Monday, May 28, 2018

Our First Implementation!

About 3 months ago, four of our members (Kim, John, Ranjit, and myself) ventured off to Kenya for our very first implementation trip at the Imurtot Primary School. After many months of hard work, we were excited to finally make our designs a reality and help provide water to the school community. Thankfully Tad and the Water Is Life - Kenya team (Joyce, Sadera, Musyoki, and Larasha) had already picked up the materials required so we were able to hit the ground running once we arrived. 

Our team decided to choose the two smallest buildings to install our system on first to help us prove our concept. The first two buildings, the Library and Kitchen, are shown below just an hour into our work.
Library - Before
Kitchen - Before
At first the project was moving slowly because we were all trying to get our bearings and figure out how to construct everything correctly since we had minimal spare parts and could not afford to make mistakes. We soon learned of the difference in quality of materials as we broke several drill bits the first day and realized that the PVC pipe didn't quite fit into some of the fittings. We put Sadera's fire making skills to the test and had him build us a fire so that we could boil water. We used the boiling water to make the PVC pipe soft and malleable so that we could get it to slide into the fittings. 

Tad (left), Joyce (center-left), Andrew (center-right), and Sadera (right), work to boil water for the PVC pipe
The days were flying by and the team was worried about getting the projects completed in time. Fortunately, some good omens, in the form of rain and a rainbow, gave us confidence that we would get the project done. 
Women collecting water from a stream flowing from the previous day's rain

Rainbow at Imurtot Primary School
After the third day, we finally had a good handle on the work and were moving along! Kim and Larasha presented the project to the community and it was well received!
Larasha (left), the Chairman (center), and Kim (right) present the EWB project to the community
We were hot, tired, and sweaty, but the idea of providing the kids water kept us motivated.

Students lower the Kenyan flag at the end of the day
We had the gutters up on all of the buildings, had the tanks in place, and had most of the PVC pipe in place and just one day left to get both system ready for use - this was turning into a nail biter!

Andrew makes modifications to the gutters so that the water is captured
John (left), Ranjit (center), and Andrew (right) work to install modifications on the Library's gutters
We had one full day left to tie everything together and educate the teachers on the system, and with seconds left, we successfully completed the project and trained the school teachers.
Kitchen - After

Library - After

Teachers learning about the rain catchment system
Tad. John, Andrew, and Ranjit explain the system to two teachers

EWB Implementation Team and WILK (Sadera, Tad, Andrew, Kim, Ranjit, John, and Joyce) 
After a week of hard work, we were all proud to have represented our chapter doing a project so meaningful to the community. Just days after we all arrived safely back home, Joyce informed us that it had begun raining at Imurtot and the tanks were beginning to fill with water. In only a few weeks, Joyce informed us that all six tanks were actually full! We were able to store approximately 19,000 liters of water in just a few weeks, truly amazing. What's even better? We've since received photos of the students using our system to fill their cups.

Its photos like these that make all of us realize how important and meaningful our efforts are and help drive us forward to continue our design and fundraising efforts. We are hoping to make it back in October of 2018 to build on our momentum and provide an even larger source of water for these kids!

-Andrew Prosser

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hakuna Matata

I can’t believe it’s been 3 months since we returned from Kenya! This past year has flown by! It was only last spring when Joyce, director of Water is Life Kenya, met our Chapter for the first time. We were officially approved to take on the Kenya Rainwater Catchment Project at Imurtot Primary School in July. By October, we were on our way to Imurtot for our first assessment trip. The travel team members included me, Ashley, Kathleen, and Tad. Upon arrival in Nairobi we met Joyce, Sadera, and “the beast” (the Land Rover we would spend the next week traveling around in).

Kim, Ashley, Kathleen, Joyce, and Sadera with "the beast"

The following day we traveled to Loitokitok, the town nearest to Imurtot Primary School. When we reached the school we were eagerly greeted by over 500 students! 

Joyce greeting some of the students

After we were introduced, a group of students performed a song that they had prepared for us. The song included verses such as “We need water in our lives.. Please our visitors we need water.”

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At that point, we really felt the weight of the task ahead of us. The school currently does not have a water supply. They tried drilling a well in 2015, but never reached water. The geology of the region makes it a risky location for drilling. The students have to walk to a water source every morning and carry their water to school.

After class resumed, we had a meeting with a group of community members, parents, and teachers. The Project Partnership Agreement (which outlines the roles/responsibilities of Imurtot, EWB, and Water is Life Kenya) was translated and read aloud. After all the questions were answered, all parties agreed upon the requirements, and the Project Partnership Agreement was signed!
Signing the Project Partnership Agreement

EWB, Water is Life Kenya, and Imurtot

The next two days were spent measuring school buildings and taking photographs. The science teacher assisted Tad with installing a rain gauge at the school, so that the students can assist in collecting local precipitation data. We visited hardware stores to determine material availability and cost. We also stopped to assess existing water projects in the area, and took note of what worked well and what could be improved upon.

Rain Gauge

Our departure from Kenya was bittersweet. We were glad to have had such a successful trip, but were sorry to say goodbye to all of our new friends.

The assessment trip is over, but this is just the beginning! Now that we’ve seen firsthand the need for water at Imurtot Primary School, we are even more motivated to return and implement the project.We hope to send another team later this year.

- Kim Teoli