In remote areas of northern Samburu it was custom to see females walk up to 12 miles a day to collect water.
The vital source they often found was not always clean, contaminated by wildlife and livestock which could led to waterborne diseases if they drank it.
Repeatedly, girls missed days in school while women had less time to care for their children and less opportunities to develop income-generating businesses in this already dry county, approximately 250 miles north of Nairobi, Kenya.
A 2005 trip to the home of the tribal “butterfly people” impacted Kristen Kosinski so much that she wanted to create a long-lasting commitment initiative to help empower women.
After meeting with female leaders in several different communities in the area, Kosinski teamed up with local female leader Mariama Lekwale, known as Mama Mussa, to launch The Samburu Project.
The non-profit organization began with a strong promise: drill wells to provide access to clean water.
However, after the first four wells the social impact of this initiative proved to be something more.
“One of the advantages of The Samburu Project has been working with the same women, 14 years of work with the same communities again and again and we see how they are evolving. We have seen how, by digging water, they resolve other issues, the children specially the girls start going to school,” Executive Director Linda Hooper said.
The ripple effect of the organization has gone beyond health concerns and inspired the wealth in education, empowerment and businesses creation by all members of the community.
According to Spanish humanitarian and photographer Mamen Saura, the perceived water crisis in the arid area has not posed a challenge to the growth of this initiative for “people are very conscious of the water crisis and they know how many wells can be built”.
Saura explained that though climate change is increasing the dryness of northern Kenya, the organization works with very skilled local hydro-geologist and drill technicians to develop potential water well viabilities taking in consideration factors such as aquifer properties, current land use and approximate water demands of the nearest communities.
For the upcoming Water Action Month, the organization is preparing to launch its Give 22 campaign to promote social engagement in its already global community.
“We want to spread and encourage people to give $22 (USD). If you live in Bogota and support The Samburu Project you could gather your friends and have a yoga class or invite friends to donate and make own personal fundraisers and give $22,” Hooper said.
Why 22? Drilling one well costs approximately $22,000 dollars and, in 7 days of the process, it can change up to 1,000 lives for years to come.
In over 14 years, The Samburu Project has drilled more than 100 wells and will continue expanding on this 8,000 square mile area not only to provide access to safe drinking water but also income-generation trainings and workshops to help educate and eradicate female genital mutilation.
“We do encourage anyone who wants to come to visit Samburu and visit some of the schools that we work with at a donor level”, Hooper said.
For Summer 2020, the organization is preparing its philanthropic travel experience to invite donors and conscious travelers interested in learning more, to visit the Samburu county and see first-hand how supporting this project is giving already more than 100,000 people a new chance to grow in life.
You can learn more about The Samburu Project here: www.thesamburuproject.org
Photos Credits: Mamen Saura, The Samburu Project