If you ever wondered whether our efforts in Rotary are not only welcomed by the recipients, but solve real problems and bring real joy, then just watch this video taken when the pupils at Magaca Primaty school in Embu County, Kenya, knew that their borewell was complete and fresh clean water was available.
Five thousand five hundred children at ten schools in Embu County, Kenya are benefitting from water wells supplying reliable, fresh, clean water for drinking, washing, cleaning, and watering of crops. This is making a huge difference to their lives.
It has ended reliance on unreliable rainwater, which dramatically and adversely impacts the poor rural area of Embu County in the foothills of Mount Kenya. Children Used to have to walk to local streams to collect essential (but not clean) water. When the rains fail, schools are not able to grow crops which are required to feed the poorer children.
Rotary Club of Billericay's project has enabled schools to grow crops to feed needy children, who otherwise would not have a daily meal. No longer hungry, and freed from time-wasting water collection, children will spend more time learning and thus make better progress.
Local labour dug a well at each school to provide reliable, clean, fresh water, using locally purchased supplies and equipment. This established low-tech solution can be maintained locally. One pilot borewell at Ciamanda Primary School has been completed on time and on budget to prove feasibility.
It all started with a plea for help from Mrs. Lucy Mbogo Headteacher of Ciamanda Primary School in Embu County, Kenya to Rtn. Rev. Margaret Fowler, a member of the Rotary Club of Billericay. Lucy, her deputy and her senior teacher all agreed a water well would help them greatly “especially at a time like now, when we didn’t receive the April rains. This would cut water bills, and the unreliable tap piped water, that we have to pay for, that comes for only one hour a day making it difficult to use water in the kitchen. This would also enable us to do some horticulture and minimise cost of buying vegetables for our feeding programme”. This was a vital need for many of the schools in the region. Could we help?
Why did the letter come? Because Rtn. Rev. Margaret Fowler had been visiting Embu County and Ciamanda in particular for nearly 12 years, promoting the needs of the people there and raising funds to provide much needed facilities such as Water tanks, toilets etc. We could see that there was an opportunity to help Ciamanda and other local schools in the County, especially because Mrs Lucy Mbogo is Chairman of the Headteachers Association for Embu and Secretary for the Mount Kenya Region.
The club reviewed the estimates for the project and agreed to support it.
Margaret visited Embu in October 2019, where the local Rotary Club of Embu agreed to partner with us to provide the necessary oversight and management of the Program. We funded the first well at Ciamanda Primary school to establish feasibility, with money from the profits of our Soapbox Derby. Work started in the Christmas holidays and was completed by year-end. On time and on budget at $3000.
Not only did the well produce the regular fresh clean water supply that was planned, but it provided much needed employment to local workmen. It created a sustainable water source which local people can maintain.
The water is also used to keep the school clean and hygienic. It enables the school to grow crops for its feeding program for the children and provides long term employment for a farmer to tend the crops.
How did the school view the results of this first well? They were delighted! Fresh water is supplied as planned, all the direct benefits outlined above have been achieved, AND money is freed up for other projects to benefit the children. In addition, children have more time in school and are able to concentrate better, resulting in them gaining higher qualifications.
The unique feature of this project is its wide international support. Over 50 years ago the Rotary Club of Billericay established an international link with the Rotary Club of Beausoleil in France, and in August 1969, the Rotary Club of Alba in Italy, and Basildon Club (6 miles away from Billericay), joined the group, followed by the Rotary Club of Karlshamn in Sweden, and most recently by a further Italian club - Ovada del Centenario. The six clubs are known as the “Double Triangular” Group.
Each year members from the six clubs are hosted in its home country by one of the clubs, and in 2019, at the project meeting in Beausoleil, the other clubs agreed to join us in funding seven more wells for other schools in need in Embu County, Kenya.
Each well we built is low cost at about $3,000 and every one of the five other “Double Triangular” clubs has now donated money, a total of over $6300 to fund more wells.
Co-operation of Rotary Clubs from across Europe with us and the Rotary Club of Embu in this project is a great example of international co-operation that exemplifies Rotary principles of fellowship and service above self. On the ground in Kenya we worked with the Embu schools and education authorities, to deliver much-needed fresh water to all these schools.
An agreed sequence for the remaining wells has been set by the Chairman of the Headteachers Association and County Education Secretary of Embu County in Kenya. We transferred the money provided by the European clubs, topped up by Rotary Club of Billericay funds, to our local partner, the Rotary Club of Embu in Kenya, as needed to build each well and all ten wells are now complete
Unfortunately, there was still a shortfall of $8,500 between the funds available and the total needed to complete the project for all the Schools. In normal times, pre Covid-19, we would raise money through holding special events for the public, but with lockdown in force again in England, our options were very limited.
So, we decided to use Crowdfunding to raise the missing money. We registered with GlobalGiving, a charity crowdfunding platform, with which Rotary has links.
To have a permanent presence on the GlobalGiving website and be able to raise money in the future, we had to “Graduate” from the “Accelerator Programme” which ran from December 1 to 31, raising at least $5,000 from over 40 different donors, and we worked hard to achieve this.
GlobalGiving provided several prizes to help projects raise funds, both on performance during the whole Accelerator Programme, and, especially on the “Bonus Day” (December 9). These “prizes” are available for projects which reach certain milestones.
GlobalGiving analyses all the donations made on the “bonus” day including the number of donors, and the largest donation total on the day. In addition, $20,000 is shared amongst all accelerator participants in proportion to the amount each raises on that day – so the more we raised, the more prize money we received. Finally, there were prizes covering the whole Accelerator timeframe.
We were very successful in winning a number of these prizes, thanks to everybody’s help.
Thw project is now complete! The ten wells have all been dug and water available to all ten schools intended. Some maintennace work is taking place at two of the schools, where the well at one is being deepened and the pump is being replaced at a second school, but all objectives have been met.
A great success story.
more Margaret Fowler returned in March 2023 to see what progress had been made since her November visit.
more Club members Rev. Margaret Fowler reports on her October visit to Kenya to see our Borewells in operation.
more Project completed - Objectives Exceeded - TEN wells built and in operation
more Fundraising exceeded expectations and we are able to fund not just the original 6 Borewells, but a total of 10 borewells in all.
more Make these children Happy and Safe! Help deliver Fresh clean water for 2,500 Kenyan Schoolchildren by donating to this project. Donate here.
more Bonus Day event - Give on December 9 and help us win a prize for the most donors to this project.
more The background to our story
more A personal reflection by Rtn. Revd. Margaret Fowler
more How we used Crowdfunding to raise the "missing" money we needed.
more A resume of the origin, support and delivery of the project
more Key conclusions we learnt from this project.
more A selection of videos taken during the project implementation at some of the schools where the wells are being dug.