Northern Kenya… Dramatic, beautiful, dangerous, space, incredible, hot, water is very precious.. theres hundreds of words to describe this amazing place!…
If you have ever been really, really thirsty in your life you would know to plan properly when travelling in Northern kenya.. a normal journey into the desert can very quickly turn into a disaster..
One day we were crossing the Kaisut desert in a vehicle when we thought we saw a lone baboon sitting under a tree and commented.. ‘Wow what is he doing here, its dry and theres no water any where.. ‘ In fact, the black shape was a person who was not far from collapsing from lack of water and had wrapped up in a black ‘shuka’, huddling under a small tree, to try to save his life.. ( he dared not to lie down as that would spell ‘curtains’) .. He heard our vehicle noise and realised this was his only chance to survive his desert crossing.. The black figure erupted, holding his 3 liter container high above his shoulders..
We were not SO certain what to think.. is this a trick or is it real!??? But when we saw his face we realised he needed help… He stood up, it was like an apparition, his ghostly figure contorted and shrivelled.. and came slowly towards the car.. and sat on the bank, NOT A WORD WAS SAID.. and handed his container over.. it WAS empty… We filled his container up, and he sat on the side of the road and slowly drank the 3 liters.. and handed it back for more…
We were totally aghast, and worried for this old man and tried to talk to him.. For ten minutes he sat there starring into space… BUT finally started talking, very quiet for a bit but after also a little rice that he scoffed down fast he had lots to say..( We had some rice left over from the night before and VERY WISE Lesoloyia, said lets keep it we are crossing the desert, who knows!?? )
What he said was unbelievable!.. He was a Rendille man with a mission, and he knew what he was doing….. BUT for the very first time in his life, he took a short cut and made the mistake of filling his container from a well that was more salty than his usual well, and very nearly paid with his life.. Where we found him was quite near to a small lugga with some Cordia trees along it, and he knew that they may be in fruit, so he was trying to save himself by going there.. BUT he said ‘ I don’t think I would have made it’..
LUCKILY WE CAME BY!!!
We tried to make him come with us in the car and we would drop him off in a manyatta further along… He insisted we had saved his life and he pointed into the distance ..’ you see those trees, thats where Im going!!’ We said ‘NO WAY… You come with us’.. BUT he was adamant.. He prayed for us in his beautiful Rendille language and promised us all LOOOONG lives and OFF he went… disappearing back into the desert with purpose in his stride!!..
We later learn’t he made it no problem!
So this is one story but there are many.. As we speak every one in northern Kenya is holding their breath for the rains to come, they should have started end of march….. soooooo worrying times .. the rains so far have failed except for a few places.. its been very patchy..
EVERY ONE IS STRESSED…
All living creatures are walking enormous distances in these dry times to get to water…. I’m sure there is much suffering.. Pastoral peoples, their Livestock and Wildlife..
The Milgis Trust works hard to try to alleviate some of these water stressses.. THE COMMUNITIES… THE COUNTY GOV”T…AND THE MILGIS ARE FOREVER GRATEFUL TO ALL OUR DONORS!!
Our tractor team is one programme! We make pan dams that harvest the flood water.. Imagine if you in the drought are walking 30 even 50 kms to water .. One day you are lucky to have a rain storm and suddenly your pan dam is full of water not far from home.. the absolute pleasure!..
All these new pan dams in the desert waiting for rain..
repairs… Somebody made a nice water project in Lmoti in the desert but as usual these NGO’s come in do a ‘nice’ project then disappear off the face of the earth.. When their project breaks down, the communities have nowhere to turn..… This tank was one such project and Milgis was asked to PLEASE fix the tank as it was not holding water!
SOLAR WATER PROJECTS..
Since 2008 The Milgis trust has implimented 14 solar projects which we endeavour to maintain … In the last year we have been busy with a few breakdowns, and quite a few pumps gave trouble.. Ndonyo Nasipa, Kileswa, Ltepes Ndare ( Mpagas, Marti Dorop, Sarai ) Ilgwe Eldome, but we try to keep them all going and for the communities are always very grateful..
MATEPIS had a brand new water project.. (a few photos, to take you through the process of how these water projects work.. not all Matepis, some from others show you the gist)
The elders came to visit the ‘Milgis’ with a request.. For many years the community from Matepis on the west side of the Ndoto’s have been getting their water from VERY deep dangerous wells, sometimes 30 feet in soft sand, in the middle of the Matabauwa lugga, BUT of course every time it floods they loose them, and have to dig them again..
A huge amount of work for a drink..!
The community decided to dig a proper well at the edge of the lugga.. After MANY months they got to water!..
We agreed to sort the well out for them..and to put a solar pump in.. Here below is the process ending in luxury water piped up the hill to their homes.. They are VERY grateful..
configuration of the wiring is tiresome and complicated, and needs concentration..
FINALLY… somebody who can live with out water.. The Gerenuk.. This most beautiful dainty gazelle..
What a very touching story about the old Rendille man who nearly died, extraordinary that after all he had been through he did not take a lift. The work you do is incredible & I just pray the rain comes soon for this incredible but oh so fragile but resilient enviroment.
What amazing photos Helen. I do hope that you get rain soon, for the sake of the people AND the animals. How lucky was that old man, that you came along? Otherwise he might well not be here. Extraordinary piece of luck for him. They make them tough out there! What a remarkable job you and your “small” tractor are doing. Waiting for rain ,must be seriously stressful. So many people have no idea what it is like not to have taps and a constant stream of water – and they WASTE so much! Despite all this I reckon you are in the best place in the world, and I am very envious. I am cut off from both my kids and all 4 grandchildren (Australia and Luxembourg) and have no idea when I shall see any of them. Also no chance of seeing all my friends in SA. It has been a HORRIBLE year. I long to feel the African sun and experience those vast open spaces again. You posts lift my spirits and do me the world of good – THANK YOU. I read them over and over again. Blessings to you and Pete. What a remarkable life you lead. x