our original drilling contractor was backing out. I was in a panic. I spent a year putting The Samburu Project together and this was the opportunity for the fruits of my labor to come to bear. My friends Ted and Belisa were flying in the next week to film the occasion. At that point, not drilling was not an option. Yes, I wanted to bring people clean water, but beyond that I HAD SOMETHING TO PROVE! I literally got down on my hands and knees in the lounge of the Nairobi Safari Club and cried.  It wasn’t pretty, but Ajay consoled me and reluctantly agreed to drill the wells. It was the beginning of a long lasting relationship.  We’ve hit some bumps in the road as you might image would happen between a drilling contractor and a nonprofit organization but in the end we have drilled a lot of wells (44 of 52) together that are providing thousands & thousands of people with clean, safe drinking water.

Once on the road, Nairobi traffic was relatively manageable and we sailed out of the city into the beautiful Kenyan countryside. I was so excited I even posted this picture on Facebook.

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The post included the note:  Heading north towards Samburu…it’s a smooth ride in the new truck…

Hope I didn’t speak too soon! After a stop in Nanyuki for some shopping and dinner we continued to head north and then there was a THUMP and dragging noises ensued! No, we did not hit anything living but something happened.  We just weren’t sure what. Lucas got out of the car to inspect, but by this time it was pitch dark. As you might imagine, there are no street lights or much light at all in rural Kenya. Lucas drove slowly to Isiolo. Everything was seemingly fine with the exception of the horrible dragging noise.  After our arrival and our brief visit with Alice, we checked into the Transit and Lucas took the car to “a mechanic”. It was already 10 pm. Wish I had more to report, but now at nearly 1 am I have yet to hear from him.  And, of course, his phone has been shut off!

Hope we still manage to meet our 7 am departure time. I’ve been traveling for three days and have yet to see a well over flowing with water.

More tomorrow…

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