We have been working in the Kingori Ward in Northern Tanzania since 2013. All 14 villages in the ward have received assistance because of a very determined woman named Felista. She walked to our office on 3 separate occasions asking for help for the children of her area – a trek that takes us 1.5 hours to drive. On the day we arrived to assess the area, I questioned whether this was the right place to work. Mother nature put an end to my doubt by showering down baseball size raindrops from a clear blue sky. The Kingori Ward is an area that lies between Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru. No matter where you are in the ward, you can always hear the high-pitched hum of an old Toyota Hilux speeding through the villages. There are three roads into the ward – Bumpy, Bumpier and Bumpiest. No matter which of the Bumpy’s you choose, you will always find small woman-made berms that span the width of the road to lovingly remind Joseph, our Tanzanian director to slow down. Over the last years these Jobumps, as we call them, have populated the area faster than anything. We have been whizzing around this ward for so long, it feels like a second home. And the villagers feel like family.
Populated mostly by the Meru tribe, the language feels ancient yet strikingly familiar. Consonants roll together like a cricket’s song with melodic, rolling R’s and long winded A’s. The challenges of the people are like a hailstorm, but their spirited love of life is never extinguished. They laugh with all of their soul and weep with every inch of their heart. Their gratitude reaches down to the belly of the earth. You feel it long after your encounter with them has ended. As we come to a close on the 1st chapter of work in the ward, we spent the day visiting all 14 villages. Starting at 7AM the phone begins to ring. Abundant laughter is heard through the crackles of bad network connections. People are yelling “Save the Rain is coming and so has the rain!” As we arrive in each village, it pours and all you hear is sheer joy and tanks filling with rain. This year in 2016, we built 1,110,000 liters of large rainwater harvesting storage on the primary schools of 9 of the villages in the Kingori Ward. We partnered with a coalition of Rotary Clubs and Save the Rain donors to give 340 families access to clean water at their homes, planted over 3,000 trees and gave 4,000 primary school students the ability to wash their hands after latrine pit use. We trained 5th and 6th graders as well as hundreds of women on permaculture design, organic farming and passive irrigation.
All of this was done because of the generosity of people like you. When you become part of the Save the Rain family you generate life-altering change. From the embracing acceptance of a hidden community of special needs children who now attend school amongst the mainstream, to a landscape populated with rainwater harvesters and permaculture farmers, your generosity and faith in us has created a storm of possibility in a place once void of abundance. On behalf of every man, woman and child who no longer has to drink water poisoned from high levels of fluoride and bacteria, we bow our heads in gratitude to you.