We’ve told you about how Rett Frost raised money to fund the installation of a rainwater-harvesting system at a school in Uganda, but we haven’t shown you what that looked like.
One thing that was so special about Rett’s gift was his utter commitment to sending a message of love to a community half a world away, in a country he’d never visited.
Grateful for his generosity, we considered needy sites our local staff had identified. We monitor potential sites we haven’t yet been able to support with more than just filters. One school stood out: Good Hope Junior Primary School.
The Long Walk for Water
As is common in East Africa, the students walked long distances down a road, twice daily, to gather dirty water from a ditch.
Leaving eave class in the middle of the day, they filed down the road, avoiding cars and motorbikes with their empty yellow jerrycans, filled up the containers, and then carried the heavy jugs back to school. This was in addition to their earlier long morning water walk before school.
A Teacher’s Challenge
The head teacher Babirye Esther was frustrated by the time spent outside of class, as well as the danger she felt the children were in each school day. But she had no choice! There was no water available at the school and that ditch was the closest water source.
Good Hope has solid buildings and, at first glance, appeared to be well-equipped. And, in a contrast that is heart breaking, this little school is in Entebbe, located within a few miles of both Uganda’s international airport and the country’s President’s “country home.” It is a town that is prosperous, compared to other parts of Uganda. It is a suburb of Kampala, the capital city, and many homes have running water, electricity, and cable TV.
As an organization, we had only one other project site in Entebbe, an orphanage.
Good Hope was a school that one could reasonably expect to have the basics. Yet our Country Director Dennis often saw the students walking to gather water. He lives in Entebbe and this was a sight that bothered him and really stuck in his mind.
With Rett’s tank in need of a good location that Dennis could confirm was in need and would be a good partner, he visited the school for a partnership assessment. The photos above show what things were like during his first visit.
Lives Are Changed
The tank was dedicated at Rett’s request as The Mnapendwa Project (in Swahili, loosely translated, mnapendwa means You are loved). This system has changed a lot for this school. Attendance has improved, teachers report that students are happier and doing better on their exams, and there has been a drop in the illnesses that are so common when kids drink dirty water.
Plus, students no longer take that risky walk down that busy road, missing precious hours of school, just to make sure there is water to drink during the day.
Instead, they’re able to drink clean water on campus and spend their time learning and playing. And, more than anything, that feels like the beautiful results of a labor of love.