When I first began this work, I thought it would be simple to scale quickly. I imagined knocking out 100 water systems in a year, every year, as I saw other water nonprofits advertising. I figured it was just a matter of funding available…
It didn’t take long for me to realize that I didn’t want Well Aware to be that kind of organization. Even though charities were cranking out water systems like they were on a conveyor belt, I saw communities devastated by the loss of those systems when they broke down a few short months later. Not only were those systems breaking regularly, I found that they were also not being fixed. Ever.
The formation of Well Aware began as a philosophy, accompanied by a clear moral direction. I didn’t want to do it the way I saw it being done by most other initiatives. It didn’t make sense to me that you would want to make a promise to people – a promise that would change their lives forever – that would most likely be broken.
Why would we offer them only a temporary solution and call it “development”? Why would we treat them like less than whole people with the same basic needs that we have? Even more, how could we build something that was different? And not just different, not just better, but the best. We wanted to build the best model to provide to communities and fulfill the promise our sector has made over the past many decades but has been left unfulfilled.
In the early years, with the guidance and expertise of many brilliant mentors and team, we spent more time trying to understand what was wrong with the way things were being done with those water projects than we did building them. It gave us a slow start to gaining real momentum, but, in retrospect, it was the wisest move we have ever made.
We unpacked the failure we saw to create our formula for success. And, over time, we gained that momentum and we have hit an exciting pace in our implementation of these water projects. But, we will never speed things up for the sake of reporting high numbers. That is our promise, and we will keep it.
I’ve been reflecting on this evolution and our values a lot lately because a big milestone awaits us.
On Sunday, April 24th, we will break ground on a special water project. 12 years since our first water well, we will begin drilling our 100th system.
Our 100th water system is in a beautiful community, called Muruku, in rural, central Kenya, where approximately 4,500 people live.
Before we met them, Muruku was collecting water from contaminated open water sources. Most of the children living there were sick from waterborne illnesses, and there was no hope for their development. In response, 7 years ago, Well Aware rehabilitated a well that had been drilled there by another organization but had failed. We re-equipped the entire system, added pipelines, and completed comprehensive trainings. The community and school were thriving so much after that we later added even more infrastructure to accommodate the growing population and new students in the classrooms.
Ultimately, though, the original casing gave out and destroyed the pump. Since we do not give up on communities, we got to work making plans for the next steps in Maruku. With our expanded knowledge of the groundwater there, as well as the potential for even greater development in the area, we determined a brand new, high yielding borehole would be ideal for this community. So, we are making it happen!
With this new water system – the 100th Well Aware project – Muruku will continue to transform. Their lives will be forever changed, and they will quickly see and feel the Ripple Effect of abundant clean water.
We hope you will follow along on this journey of the 100th Well Aware water project and tune in for our special celebration livestream (Monday, April 25th at 9 am CT) as I broadcast straight from the field in Kenya while we drill the new well for Muruku.
As always, we will also share pictures and videos of the drill, as well as how the community is prospering over time with their new, plentiful source of clean water. And, as with every other community we have partnered with, we promise that the Muruku community will continue to have clean water for many, many years to come.
My Deepest Gratitude,
Sarah Evans | Well Aware Founder