The Wendano wa Kithyululu Self Help Group celebrate the completion of their Sand Dam with the Excellent Development volunteers.
The Wendano wa Kithyululu Sand Dam under construction.
Sally Pinhey, Excellent volunteer, with women of the Wendano wa Kithyululu Self Help Group
Cornelius Kato, ASDF Field Manager, with Tom Oliver and Tom Coles, Excellent volunteers.
The Excellent team and the Wendano wa Kithyululu Self Help Group celebrate the successful completion of their Sand Dam.
A group of nine Excellent Development volunteers visited Kenya to support the Wendano wa Kithyululu Self Help Group build a Sand Dam. Nobody knew quite what to expect but, as they soon found out, an Excellent expedition is quite an experience.
People join the Excellent expeditions for many reasons: some are interested in the Sand Dam construction, some look forward to working closely with a Self Help Group, others are curious about life in the rural drylands of Kenya. However, everyone comes with a common goal: wanting to help in any way they can.
Tom Oliver said: “As a social group our expedition ranges from mid twenties to retirement age. We’ve all brought different skills and neither one is more valuable than the other. When you come together and you unite over one thing - it's quite an experience.”
Life in rural drylands is hard. It’s hot and it’s dry and there is very little water. The water that does exist is often many kilometres away. Collecting it is exhausting and consumes hours out of every day – especially for women and children.
Michael McConnell said: “Very few people in the UK could live through the lifestyle that [rural dryland communities] have. It's just hard every day. Having to do that without water must be truly agonising. I think of my two young kids: would I let them walk for four hours through wilderness? No. No.”
Through a week of incredible hard work and the support of our partners Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF), the Excellent volunteers and the Wendano wa Kithyululu Self Help Group have now completed their Sand Dam. It wasn’t easy - but everyone makes an invaluable contribution.
Tom Oliver said: “It was hard work. But there is a sense that it doesn't matter what your abilities are or what you can bring to the site, your involvement in any way is appreciated. Everyone's on the same level - although I was taught how to wield a sledgehammer by a lady a little bit older than me which was an experience.”
This Sand Dam will provide a clean, reliable source of water for this community for life. But, not only that, it will enable opportunities for farming, education and poverty alleviation for generations.
Michael McConnell said: "It's like a pump primer – we [civil engineers] call it - where you put something in and seeds will then grow from that. And the Sand Dams do that. It gives people a start. And the growth will happen organically from that as they evolve and are able to support themselves better. It's just a perfect cycle.”
Sand Dams transform lives. But not only the lives of the communities we support; the lives of the people who support Excellent Development and help to make it all happen too.
Michael McConnell summed it up: “You've got to ‘Give a Dam’...You've got to give a dam”.
If you can find anything that touches me the way that this has; I don’t think you can ever forget that.
Tom Oliver, Excellent Development volunteer, 2012.