I thought I’d try and finish the 2nd part of my Kajiado ARP graduation blog before starting my Christmas vacation. This piece is about the Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) project. Where people don’t have access to clean water, life can be very harsh indeed.
Although I’d experienced fairly basic conditions living in India in my early years, I was not prepared for the harsh conditions that I saw here. These people living in desert like conditions without water or electricity and yet their warmth, friendliness and resilience was amazing. Their strength seems to come from their community spirit – they have so little and yet they have so much. I’ll have to remember not to moan and complain the next time we have a hose pipe ban! In the UK where I’ve spent most of my life, I’m used to having the creature comforts like running hot and cold water at the turn of a tap, gas and electricity at the touch of a button/switch. Like many people, I have taken all these things for granted without a second thought. This is not the case here in Lenkisem, Kajiado.
|Arriving in Lenkisem, I was surprised and taken aback at the stark desert like conditions – very dry, dusty and very little greenery that welcomed us – you could see far into the distance. The ground was red/orangey in colour, probably rich in iron and other minerals.
Some of us broke off for a short while from the ARP group to visit a nearby Maasai village few kilometres away to look at the bore hole which had just been operationalised. As we drove the project manager explained that there had been little or no rain for nearly a year. I could see the result of no rain – bones of dead animals, lack of young men around the village because they’d moved on with their remaining herd in search of better grazing ground.
The project manager explained that when you’re struggling merely to survive due to lack of water – the very essence of life, you don’t very much care about things like ARP. So, by helping to sort out their water situation, you have their ear and the buy-in to listen and come on board about the ARP program. This is what Amref Health Africa has managed to do here – it has given this community hope and a purpose.
At the bore-hole, we were welcomed by the village committee, county governor and other heads of the village as well as lots of young kids who started to follow us around – they all wanted to shake our hands, they were so excited and curious to see strangers in their village. I’d really wished I’d brought some sweets with me – something that I started to do regularly.
Before the bore hole, the women used to have to walk 10km round trip to fetch 20 litres of water. This water would be used conservatively to cook, drink, wash and so on. Life would be little bit easier now and in the long term, the villagers would like to be able to grow their own vegetables and hopefully the men will return with the herd.
In terms of maintenance and sustainability, the village committee would be responsible for ensuring the bore hole continues to be functional……
It has been a humbling experience to visit these people to see the joy in their faces and the excitement of having the bore hole working. Hand in hand, these people also received education on the importance of sanitation and hygiene – something we have grown up with in the west and now take to the extreme.
|Here I am helping to pump water into one of the plastic containers.|
It’s exciting and gratifying to see the difference Amref has had on this remote community….. I am so grateful to Amref for having given me this opportunity to witness ARP and the WASH projects in action – this is something that will stay with me forever…………