The Maryland District 7620 Rotarians and members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick, MD (UUCF), with safari guides, enjoyed getting to know each other during dinner at the Fig Tree Camp on Friday evening, February 13.
Early the next morning, Saturday, February 14, 2015, members of UUCF joined Rotarians from Maryland and Nakuru-Great Rift Valley to help Oltorotua villagers celebrate turning the well over to them and their Water Committee. Jackson Liaram and the elders organized the event, which began with a tour of his homestead. [Note: Maasai villages are composed of six-eight homesteads, or circles of homes that include kraal (corrals) for cattle.]
Gifts included a soccer ball welcomed by the children.
On to the well site for a tour and explanation of the project and distribution of banners among the Rotary Clubs and rulers/magnifying glasses from UUCF.
The program included representatives from all the groups and these speakers offered prayers, promised to sustain the project into the future, and thanked all who made the well become a reality. The village women danced, there was much applause and the joy on the faces of those who attended said it all. Last, to joyful music, villagers dressed the guests in traditional Maasai clothing and jewelry as a thank you gift.
Lots of photos to commemorate the event ended the dedication. (I wanted to get this posted as soon as possible but you will soon enjoy great photographs by people armed with more than an iPhone camera! Also visit Sandi Smith-Gill’s Facebook page for photos of the entire trip.)
Click here for three short video snippets of the ceremony:
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Click here to read an excellent article on the design and construction of the Oltorotua well.
The villagers have also recently taken part in well maintenance and training in sanitation and hygiene.
The dedication (what Kenyans call commissioning) is set for Saturday, February 14. Valentine’s Day is a great day to celebrate clean, potable well water for a village that has never had it and to see the love and joy it will bring.
Jackson Liaram reports all is in order to welcome guests, from Hellen Mutungi, first contributor to the well, to members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick and the Maryland Rotary Clubs. Many thanks to all who so made the well a reality and special thanks to my friends who contributed. And if you contributed, you are definitely an appreciated friend! Many thanks from Jackson, the villagers, Rotarians and UUCF, and me.
Yes, you can be there even if you can’t take a 10-day trip. And not only watch elephants, lions, and zebra plus more wildlife but attend the well dedication. Let’s start with a letter from Steve King, who wrote the original grant for the Oltorotua village well and has shepherded it to completion via e-mails and a visit there. See below for a lot of good info. The trip through Lori is shorter and very reasonably priced. Here’s the itinerary.
Please also see the message that follows from Lori Wentworth of Travel Leaders travel agency.
The trip is being booked in Kenya through Paul Kirui of www.soinafricasafaris.com. Paul is one of the most experienced safari guides in East Africa and is very familiar with the Maasai Mara and the Maasai Village of Oltorotua. He is also a very good friend of both Mary Bowman-Kruhm and Jackson Liaram. Mary and her family have taken several safaris with Paul and speak very highly of him. I stayed at the Fig Tree Safari Lodge in 2012 and found the accomodations outstanding. Travelers will board a Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) jet out of Dulles, VA, on Wednesday, Feb. 11th. They will return to Dulles on Monday, Feb. 16th at 4:00pm. Both flights stop in Amsterdam for transfers.
As Lori explains in her message, the quote below includes round trip airfare, food, lodging, transportation in Kenya and game drives on Friday afternoon and most of the day on Sunday. Her quote does not include trip insurance. You can buy that from Lori or through another vendor if you wish. I highly recommend it. Also, the Flying Doctors cards will cover the cost of picking you up, providing temporary medical care and delivering you to the airport or a hospital in Kenya, but you should check with your private medical insurance carrier to make sure that you are covered should be admitted to a hospital in Kenya. It can be very expensive. Most people will elect to fly home for extensive treatment if your condition will allow it.
Paul’s employees will pick you up at Kenyatta Int. Airport on Thursday evening and return you to the airport safe and sound on Sunday evening. Please note that the cost below does not include the cost of dinner on Sunday evening, but Lori is touch with Paul to discuss a slight additional increase to cover Sunday evening dinner at the Eka Hotel. More to come on that.
I should also mention that the Travel Leaders’ quote does not include the cost ($50.00) of the Kenyan entry visa and, in addition to a Yellow Fever vaccination, there several other medications as well as anti-malaria medication that you may want to consider. I am not a doctor, but I would not take Mefloquine for Malaria prevention, as press reports indicate that it has been banned for use by the U.S. military because of severe psychiatric reactions experienced by a number of personnel that served in Irag and Afganistan.
This is going to be a trip of a life time if you are able to go. You will be awed at how close you will get to the wild animals of the Serengeti and more importantly, your presence as honored guests of the Maasai villagers of Oltorotua will give you an opportunity to experience first hand the appreciation that the village residents feel towards the Rotarians, UUCF members, and friends who donated through UUCF that have helped them so much. Very few Kenyans, much less westerners, are given such an opportunity. However, it’s now a little less than 5 weeks before the trip begins, so please let Lori know as soon as possible if you plan to attend. One last thing, some of the vacinations and medications must be administered a week or two before you arrive in Kenya, so you need to see the international travel physician asap.
—– Original Message —–
From: Lori Wentworth Lori.Wentworth@travelleaders.com
Subject: Fwd: Re: Kenyan trip
Just received the quote from Paul. With airfare, 1night in Nairobi at the Eka Hotel with airport transfers, Air to the Mara, 2nights Fig Tree , afternoon game drive on 2/13, 2/14 transfer to village and then eve Masai Warrior show, 2/15 am game drive, return air to Nairobi, transfer to international airport for flight home.
Price also includes Flying Doctors cards, and Park entry fee.
Total cost with airfare is $2773.40 per person NOT including trip insurance. Price is subject to change as the airfare can fluctuate. Rates are based on two people sharing hotel/lodge rooms.
Single supplements are $700.00 ( covers private room in Nairobi as well as at the Fig Tree)
Thank you, Lori
Manager, ACC, CSS, CTS
22325 Greenview Pkwy
Great Mills, MD 20634
Saying “trip of a lifetime” is a cliché, but traveling for the well dedication (or commissioning, as the Kenyans call it) is the right term here. For the first time in their history, the women of Oltorotua no longer have to carry heavy water containers and spend most of every day walking 4-6 miles to fetch unclean water. For the first time in their lives, the water they now drink and cook with is clean and conveniently available. The Maasai of Oltorotua are deeply grateful for the miracle of clean water that we helped give them and want to personally thank those who contributed at the February 14 th ceremony. That means Rotary members, my friends and people I met while touting Oltorotua’s need for clean water, and members of my Unitarian Universalist congregation! All of you! In other words, if you’re reading this, you are invited!
There are Options for the travel
Since you will be in Kenya to attend the dedication, you can also visit the Maasai Mara, Kenya’s huge wildlife reserve near Oltorotua. Though alternative two below is priced on very few days in Kenya, even that selection can be extended.
Here are the Options:
1. Two members of my congregation, Bob and Jane Ladner, and I will begin our safari on February 5 at the historic Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi and then travel to Sweetwaters Safari Camp, and the Kericho Tea Hotel, with return February 15, after the dedication. Look online at these locations and you will see no resemblance to camping when you were young! Jackson Liaram, the Maasai junior elder whom you met when he visited in 2013, will be our guide part of the time. In this option you arrange air transportation; the cost of excellent lodging with most meals and transportation within Kenya will be about $5000.00. Contact me (email@example.com) if you want to know more.
2. Rotary members have invited UUCF members and friends to join a shorter trip that will leave Dulles February 11 and return February 15. Anticipated cost will be about $2000, including airfare (a fantastic price if they can make those arrangements). These plans are not finalized and Travel Leaders plans to offer options that allow a longer stay in Kenya and possibly other African destinations. Contact Lori (Lori.Wentworth@travelleaders.com or 301-863-6012).
No matter which option you choose, groups will meet at Fig Tree Camp near Oltorotua on Feb. 13 and 14 for game drives and a chance to experience life in the Maasai village of Oltorotua before the dedication ceremony. Updates as both plans are finalized will be posted here.
Water is flowing from the well and thanks are flowing from the Villagers!
Because of my husband Carl’s illness and passing, I have not posted for many months. However, for several years our Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick (UUCF) has shared our collection once a month (called split-plates) with non-profit organizations not only locally but also in developing countries, where US dollars go far. Digging a village well (with much help from MD and Kenyan Rotary Clubs, who truly made it happen) was one of our bigger endeavors, as those of you who have traveled this blog trip with me for a number of years well know.
The well is now a reality! We received this message from Jackson Liaram, who honchoed the project in his village:
“All is well in Oltorotua, and everyone is very HAPPY with the service of the Borehole. A lot of women are now engaging in income generating activities like beads projects for sale because of saving time from not walking far for Water. Not to mention the improvement of cleanliness in the village.”
Tests show a good quality and quantity of water except for floride levels, which can cause long-term bone and teeth problems. Steve King, retired manager of a major water and sanitation system and writer of the initial Rotary grant, emphasized to the villagers that this is a concern when consumed for many years and “the amount of floride in your water will not hurt or injure you in a short period of time!” Installation of a defloration process to solve the floride problem and also conduct training for sanitation and well maintenance was made possible by MD Rotary contributions coupled with a small UUCF donation and the final grant approved. Special thanks are also due Benson Lukania and Catherine Tomno with the Nakuru club and Tim Winter and Deb Morrone with Fredericktowne (MD) Rotary.
This may seem like a yawner to those of us who flick a faucet to get clean water. But it is not in Kenya! Nakuru-Great Rift Valley Rotary will officially turn the well over to the village between January 15 and February 15. Everyone is invited! From the US, airfare is about $900.00 and a safari guide for a 10-day tour of Samburu and the Mara will add about $5900 to that. Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for questions and details. This is truly a HUGE DEAL in Kenya, with possibly government officials attending and I think I am correct when I say there will be a big Maasai thank you to those of us who attend. I hope to be there and hope to meet some US Rotary members who were so pivotal in this project’s success.
On May 28, U.S. Rotarians involved in digging the well and I received an e-mail from Jackson that read:
We have run from far and just about to finish the race!!!!
On behalf of OLTOROTUA residents, I would like share with you the HAPPINESS and JOY from Oltorotua.
Now we are fetching clean water from the borehole.
Here are the photos he sent to prove it!
Delivery of the new 3″ diameter HDPE (high density polyethylene) water main.
At last the water tank is inserted into the storage pedestal.
And, from Steve King, here’s how it all works:
When the job is finished the DC powered submersible pump will be suspended about 65 meters below ground on a pipe (column) that will be connected to the ground storage tank. About 2′-3′ below the surface the vertical pump column will be connected to a horizontal pipe that will be laid 2′-3′ underground from the well to under the base of the water storage tank pedestal. From the horizontal pipe below the tank pedestal a 90 degree elbow will be install so a vertical pipe can be installed through and out the top of the pedestal. The horizontal pipe will then be connected to the storage tank for the purpose of filling it with water. A different 3″ diameter pipe will be connected to the bottom of the water storage tank. It will extend vertically down through the tank pedestal and be connected to the new horizontal 3″ diameter water main that the villagers will construct to the dry borehole sites 1.6 kilometers away. Water filling stations will be connected to the new water main next to the elevated water storage tank, as well as at the dry well sites. A 5,000-liter storage tank will also be connected at the other end of the water main for the purpose of providing additional storage during periods of heavy use, as well as an emergency backup water supply if the water main should ever break.
The villagers will get their water after it goes through the storage tanks. Once the system is completed, I have recommended that the water be periodically tested for bacteriological contamination, because anytime you store water you run the risk of contamination from exposure to air and by contamination of the piping. Should this become a problem, a simple to operate and inexpensive tablet feed chlorination system can be installed on the piping between the well and the elevated storage tank. That way, all of the water in the water system can be disinfected.
Tank has been set on top of the pedestal and connected to water line from the well. Looks like they are finishing up connecting the solar panels to the DC powered submersible pump. This photo was probably taken just before the ladies and children arrived to begin filling their container with clean water from the new well and storage tank.
Jackson titled this photo, “Villagers run to site after getting the message that water is coming out from the well.” And who can blame them? I would have run too!
Below is one of my favorite photos. The women are washing clothes in clean water instead of water from a stream also used by cattle or from run-off rain water. Note how clever to hang clean clothes to dry on acacia bushes, which have long thorns that act as clothes pins. So clean, such bright colors!
I feel such joy! After our 2008 to Kenya I first mentioned to Jackson my concern about his village not having clean water and he replied that digging a well was a dream of his. We have had much help in making his dream come true. I cannot begin to thank everyone but Jackson and I send our love and thanks. In this world of humans our faces have many colors but we have only one race.
Jackson sent the photo of himself near the well site and wrote, “Attached find the photos of the work in progress on the well site.”
Great news! Ben Lukania of the Nakuru-Great Rift Valley Rotary Club sent an e-mail that the actual work would soon begin and continue until completion–that means the time is short until the women of Oltorotua will have fresh clean water near their homes! Ben finished by writing that “The fence round the tank will be the last bit and I have included an 8 feet gate to deter animals but allow a truck for pump servicing in future.” Since Jackson’s camp is closed for several weeks, he has time to work and oversee the final pieces of the job himself. Dressed less stylishly than in the photo, I’m sure!
Below are Jackson’s photos of the materials being delivered.
Yesterday evening I heard an excellent and fun presentation Deb Morrone and Tim Winter of the Fredericktowne Rotary made about their trip to Oltorotua. Since only one borehole yielded water, work is continuing to supply water from that one ample flow to all the compounds in the village. Tim wrote a request, which we hope Rotary International will quickly approve to change the original grant. Tim’s request said, in part, “However, in order to get the water closer to the other end of the village (1.8 KM away), we have elected to elevate a tank at the productive well and utilize a solar pump and run water lines most of the way to the other end so that we can create filling stations for the villagers.” To keep cost down, the Maasai will dig the trench and lay the pipe and the village mason will erect the tower so the cost for this process would be about equal to the original cost.
Tim and Deb, shown in the outfits from the villagers when making them honorary Oltorotua village members, presented a dynamic program with great photos. The room was dark so the photos, even retouched, don’t capture the presentation, especially Tim’s description of being awakened by lions enjoying a breakfast of zebra a few yards from his tent. Lions are noisy eaters and obviously the zebra was not presented to the female lions and their cubs on a tray!
One slide showed a woman, chair of the Water Project Committee, blessing the well, which right now looks like only a capped pipe surrounded by small thorny acacia trees to protect it. (Since women have much to gain from fresh water being available nearby, we are delighted the Maasai chose three women to include on the Water Project Committee, which will also collect fees for use to pay for maintenance and repairs.) The hope is that work will finally be completed within a few weeks and Oltorotua village, for the first time ever, will have fresh, pure water for drinking, cooking, and washing!
Then we move on to working with the villagers on hygiene and maintenance to keep the well pure and flowing far into the future!
Several Rotarians mentioned the excellent turnout and I myself thought the full room showed interest in the project. I thank Fredericktowne, Prince Frederick, Lexington Park, Leonardtown, and Nakuru-Great Rift Valley Rotary Clubs plus the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick for supporting this project. An aside: Deb and Tim also met with the Nakuru Club and Deb stressed how impressed they were that a relatively small club is contributing so much to better the lives of many Kenyans. Additional projects include building a hospice (Deb and Tim attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony) and water for a local school and for the entire population of an island in Lake Victoria.
Jackson just sent these photos of Tim Winter and Deb Morrone on their visit this past week to Oltorotua.
The villagers welcomed Tim and Deb. Both members of the Fredericktowne Rotary had tea in Jackson’s house with him and his wife Susan. Debbie and the village women made speeches and chatted and met with the Water Project Committee. Of course, the villagers wanted to thank Debbie and Tim and give them gifts. Then they walked to see the borehole and took photos. (I apologize for the photos not being in correct time/order. Guess I need to master how to do that.)