I’ve just arrived back from a very inspiring time in Kenya and Tanzania visiting projects. I’m often surprised at the level of poverty in locations of stunning beauty. I captured the amazing panoramic view in the photo below, looking out from the site of a new community centre that we are building in an area of desperate need.
While on a Global Angels trip last year to Kenya to investigate new projects, I discovered a community with so little water, that women and children were walking 10-15km every day to bring water home to their families. After observing their muddy rainwater catchment literally dry up, I felt compelled to develop long-term sustainable solutions for the 100,000 people living in the area.
The Tsavo Project – Water
A year later, we have already begun to provide solutions such as easy access to safe drinking water, empowerment through education and small business development. We are working with on-the-ground partners Camps International, who are an award winning social enterprise company. Together we are developing the Tsavo Project, a pilot programme which will potentially be rolled out in other parts of Africa and as far afield as Ecuador, Peru, Borneo and Cambodia. I found it particularly fulfilling to work with their leadership team on vision, strategy and management. Over the next few years I will be developing new innovative ways to transform this community and capacity build this project and others like it.
Our first response to the tremendous difficulties facing the Tsavo families and women in particular, has been to launch a short-term emergency school feeding programme. Due to the serious drought and shortage of food for families in the area, with nutritious food in their stomachs it will be much easier for children to learn.
Simultaneously, we have begun addressing the chronic lack of safe drinking water. We are developing rainwater collection via roof guttering and rock catchments, alongside storage systems in schools and community centres. These storage tanks will be joined to nearby water mains, so that families can have daily access to drinking water. The local people are too poor to afford the cost of piping water directly to their houses, or the associated water bills, so this is life changing for them. We are also exploring drilling deep boreholes to access water 300 meters under ground and using permaculture techniques to develop successful agricultural initiatives.
We are also attempting to dig shallow wells 100 feet deep, to reach some water for agriculture and domestic use.
During the visit, I was able to view the piece of land where the community centre for a local women’s co-op will stand. In a few weeks, hundreds of secondary school kids from Europe and the Middle East will arrive and begin to help construct the buildings as part of their voluntary community service with Camp Kenya. While I was on site, the first eight 20,000 litre water tanks arrived and some of the women were digging deep drains to protect the project from flash flood damage during the short rainy season.
The centre will house a small IT and business school, a workshop space to produce local crafts and a shop to sell items such as home made aloe vera soap, locally grown anti-oxidant powder, bracelets and hair braiding. The project aims to equip the women in the community with resources and support them as they develop small businesses initiatives.
Brick Making Machine
A brick making business will be attached to the facility. Locals are being trained to produce 800-1,000 bricks a day with the brick machines we gave to the project early this year. Already, local leader Mama Mercy is pioneering her own start-up business and Camp Kenya is helping lift this off the ground by being her first customer buying bricks to build the community centre.
Mama Mercy Trailblazer
I was privileged to be able to meet up with Mama Mercy and personally give her the Inspirational Angel award that she won in 2013, for her courageous leadership and determination shown within the Tsavo women’s co-operative movement.
I’m due to return again in September to visit the Tsavo Project. I will be taking a small film crew and group of 10-12 business people from companies that are active Corporate Angel Partners, I cannot wait! Please let me know if you or your company would be interested in supporting the project. As a supporter, you will be given the opportunity to join me on a future trip, where you can personally visit the projects and experience all of the beauty and wildlife that Kenya has to offer. Here are some photographs that I took of the animals during my travels between the projects. As you can see, we’re very close to the two Tsavo National Parks, prime safari land!