The cascading hills of Thika, Kenya are home to many struggles, including a tragically high population of orphans due to increased rates of HIV/Aids in the area. Mithini is a community in Thika that is rescuing these orphans.
When we visited the orphanage in Mithini in 2011, we found only a shack on the side of the hill that was home to the director, house mom, and 9 abandoned children, each of whom were sick. Their poor health was due to lack of clean water and nutrients. Every morning, midday and evening, these small children hiked down a steep escarpment to fill jerry cans of dirty water. They then dragged these heavy loaded cans back up to their “house” and placed the water in bacteria-filled storage tanks.
Five months later, Well Aware returned to drill a new water well for Mithini. We equipped the system with solar power, installed pipelines, conducted training and recruited partners to the area.
Within a few months after the new well was pumping clean water in Mithini, the children were healthy and the entire community was able to drink clean water. Today, the kids there are healthy and getting an education. There is a new preschool, new primary school, girls and boys dorms and acres of crops growing healthy vegetables. The original orphanage is now home to 79 previously abandoned children.
“We can save so many more children now, and the community can be healthy. Clean water is life, and we are so grateful to you.”
- Geoffrey, Director of the Watoto Wa Baraka orphanage in Mithini
When we first met the community of Daaba in 2011, we were heartbroken to learn about how they had to collect water. Next to the only school- small and dilapidated- there was an open hand-dug well. The children had to climb down into this dangerous hole to retrieve water which was contaminated with the runoff from the livestock waste. On this first visit to Daaba, the principle of the school told us, with teary eyes, that this “well” had recently taken the life of one of his students who slipped while at the bottom filling a bucket.
Later that same year, Well Aware returned with a solution. There was a broken borehole nearby that we rehabilitated and improved, also providing the village with solar power, pipelines and kiosks for distribution.
Today, Daaba is transformed. There are several new classroom blocks filled with children, as well as housing for the teachers and a medical clinic. The kids are rarely absent from school due to illness. Community committees have organized health education initiatives and income through agriculture. The girls in Daaba are going to the 8th grade for the first time in the community’s history.
“The governor of the county came to visit our community after hearing of our progress. He declared Daaba to be the most developed community in the area. We have clean water to thank for that.”
- Principal at Daaba Primary School
In a very dry area of northern Kenya, there is a community called Alamach. They once suffered greatly from water-related illness and no opportunity for development. With the only source of clean water over 14 km away, the women and children spent their days, in the hot sun and dust storms, walking for water. The mothers in Alamach were distraught from the high rates of infant mortality. The community felt hopeless.
In July 2014, Well Aware installed a water well and applied our sustainability model in this community of 4,000 people. Just 9 months later, the community had grown to 7,000 people as the entire area organized around the water system. They now have acres of crops and they are cultivating new plots. They grow carrots, kale, tomatoes, beans and berries. Their children are nourished, and they are generating income from the sale of the extra crops.
Today, they have a nursery and primary school. The women no longer spend their days walking for water and worried for their children’s lives. And, in an area that once also struggled with conflict, they have become peaceful and empowered. This was made possible by Well Aware and our supporters.
“When we had no water, our children were always sick. We walked most of the day to bring heavy water to our families and we could barely survive. Now we are healthy and having business. We can succeed now because we have this water.”
- Elizabeth, Water Committee Chair in Alamach
There are 20,000 people in Ndabibi and surrounding areas who once accessed a water well that broke. The community was devastated, and the schools, clinic, fish ponds and agriculture that they built and maintained were all but abandoned without water.
We met the community in Ndabibi in 2013 and listened to stories about the struggles of childbirth there without a functioning clinic. We heard and saw the hopelessness in the parents’ eyes as they explained the low attendance at school, the water-related illnesses and the deterioration of their previous development.
The following year, Well Aware returned to drill a new well for the community of Ndabibi. The existing infrastructure enabled the community to almost instantly begin to prosper again.
The clinic now serves almost 100 patients a day. The classrooms are packed, and they have begun construction for additional school buildings. The gardens are thriving, and the fish ponds are full of fish again- for the children to eat and for the community to sell at market for income.
There are almost no reported illnesses from water in Ndabibi today.
“Before, we had to tell the sick we could not help them. There was illness always. Now, we can treat our sick and have water to drink, so we are healthy.”
- Jane, head nurse at the Ndabibi Clinic