RECAP: Drilling our first borehole and next steps in East Africa

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Dear Drink Local. Drink Tap. Supporters,

We did it!

Thanks to the support of BNE Water Foundation who gained naming rights to the borehole,  Blue Planet Network’s Team Hope, Katie Spotz, Drink Local. Drink Tap. supporters, Wavemaker Program students in Northeast Ohio, and Laura Watilo Blake’s Gallery Show, we raised the funding needed to help get the borehole planned and installed over two trips to Uganda 2011/2012. In addition, we have collected the footage we need to complete the movie we are currently funding, Making Waves from Cleveland to Uganda. The movie was kickstarted with $5,000 in 2011 by The George Gund Foundation in addition to some donated services from Erin Huber, LESS Productions, Inc. and Laura Watilo Blake.

This borehole project came about when I was speaking in a local Cleveland school about water, I saw letters written on the wall in another language, asked the teacher (who is from Uganda) about them, and she said she visited Uganda a few years ago and visited this school (St Bonaventure) which was full of many orphaned kids. She kept the mailing address for a while thinking about how sad their situation was off the grid in Mullajji Village. One day, she had her students write letters to the kids in Uganda and they wrote back telling students about not having shoes, food, books, clothes, water….I heard NO water, got mad, and started designing a project the next day. I started skyping with Africare in East Africa and others… quick to realize no one wanted to fund this small project. This made me even more upset since these children are not just another metric-they matter.

Teddy, the local teacher in Cleveland, gave me the email to her niece who works in Wobulenzi Town Council, Uganda near this village. She hires, and filters out contractors for the local government and works in water, hygiene and sanitation as most of her job. So, we connected, she agreed to donate some of her services to better her own country, and we began developing the budget after her visit to the school. We negotiated budgets at a distance, she located reliable contractors and engineers, and we had a budget in place before my first trip in 2011.

In 2011, I flew to Uganda with a photographer, filmmaker, myself and brought the local schoolteacher who gave us the connection-we looked at this as the start to a grassroots story for a documentary and the time where we could start the water team with the school/community, have our site visit so we could best decide, with the community, what the appropriate plan should be to bring water to the school (borehole, rain collection, etc.) We also filmed throughout East Africa in the Kibera Slum-Kenya, Tanzania, and Zanzibar.

After that trip, we were able to come back, create an unfinished 26 min movie to help fund raise and create awareness about water access issues in East Africa compared to the Great Lakes Region in the US. Laura Watilo Blake even had a gallery show to benefit the kids and we privately screened the unfinished film. Additional fundraising has occured through direct individuals, happy hour events, and the school children in the US that go through our Wavemaker Program. Last gaps and extras were filled in by the good ol’ plastic credit card and a nice $10,000 donation from BNE Water Foundation- we were their first borehole (well) project and they gained naming rights to the borehole.

Here are some photos from the borehole  installation in 2012:

It took one year for us to get back to Africa ready to implement the project Phase 2 at St Bonaventure of drilling, start discussing Phase 3 with the water team, train the water committee (a joint effort between us and our local Ugandan project manager) and start scoping our next project at an AIDS orphanage. We are currently designing a tap system for Phase 3 at St. Bonaventure and an irrigation and shallow well project for Family Spirit AIDS orphanage in Masindi, Uganda . We focus on safe water ACCESS.

While in Uganda this year (June/July 2012), I also traveled to Masindi to visit an AIDS orphanage there and discuss their water needs. We are proposing two projects there. We are waiting for a budget to negotiate from my contractor there for an irrigation project for the orphan farm so they can minimize food expenses in town by maximizing their farm land and also intend to see about a shallow well on-site so the students are not walking for water, can wash properly, etc. An agreement we intend to have with the school is to shift money saved from food expenses and buy a sustainable supply of soap for hygiene purposes on site.

At the same time, we are designing Phase 3 for St Bonaventure Primary school which will be a 3 tap system- pumping water into holding tanks to gravity feed into 3 taps at the schools. Taps will be located by the cooking/ pit latrine area, the school buildings, and the dorms. The borehole we drilled could potentially serve the entire Luweero District (100,000 people), so we want to maximize the water access for the students before we move on.

There is a lot of work to be done in the world and no single organization or government can do it all; we need to work together to minimize suffering in the world. Over 1.1 billion people on our shared planet do not have access to safe drinking water. Become part of the solution with us though our movie, our local work with schools, or our global water projects. Thank you for your continued support!

With appreciation,

Erin Huber, Founder and Executive Director

Drink Local. Drink Tap.