Excellent's Chairman, David Jordan OBE, reviews another successful sand dam expedition, this time in September 2018 with Barclays Isle of Man volunteers who helped to raise £40,000 for a new sand dam in southeast Kenya.

Helping others is one of the most rewarding of experiences. Acts of kindness and generosity, however small, not only help others but remind us that we are part of a world where we can make a difference. Believe me, that’s a good feeling to have.

Working with teams of volunteers means I see many acts of kindness first hand. Take my recent trip to southeast Kenya this month with two groups of volunteers from Barclays Isle of Man. Before they even set foot in Kenya the volunteers spent 18 months raising money to build a sand dam with every pound they raised being matched by the bank.

"I know from my conversations with the volunteers that their experience of working alongside local people and hearing about what it is like to live without a safe and secure water supply has altered their world view forever. For members of the local community, knowing there are others who believe in them and who are reaching out to help them is equally powerful."

Once in Kenya, they got to see how a functioning sand dam works in practice before starting the hard graft. For a week at a time, groups of 10 worked in the heat alongside local people to build a sand dam in Makueni County. It was very different work from their jobs back on the Isle of Man in call centres and frontline banking. As volunteers they replaced computer screens and telephones with shovels and wheelbarrows. Every day involved some heavy labouring in dry and dusty conditions. And boy did they work hard. I am pleased to say that through the heroic effort of the Barclays volunteers and local people, we completed the sand dam in record time. Take a look at Excellent’s Twitter account to see how the fortnight progressed (link to Excellent’s Twitter account), and please follow the account for future updates.

Working alongside volunteers to create a sand dam will undoubtedly make a huge difference to the community in Makueni County. But there are other more personal benefits which should not be overlooked. I know from my conversations with the volunteers that their experience of working alongside local people and hearing about what it is like to live without a safe and secure water supply has altered their world view forever. For members of the local community, knowing there are others who believe in them and who are reaching out to help them is equally powerful.

All these emotions came together at the end of the volunteers’ week when the local community held a closing ceremony for each group of volunteers. This was a way of saying thank you and for celebrating what had been achieved together. Volunteers were rewarded with a local, tribal name. There was laughter and some tears as the volunteers and the community talked about their experiences.

Their sand dam legacy is a testament to their hard work but they also take home with them a very personal experience which will last for a very long time.

Please consider donating today, to help us meet our urgent need. Your donation will ensure that fewer women and children have to face the terrible health consequences of collecting and using unprotected water, and more families can begin to thrive.

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