The Mnapendwa Project: Changing Lives

Good Hope Junior students are excited to have clean water at their school

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.

Our staff visited the 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.

The long walk for water

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.

The kids at the dirty stream.

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.

The kids carrry these heavy cans bacnk uphill to school.

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.

Now the students spend more time being kids!


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.

Happy to have water ON campus!

Making the Most of Employer Matching Gifts

Our staff visited the school.

Do you wonder how you can make a big impact and provide more clean water? Do you know whether your employer offers an employee-giving program?

Recently RainCatcher supporters have harnessed the power of their employers’ matching donation programs to magnify the impact of their gifts in some interesting ways. One dedicated supporter was able to raise enough to fund a rainwater-harvesting system at the school pictured above, which provides clean water to hundreds of students all year long. That huge gift was made possible, in large part, by a generous charitable giving program he had access to through work.

How Do Employer Matching Programs Work?

A matching donation is a donation the corporation makes to match the gift of an employee. Typically the employee submits a formal gift request to the company after making a donation and then the employer matches the employee’s contribution.

Programs vary, but companies like eBay, Gap Inc, CarMax, Boeing, Microsoft, ExxonMobil, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, and American Express match the eligible gifts of their employees.

Please check with your HR department or employee benefits office for the details of your company’s program.

What Are Some Ways to Use Your Program Well?

This team raised more money for clean water because of a matching gift

Athletic Events Like Team RainCatcher

Invite your co-workers to get involved. When your company offers to match gifts, you can invite your friends at work to sponsor your race, climb, or run. Christian did just that as part of a recent Team RainCatcher ride. The program provided by his employer, Google, generously matches donations made by all Christian’s co-workers.

A handful of companies, including BP, Intuit, McAfee, Inc., and Penguin Random House, have expanded their matching gift program to also include money raised by an employee participating in a fundraising walk, run, or ride, like Team RainCatcher. In those cases, the company will match donations made even by non-employees.

You can make a difference doing what you love and provide your co-workers and friends the chance to be part of something positive. People love to help because it feels good! If you’d like to dedicate your next race, climb, swim, or other trained-for activity to saving lives with RainCatcher, please contact us today to learn more.

The tank provided by community fundraising and a matching gift

Rally Your Community Around RainCatcher

Rett Frost had a soft spot in his heart for Uganda after hearing about the need for clean water from a priest who was a close family friend. He learned a tremendous amount about the immense challenges faced in accessing clean water and was told about RainCatcher’s work in Mityana, Uganda. Once he knew about the rainwater-harvesting systems and the positive impact in the villages, Rett decided he would provide a tank for a school.

Knowing it was a big undertaking, Rett decided to tap into his employer’s match program and harness the compassionate power of his church community. By telling the story and inviting people to participate, Rett was able to generate a substantial number of gifts from people in his parish. By donating that money to RainCatcher and reporting it to his employer, he was able to double the money he collected.

In late 2016, a school in Entebbe, Uganda received a rainwater-harvesting system as Rett had dreamed. Before the tank was installed, the students at this school had no choice but to walk down the road to this dirty stream to get water and then haul the heavy yellow jugs of contaminated water back to the school.

The stream the kids walked to for dirty drinking water before the matching gift funded a tank
Touched by the quick impact the system made and the elimination of that long walk for dirty water, he asked us to have the dedication on the tank read “Donated by the Mnapendwa Project.” In Swahili, Mnapendwa means, “You are loved.”

These students can spend more time at school with the tank that was provided by a matching gift

Depending on the specifics of your employer’s program, you could organize fundraising through your friends and family, too. You’re limited only by your creativity and the guidelines your employer provides. When people know that their gift is being matched, they’re likely to give and get an extra boost knowing the impact they’re making is even bigger.

If you would like to create a fundraising page online to make it easier for people to donate to your cause, you can “Create A Campaign” as a Rain Maker for our Water Is Life! cause on a secure platform that provides space for you to share your story.

3 Simple & Fun Ways To Get Involved With Us

Have you ever asked yourself what you can do to help those who do not have access to clean water?

We hear from people like you almost daily, asking how they can get involved. People want to be a part of RainCatcher. They want to help! Many people believe, to really make a difference, they either need to be able to give large sums of money or fly to Africa to volunteer. That is not the case.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’d love to be involved!”  or “I am driven to make a difference, but I can’t take two weeks off work and travel like that!”?  Well, you’re in luck! Busy people with other responsibilities can literally help save lives.

One of the things we are really proud of is the simplicity of our service programs and how they are managed by people in the communities we serve. So, contrary to what some may think, we’re not sending teams of volunteers to install rainwater-harvesting tanks or distribute portable point-of-use filtration systems. The implementation of RainCatcher solutions is handled by local leaders and managed by local country staff in Uganda and Kenya.

Portable Filtration Unit Demonstration Clean and Dirty

More than 800 children die each day from preventable diseases caused by poor water and a lack of sanitation and hygiene.

You can make a difference! You’ve watched what we do and you realize that through rainwater-harvesting projects and filtration, RainCatcher’s simple, sustainable, and cost-effective solutions provide immediate access to clean water for those in need.

Here are three ways you can help provide clean drinking water.

Donate Your Birthday Online
You’ve probably seen your friends do this on Facebook, or if you’ve had a birthday in the past few months, Facebook has probably offered to host a fundraiser for you. For many of us, our Facebook birthday is the only time we even interact with the majority of our Facebook friends. They are reminded it’s our birthday and they are prompted to wish us well.

Imagine if the same method was used to put a little fundraiser, hosted by you, in front of each of your friends as they go to post their cake and balloon emojis on your wall?  Many will simply ignore that you’ve announced you’d like to raise money for clean water as part of your birthday, but some, who feel the same way you do, will be grateful for the easy, simple, unobtrusive option to just click and donate. Remember helping others feels great!

Sample of a Facebook Birthday Fundraiser

You can set up your fundraiser through Facebook in less than five minutes. Facebook will help you set a goal and you can even personalize the message. All you need to do is visit the RainCatcher Facebook page and click “Create” at the fundraiser section near the top of our page.

If you would prefer more customization and a page that can be more easily shared via email, Instagram, and Twitter, you can “Create A Campaign” as a Rain Maker for our Water Is Life! cause on our separate secure platform.

Pushups for Clean Water page

This method provides more space to share your story and allows you to share the link wherever you’d like, even on Facebook.

Host An Event To Raise Money For Clean Water
Did you know RainCatcher’s largest annual fundraiser started because a generous couple who hosted an annual July 4th beach party for friends and family wanted to add some philanthropy to their already fantastic event? This partnership has been a great fit and it’s something you can do, too.

July 4 Fireworks Event set up

You can turn one of your annual events into an opportunity to raise awareness and support for clean water. Do you have a family reunion, summer barbecue, girls’ weekend, annual White Elephant or Yankee Swap, Holiday Cookie Exchange, or big camping trip planned? Those all work great!

Or you can create a new party.  Host a viewing of a much-anticipated movie or television event (Game of Thrones? The Bachelorette finale?) or even go back to your trusty birthday well and invite people to celebrate your special day with you and ask them for a donation of $20 in lieu of gifts.  We know people who have hosted a fundraiser like this by inviting people to meet up at a particular bar for happy hour or a particular restaurant for a massive brunch and asked them to donate at the door.  The sky really is the limit.

If you ever struggle to find ways to get your friends and acquaintances together as often as you like, trust us, creating an event around a cause you love gets people off their couches and out spending time together. Everybody wins!

Pro Tip: Because schedules can be crazy, it can be helpful to set up an online fundraiser, as described above, to support people in participating with a gift toward your cause, even if they can’t make it to the live event.

Push-Ups for Uganda fundraising page

You’ll be amazed at how good your friends will feel being able to be part of something awesome. Make it EASY for them with a personalized link to donate!

Dedicate Your Athletic Event to Raising Awareness & Save Lives
Water projects are a natural complement to athletic events and hydration is a vital part of training. Whether you’re involved in a walkathon, a marathon, or something in between, water is crucial. We created the Team RainCatcher concept as a way for you to help us raise awareness of the need for clean water while doing what you love.

Team RainCatcher at the finish line

If you’re like us, you’ll post more than your share of training-day selfies, or heartbreaking bike malfunctions, or even photos as you pack your gear for that Everest Base Camp trek. We would LOVE to partner with you as you dedicate your event to raising awareness and support for clean water through Team RainCatcher.

If you’d like to dedicate your next race, climb, swim or other trained-for activity to save lives with RainCatcher, please contact us today to learn more.

Team RainCatcher Leadville 2017

RainCatcher, Team Rubicon and Paul Revere Middle School Partner to Provide Clean Water

Nepal 3

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE RELIEF:  RainCatcher, Team Rubicon and Paul Revere Middle School Partner to Provide Clean Water

The devastating earthquake in Nepal has resulted in 5,200 deaths and more than 10,000 injured. The survivors are in dire need of basic services, especially those in the more remote areas where aid efforts have been hindered. To make matters worse, the monsoon rains have started this week leaving the most vulnerable to sleep in the rain. Aside from the obvious need for shelter, humanitarian groups on the ground state the priorities as water, food, and medical assistance.

The primary mission of RainCatcher is to provide sustainable sources of clean water. This has been the focus of our work in Uganda and Kenya since 2008. However, we also fully recognize that when disasters strike, one of the most imperative needs is for clean water. RainCatcher has been able to provide water filters to assist with numerous disasters including the Haiti earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.


To provide assistance in Nepal, RainCatcher is partnering with Team Rubicon. This non-profit organization, whose recon teams are comprised of military veterans, has deployed a team to Katmandu with additional support teams to follow. We equipped them with an initial donation of 50 of our most advanced water filters, which are based on the technology used in kidney dialysis. Clean water will be critical for recovery efforts and to avoid the spread of water-borne diseases given the already greatly strained medical resources.

Our donation of water filters for this relief effort was funded by a grant from the Community Service Club at Paul Revere Middle School in Pacific Palisades. The club members, all service-minded middle school students, raised the funds and invited non-profit organizations in the local area to apply for a grant. RainCatcher was selected and received a $2500 grant to purchase water filters that would be used for emergencies and disasters around the world.

Nepal sleep

The recovery efforts in Nepal are only just beginning. The death toll continues to rise as aid workers begin to reach remote villages. It will take many months for the crisis to pass, and years for infrastructure to be rebuilt. RainCatcher wants to continue to support these efforts and replenish Team Rubicon’s recon teams with life-saving water filters. Lives depend on it.

Please donate today so we can support the thousands in Nepal that have been injured and displaced. Our board member, Darin Olien, is generously matching donations received by midnight PT on Sunday, May 3, 2015 up to $2500.


Water is Hope. Water is Love. Water is Life.



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