Ugandan Water Project - Ken Berkin

Fri 27th March 2020 at 11.13 - 11.13

Ken has worked with the poor and orphaned children of rural Kigesi for over 47 years. He and his wife set up the charity 'Friends of North Kigesi Diocese' over 20 years ago. This presentation to the club describes the charity's water project.

Ihimbo and Kateramo Water Project: From Club Member Ken Berkin


Dear All


My work in Uganda is centred at the Western end of the Eastern Rift Valley with temperatures of 42 degrees c, no clean water and folk dying from preventable diseases.  Some three years back I was asked to assist with a major famine relief programme in this remote area as there were no crops growing due to the constant lack of rainfall and vulnerable families were on the point of starvation.


Our Charity (The Friends of North Kigesi) raised funds and we delivered more than 10 tons of maize meal called Posho.  Families were selected for distribution and lines of people came to our lorry to be handed a 28kg sack of this wonderful basic food.  It was a God given Programme and lives were enhanced and some were even saved.  It was the first time for me to meet face to face with a starving child and the look on their faces will remain forever with me. As a Christian charity this situation hung on our hearts for some time until we heard that there was an underground fresh water spring that bubbled out of the ground into a muddy pool and villagers were drawing their water from this place.


The water was initially clean but was being contaminated by animals and the villagers themselves.  No wonder the life expectancy was a meagre 42 years as typhoid was taking many to the Lord far too early.  We engaged with a local Ugandan Water Engineer to examine this spring and the results were astounding as two other springs were located nearby but with the same problems.  There is local technology available to protect such valuable resources and it is called Soring Protection.  The springs are dug deeply down so that pipes can be inserted at the source. All three streams needed this treatment and then for the piped water to be gravity fed into a concrete holding tank.  Inside, the tank needed a gravel bed filter and clean sparkling water would be the result.  How incredibly wonderful it all seemed. The project was priced at some £9,000 in total and with the help of Rotary and private donors we soon raised the cash and work began.


For three weeks some 20 local tradesmen lived on the site and worked day and night to carry all the materials down a one in three slope, carry out the excavation and build the 500 litre concrete tank, helped by many local villagers.  It was back-breaking work and we remain indebted to all those involved as clean water now flows constantly day and night as you can see in the pictures: a community of some 2,500 rural Ugandans enjoy clean and fresh water for the first time in their long history.  The run off from the tank is used to cultivate crops and the entire area has been lifted from despair to hope, and disease has already reduced.  This was Rotary working in partnership to save the lives of others and the people of Ihimbo and Kateramo in the Rift Valley in South Western Uganda will never forget this.


Take care my friends in these challenging times and stay in touch.

God bless us all.

With love

Ken


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