Following a fund raising campaign during last summer, Castlebar businessman Pat Quinn travelled to Kenya at the beginning of October with a view to supplying Ulaya primary school and the nearby village at Bericho with a cheap, reliable, potable supply of water.
Mr Quinn arrived at the end of a very serious drought which had lasted three years. People were surviving on relief aid. Their crops had failed because of this drought and even the trees were starting to die. Things were very tough. Many people were dead and their livestock also.
“It was this overwhelming poverty that had originally prompted me to do something to help these people,” explained Mr Quinn.
Following a geological survey with the funds which he had raised, a borehole well was found to be not feasible, as a reliable source of ground water would be at least 300 feet below ground level.
“However, I talked to some people that had an existing borehole well, with a pipeline, approximately 200 metres away from Ulaya primary school, running between two existing water stations.
“After much negotiating they finally agreed to let us connect into their pipeline and to supply us with water at cost price - if we built our own water station,” outlined Mr Quinn.
“I immediately began preparations for the design and construction of a large concrete tank with a capacity of 70,000 litres, purchasing materials, and organising my labour force. After an intense week of activity, I was able to start the project one week after my arrival. The El Nino rains were predicted and this worried me as I knew that these rains would delay or even halt my project altogether.”
According to Mr Quinn the project was delayed and interrupted several times due to the severe rains which began to pound the earth, intermittently, the following week, making the road impassable due to the reappearance of two long time dried-up rivers, which cut across the road making it impassable in two places.
“We were bringing the remainder of the materials for the project in two trucks. One truck had a breakdown; a usual story in these parts, we got stuck for one night on the road. The second truck also had a breakdown. They, unfortunately, had to return to Malindi for spare parts. The rain really pelted down the following morning as we thankfully were returning to Malindi in the first truck. As a result the second truck got stuck in between the two rivers for three days and had to remain in the bush until the water level receded sufficiently, so that they could pass. All part of the joys,” said a determined Mr Quinn.
“Anyway, I got my project completed in the time allowed and the school and villagers can now enjoy clean, potable, water at an affordable two cents per 20 litre jerrycan.
“Prior to this, people, mostly women and children, either had to walk five kilometres to the nearest water station to buy water at this same price and bring it home on their heads, or buy it from a water carrier at 20 cents per 20 litre jerrycan (a huge difference for someone lucky enough to be earning €2 per day ).
“This was my first project to help these needy people and thank God it was a success. I would like to thank all the generous people that supported and helped with this project during the summer fundraisers and hope for your continued support for my next project as well.
“I now hope to start a pilot dairy project with the long-term goal of setting up a community co-operative. As usual all donations, support and advice are welcome.”