Last week I wrote about this village in Kenya, and how the Maasai people suffered from the agonizing trachoma disease, largely due to lack of water. After Operation Eyesight drilled a water borehole in 2007, everything began changing for these people.
The difference between my first visit to Ongata Naado in 2006 (before the well was drilled) and my return visit in 2009 left me with the distinct impression that things were going to happen, but there wasn’t a lot you could put your finger on.
However, upon my third visit earlier this year, the changes I saw were stunning – I thought I was in the wrong village. This dry, dusty outpost on the Kenya plains has come to life! There are fruit trees and acres of gardens growing soy beans, cabbage and other crops, all looking neat and tidy.
Well-built brick buildings have popped up, including a new school, a dormitory, and a community dining room. The school now serves 648 children from Ongata Naado and four nearby villages. There are now 10 teachers, and the headmaster (who was the original teacher in the village) told me that being sent to teach at Ongata Naado “used to be punishment,” but not anymore.
The borehole has its own building which contains the pump and generator, and an electric fence surrounds it to keep elephants away. Water pipes are laid strategically to a long concrete trough for livestock as well as downhill to the gardens and even to other villages. This well is supplying water to some 3,000 people. The people of the village have so much initiative that they are even talking about bottling water for sale.
What really struck me was the mood. The women are thrilled that they don’t have to walk far for water every day, and their plans for the future are exciting. The community is resourceful, progressive and organized to seize opportunity.
This shows you what water can do. Oh, and trachoma, the original reason for the water well? This terrible eye disease has disappeared from Ongata Naado – it is gone, eliminated. The cycle of recurring infection that antibiotics and treatment could not stop has received, you might say, the final nail in its coffin.
I know you’ll agree that this is a wonderful story. But Ongata Naado is only the first of 51 waterpoints in the Narok district where Operation Eyesight began to drill boreholes. Wait until you hear about what happens with the other 50!
And remember – none of this would be happening without the generous support of our donors. So please help us continue this work as we reach into other parts of Africa. Take a look at our Gift Guide to see how you too can help change lives.