These past few months have been incredibly productive and inspiring for the Well Aware team. In late June, our U.S.-based team headed to East Africa to join our local team for our annual “Rafiki” trip.
We learned, we laughed, we cried, and we grew. We drilled a new well (our highest-yielding to date). We continued to develop partnerships with incredible communities and organizations. We conducted important analyses to inform future project planning. And, we even scoped out the possibilities of expanding our work into a new country.
But, what makes this trip incredibly special is that each year, we bring a fantastic group of supporters, from all over, who join us in the field. These annual trips not only allow our local and U.S.-based teams to reconnect and tackle important projects, but they also enable our supporters to witness, first-hand, how clean water changes the lives of many.
Our Travel & Media Coordinator, Lindsey Reed, recounts the impact we saw in one of our partner communities:
“Back in February of this year, I was fortunate enough to be on the ground with our tech team when we struck water at New Canaan, Kenya. From the moment we arrived at this former IDP (Internally Displaces Persons) camp, I knew that this water would forever change the lives of the people in this community. In late June, about four months after drilling was completed, we returned to the community to check on the system and the impact. The water was flowing and people were genuinely happy, smiling, and the children were playing… While that last part might not seem notable, it truly is the signal of growth. Often, before access to clean water is present, children spend their time collecting water with their mothers.”
"It was truly beautiful to witness such a dramatic change in such a short period of time. Watching these children play warmed my soul beyond words. To think, these children, their families, and everyone in this community will never need to know a future in which their joy is robbed by one of the most basic human needs; clean water. It is incredible to witness.”
This impact was reflected across every other partner community we visited. In the span of a few weeks, we visited projects across Kenya and Tanzania with varying degrees of development – including one completed just a month ago.
Now, this is not something we do only when our U.S.-based team is in the field. Our local projects team is constantly on the road or on the phone, connecting with our partner communities and ensuring the integrity and sustainability of the water systems. That’s one key area that sets Well Aware apart from other organizations: our impact measurement and evaluation processes. We never complete a water system and abandon a community. We are still in contact with that very first community we worked with back in 2010…and every one since.
But, what’s important about visiting communities during these trips, specifically, is that it enables our entire team to better understand and convey the transformation that happens in the field in East Africa, so that we can better show you, our supporters, where your money is going.
It’s an incredible opportunity to reconnect with our mission and the cause that, together, we are all working to solve.
“This was my first trip with the team to East Africa, so everything was new to me. The most impactful part, personally, was being able to help in the medical clinics Well Aware conducted in the communities we visited. It gave me a chance to meet the people and really immerse myself in the culture.” – Amy, Well Aware’s Office Manager
But, although much of our fieldwork is uplifting, heartwarming, and incredibly inspiring as we see what’s possible with clean water and connect with the communities, it can also be heartbreaking and frustrating to see the need that exists and the situations some communities are in. This is especially true when we are working with a community in extremely remote areas that are at a baseline of development.
“As a mother,” Amy explained, “one of the hardest parts was seeing children with illnesses that could have easily been treated in more developed areas. In rural, underdeveloped areas, like those we often work in, these illnesses can be debilitating because they often have to go untreated due to lack of easily accessible healthcare and medicine.”
It’s situations like these that really show the effect of the water crisis and further motivate our team to work for better futures for these communities.
With clean water, development is able to take off, and people are able to thrive as a result. With clean water, health improves drastically as waterborne illnesses plummet and communities gain a reliable source of water to utilize in their clinics.
And, the need for clean water is far-reaching. That’s why our team is evaluating opportunities to expand our work beyond the countries we are already working in.
For the past 10 years, Well Aware has continued to grow in the geographical scope of our work. With humble beginnings in 2010 as a one-woman show in Kenya, to a full technical team working across 65 projects in both Kenya and Tanzania, we are ready to continue expanding our clean water projects across other East African countries.
With that in mind, a few of our technical team members headed into Uganda for the first time in June with Well Beyond, our for-profit sister company started by our Founder in 2016. Well Beyond was invited to present its new water technology, for water system upkeep and maintenance, to a Uganda-based organization. So, it made the perfect opportunity for Well Aware to get boots on the ground in Uganda for the first time ever – a place we’ve had our sights set on for a while.
“Uganda was a beautiful country, and in the time we were there, we visited two new communities, met new organizations, spoke with possible project contractors, and interviewed a new team member who lives in Kampala, Uganda. This first portion of our month-long trip in East Africa was eye-opening, heartbreaking, and a huge step forward for Well Aware and our clean water work in that region. To say we are eager to return would be an understatement. As we continue to research and investigate our potential for clean water work in Uganda, we will be holding in our excitement to return to this beautiful country and break ground on projects that will have lasting impact on communities there for years to come.” – Kareece Sacco, Director of Operations
Needless to say, it was a bustling, productive couple of months in the field. Our team is incredibly honored to partner with each and every one of these communities, and we can’t thank them enough for opening their doors to us and expanding our perspectives. We learn so much from our partners on the ground and we are grateful to be a part of this transformational work.
We look forward to many more productive months as we continue to work toward a future where clean water can be accessible by all.
Interested in traveling with Well Aware to witness this impact first-hand? Learn more here.