October 31, 2023

The Oloonkolin Community: Gazelles Need Water too

Within the vast Mara plains of Kenya, lies the Oloonkolin community. The name Oloonkolin in the native Maasai language means ‘’gazelle”, a name so well befit for this community’s sense of unity and tight knit nature. Nested along the great Mara River, the people of Oloonkolin have truly experienced the dualities of nature; the beauty and the danger, adversity and hope.

For generations, this community of more than 3,000 people have utilized the Mara River as their daily source of water for their families. The river has always provided but it has also taken- taken the lives of children. The river is home to crocodiles and hippos and for any child with a 20 liter jerrycan, fetching water for their family after school becomes a life or death situation for far too many. Parents have lost their children, kids have lost their friends, adults have lost limbs and the community has been robbed of many aspiring souls all in the pursuit of water that is not even clean. For anyone who has gotten lucky to survive an attack has always dealt with PTSD from the gruesome ordeal.

The Mara River provides water through all seasons but the water within it is not fit for drinking due to the levels of contamination found in it. The water is highly polluted by pesticides from farms, animal waste and high levels of silt that leaves the water murky brown. Without an alternative, the community has had no choice but to rely on this water. As a result diseases have become prevalent in the community- including bilharzia, typhoid and cholera. With the high level of disease rates, parents aren’t able to work, students can’t attend school, and the community falls behind.

Amidst all of these issues due to the lack of clean water, the community has not lost sight of what they seek the most, “clean drinking water within the confine of a safe environment.’’ This community is tight knit and communal, and over the years has worked hard to get out of their current state, knowing that they will thrive together. It is known in Kenya that gazelles don’t outrun their predators, instead they outmaneuver them, and this is exactly what this community has done all of their lives.

But, this will all change very soon.

Within the coming months, Well Aware will implement a clean water system that will provide clean water to more than 300 families. As Oloonkolin’s clean water journey begins, our commitment to building reliable water solutions continues. With access to clean drinking water, the environment of Oloonkolin will completely change- cases of water borne illnesses will drastically reduce, community members will not have to go to the river again and hence no more cases of wildlife attacks, and most importantly the community will now have something to show for their effort and perseverance. We are honored to know and support the people of Oloonkolin and are excited for this new long term partnership with them.

To learn more about our Water Projects, click here.

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