Women removing pipes

Newsletter August 2020

The above photo shows women helping to remove the pipes from a broken hand pump.

We normally write the Charity newsletters after returning from Kenya. Due to Covid-19, this has not been possible this time. Covid has had a number of affects on our projects including:
No flights from the UK to/from Kenya
The school closed since March
Restrictions on the movements of the volunteer engineers repairing hand pumps.

The school is currently closed so, we are devoting much of this newsletter to our project of repairing hand pumps. We have now passed 1000 repaired pumps. But first, some more information about the school.

Children learning in their huts
Children learning at home.

In March, the Government ordered all schools to close. We also had to close our safe house. The Kenyan education department has proposed many re-opening dates for schools with the latest proposed date of January 2021. If they do reopen in January, the entire 2020 school year will be written off. So children will continue in their old class and leave school 1 year later than normal. 

Most of the children at the school are from destitute families, so the school mid-day lunch is an important way for the children to remain healthy. This lunch has also had to stop. We applied to the Kenyan government to allow the lunches to continue, but they would not allow it.

Girls at home for a long time are at risk of pregnancy and early marriage. We have recently applied to the Kenyan government to allow some of the older girls to be moved to the school safe house. This is still under discussion with the government. If allowed into the safe-house, the girls will be safe and well fed. Whilst waiting for the Government’s decision, the teachers are inviting small groups of older girls into the school playground for guidance and counselling. The topics revolve around FGM, pregnancy and early marriage.

In most Western countries, children are continuing to learn through the internet. This poses challenges in the African Bush where there is no way of charging electrical devices and mobile internet signal is poor. Rich children in Nairobi are learning through the internet so this missed year is creating a rich/poor and urban/rural divide with our children being in the poor & rural group. Rather than writing off the school year, we are trying to find ways to allow the children to continue to learn but in a covid safe environment. As the photo above shows, the teachers are setting work and taking the school’s computers to small groups of children in their huts so that the children can continue to learn. We have had to buy modems and mobile data bundles so that the children can access the internet but we are saving on the cost of school food.

We have continued to pay staff salaries. Working staff are paid full salaries. Staff members who are not in school, receive 80% of their salary. Most other Private schools are paying no salaries but Government schools are paying full salaries.

A happy child
Pump repaired – a happy child

It has been a challenging few months for the pump repair project. In March, there were very heavy rains that made reaching the rural pumps almost impossible. At the same time, Northern Kenya suffered its worst plague of locusts since 70 years. Added to this, Covid-19 hit the country in late March resulting in a night-time curfew and travel restrictions. In the early days of the curfew, it was reported that more people were killed by the police enforcing the curfew than were killed by the virus. Moving pumps across the country became very difficult and some of our pumps engineers were hurt in the unrest so we stopped the project for a few weeks.

Many villages were badly flooded

The county governments then sent us letters requesting us to restart the pump repairs. After the governments issued us PPE and letters authorising night time travel, we restarted the project. This has allowed us to continue to repair pumps at around 15-20 per month. The clean water is desperately needed during Covid for hand washing and sanitation.

Another hand pump brought back to life. Last month, we passed 1000 repaired hand pumps. Collecting water is the job of women and girls. A broken pumps usually means a round trip of many miles to fetch water from an alternative source and girls who spend hours carrying water cannot go to school. At an average of 250 people using each pump, we have now helped 250,000 to have access to clean local water and have enabled numerous girls to attend school.

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Helen & Roger August 2020

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26 thoughts on “Newsletter August 2020”

  1. Thank you for all the news of Osiligi and the neighbourhood. In spite of the difficulties, there is so much that is positive. I am pleased that you are continuing to repair the hand pumps; affecting the lives of 250,000 people is really impressive. I have read how the provision of solar lights has allowed studying to continue in the home after sunset. Could solar panels provide enough power for iPads or phones?

    1. Hi Gill & Edward. Yes, solar panels can provide enough power for charging large electrical devices, and this is how the electricity at the school is produced. However, the panels are expensive and tend to be a thief magnet. Twice, thieves have tried to steal the panels from one of our boreholes. They have not succeeded, but in doing so, the panels are broken. Some solar lights have a small 5V outlet for the charging of mobile phones.

  2. Thank you for your honest newsletter, letting us know how things are. It is wonderful what you are doing and also all the folk working at the school and on the water pumps.

  3. Thank you both for the update. It’s certainly a lesson to be learned when we feel things are difficult for us in the UK , queuing for shopping and pharmacy but at at least we can get abundance of food, financial help for some of us and medications . A huge leveller Helen. Please don’t worry about drawings from the children. It’s the last thing they need to do We are just thinking of them and their families with so much against them .
    Kindest regards

  4. Hi Helen and Roger,
    As always I am so humbled by the contents of your newsletter. What a resilient people …. Covid, locusts, floods and food shortages, and yet look at the smile of the young boy enjoying clean, fresh water.
    With my very best wishes and prayers,

  5. Thank you Helen and Roger. I feel so appreciative of what you do; making such a difference to people’s lives. I’m especially touched by the work with women and girls, who can make such a positive difference to any society when they can play a full part – by not spending half the day carrying water, or getting pregnant too young for example. I have so much; not least peace and safety, and I wish it for the Masai people and everyone.
    In my Zoom singing session this morning we sang this lovely ‘women’s song’ from The Gambia that I’d like to share with you; I can easily imagine the brightly-coloured Masai women singing this together with much joy:
    Blessings on you both xx

  6. Thank you both for the latest newsletter. So much to be thankful for despite all the problems. Water is so important and it is reassuring that the girls are being helped.
    You will be frustrated by being unable to see what’s happening for yourselves but it sounds as if the staff are coping well and that they are being paid.
    Best wishes to you both.

  7. You mention that 1000 water pumps have been repaired,as a retired engineer I do not understand why you have so many being broken, are they not of robust design and quality or are they being deliberately sabotaged . Think of you often and wish you well .

    from Jon worshipping at a little country Church in Suffolk

    1. Hi John. Thanks for your thoughts. It’s a mixture of many things. Firstly, the design is old and often the manufacturing is not to the best quality. This then requires maintenance every few years to replace the rubber parts (seals and valves). Unfortunately, the remote communities have neither the spare parts to make the repairs themselves or the knowledge of who to contact to get a repair made. So like many things in Africa, the pumps just sit rusting away. We ensure that the communities have the knowledge, spares and the phone numbers.

      1. Hi. Do you get any support from UK water companies in respect of obtaining better equipment, either advice or practical help?

        1. Plenty of UK advice is available. One of the challenges is to use equipment that is available in Africa otherwise long term repairs becomes a real challenge. Unfortunately, Kenya is littered with Western high tech products that become junk once they break down as nobody has the knowledge or spares to keep them going.

    2. Hello John
      Are you by any chance the John Randall I knew at Enfield Grammar School?
      Best wishes,
      Cottenham, Cambs.

      1. Please excuse my butting in to your conversation, but I attended Enfield Girls’ Grammar School right opposite! Left there in 1970.
        Mary Hall nee Park

  8. So pleased to hear of the continued work but concerned at what you cannot maintain at present. Please say if money can help; we are not wealthy but have so much for which we are thankful, especially in contrast to Osiligi and its Nation so will cheerfully contribute what we can.
    God Bless you for all your work

    1. Along with Roger and Heather I would be happy to make a donation. If those of us who can afford it gave even a small amount it may help to buy whatever food, power supplies or other items you feel would do most good.

  9. Thank you so much to everyone for continuing efforts despite the very difficult times that we all live in. It is tremendously sad the impact that the current crisis is having upon the invaluable education that the children receive at our school. I am so impressed by the efforts that the school staff are going to to try and ensure that the children get some form of education. Hats off to the pump engineers as well, for their sterling work in ensuring that communities continue to have access to clean water.

  10. Thank you both for the update. Glad you’re still able to make a difference in such difficult times. If the staff get the chance please let the children know we are thinking of them and their families and praying they stay safe and well.
    If there is anyway we can help please ask.😊

  11. Hello Helen & Roger, thank you for your update on what’s happening (and sadly not happening) in Kenya during this difficult time.
    It’s great that your able to continue some of your work fixing pumps for water supply. We are so used to turning on a tap for fresh water – for me it’s only when the water supply is temporarily interrupted (as it is here in Spain on occasion ) that I realise how fortunate I am!
    I have a young friend, Sofia, who I have known since she was a young child. She has also started a charity working in Kenya – probably in a completely different part of the country but I thought you might like to know about her work. https://www.awakenlove.org.uk
    Best wishes to you both & every blessing in the important work you do!
    Stephen Maylor

  12. Hello. Just want to echo what others have said. If a small donation towards food, power, mobile data bundles etc would help the children, families and teachers I would be happy to contribute. I think I. A prolonged situation of no school, limited food and extensive poverty the other issues you speak of such as early marriage, FGM etc become a risk. If the families are supported, hopefully so are the children.

  13. I have worked with the Osiligi Troupe for 17 years, both organising and hosting their tours.Up until 2008 the main reason for the tours was to improve life for the troupe members and their families.
    In 2009 I met Roger and Helen. In short, that meeting had to be a miracle, because as a result Helen and Roger set up the charity. Subsequent to that their work for the cause has been phenomenal. The consequent building of the school, the orphanage, the water pump, and all the organisation and administration that these have required, are entirely down to their commitment and determination. On top of all of that they have set up the water pump project which is proving so successful.
    Over the years I have worked very hard for the project, but compared to Roger and Helen’s efforts they were but a miniscule contribution. The Maasai people owe them a great debt.
    To all our supporters I can say that, for me, it has been a privilege and very humbling to have worked alongside them. I view them both with great admiration and love them very dearly

    1. Hi John, lovely to hear from you. Hope you’re getting on ok? Such a shame that the tours have had to stop – they were so amazing and a huge source of income for the village. It was such a privilege to meet the Warriors. Do you remember when they rocked up at my daughter’s wedding?! You did such a tremendous job organising the tours – I hope that one day they’ll be able to start up again. I echo what you say about Roger and Helen – huge thanks and admiration to you all for the amazing work you do. I can only hope and pray that the situation will start to ease soon and the children can get back to school. X

  14. Many thanks for the update on Osiligi,Needless to say welll done the hand Pumps.
    If I can help please contact me.

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