Sumner M. Redstone Foundation and the Kalonga Primary School in Mityana Parish in Uganda

Kalonga Primary School in Mityana Parish in Uganda has been a special project for RainCatcher. They have a larger-than-average school population, a devoted teaching staff with a headmistress who lives on-site with her family, and a group of parents who are involved and committed at an inspiring level.

It’s a poor school, private, with no government support. With almost 1,000 students, almost no budget, and buildings that have seen better days, it’s amazing that these determined adults are holding things together.

The rainwater-harvesting tank is a prized addition to the campus. Its mere presence significantly reduces the amount of time the students need to spend collecting water each day. This frees up time for their studies, just as it frees up some of the school’s limited budget by cutting down on the charcoal they need to make surface water the kids gather safe by boiling it.

Having the tank also seems to be fueling enthusiasm for some restoration projects. The community is so grateful for the water, that they’re rallying around the school to improve other areas.

Even as they pray for rain to fill the tank the Sumner M. Redstone Foundation provided, they try to mitigate the impact that same coveted rain sometimes has on their structures. They’ve dug some trenches to redirect some of the rainwater that flows down the hill and damages the foundations of the newer buildings.

To make repairs and get a little money to support the school population, they recently cut down a very large tree on the property to use for lumber and to sell for cash for other supplies they needed for repairs. On our last visit, that tree had been the site of an amazing ceremony of gratitude. Since that visit last summer, the parents and staff have also teamed up to fix some big holes in the walls of some classrooms.

All of this highlights the significant impact one tank can make on a community. More time spent in school. Less money spent on fuel. A reduction in illness. For a group of people trying so hard to get their kids educated and keep this school afloat, the gift of the tank is one that helps them make more strides every day.

When you’re there, you can SEE the difference it makes. When you’re there, you know that RainCatcher is on the right track. When you’re there, you want to show every RainCatcher donor exactly how their money is changing lives.

These parents, the kids and the teachers are a shining example that together we can do more!

Fantastic Update from Kakoli Village

While in Uganda, we received a report of the measurable and immediate impact observed by a leader in Kakoli Village, one of the places in Mbale our partners with HELP International provided filters to in August.

The news was so simple and terrific, we wanted to share the message directly with you as-is.

Hello Martha,

We’re glad to have you back in Uganda. I hope you had a good visit to Kachumbala.

This has been such a blessed time for us. I wanted to send more gratitude to RainCatcher through you.

Since we received the RainCatcher filter systems last summer, I have have been tracking the results. We’ve found that most of the diseases like diarrhea, dysentery and many others have been reduced by almost 50 percent. These conditions were being caused by drinking and using dirty and contaminated water.

This incredible results is all due to proper use of the filtered water we now have thanks to RainCatcher.

We are so grateful for RainCatcher and I pass my thanks to all of you.

Thank you,
Mugega Sulaiman

Planning “Rain Catching” with the Peace Corps

On this trip, we’re scheduled pretty tightly. The objective is to meet with partners and visit sites we hope to provide with rainwater harvesting in 2012. One such partner is Bryan Kobick who is serving with the Peace Corps at a location in Kachumbala in Eastern Uganda.

Bryan’s project encompasses a church with a large population, a dispensary and clinic, a primary school and a secondary school. He is a teacher at one of the schools and has demonstrated his devotion to the village and the surrounding areas by acting as a key connection as we settle on schools, churches, hospitals and orphanages to deliver clean water to over the next year.

Dennis had visited Bryan’s project in the fall, conducted a demonstration of the portable clean-water systems and confirmed that the climate and the population made it the perfect match for RainCatcher’s bigger systems. He will manage the project of getting of the systems installed properly and as soon as possible, because this community’s borehole isn’t meeting the capacity needs and is in danger of breaking down at any moment.

We toured the grounds, assessed the suitability of campus buildings for a tank-and-gutter rainwater harvesting system, and were thrilled to see the smaller systems clearly in use and benefiting the kids.

The campuses were decorated with signs that delivered advice to the students. We couldn’t resist getting a picture of Dennis next one in particular.

-Martha McBride on the ground in Uganda

The Story of the Voices in the RainCatcher PSA

It can be hard to adequately communicate the magic of some of the experiences in the field. One very special day in Africa this year involved visiting schools a couple months after they’d been equipped with rainwater-harvesting systems.

Father Kizito met us in Mityana to take us on a tour of as many of his parish schools as he could in one afternoon. Two of the schools greeted us with programs they’d prepared to show their gratitude. The music from one of those programs is now the soundtrack for a new RainCatcher PSA.

St. Matia Malumba Secondary School was an incredible sight that day. The 985 students were gathered under a large tree, sitting quietly, awaiting our arrival. After we’d met with the headmistress and signed the guest book, she signaled that they could get up to greet us.

The students surged, giggling in a sea of colorful uniforms, over to the field in front of the school office.

We enjoyed a few minutes of fun being introduced to each other by Father Kizito and headmistress, before the pupils were instructed to return to their places under the tree.

We toured the grounds and inspected the tank that had been installed and was now collecting safe drinking water direct from the sky.

Then, it was time for us to sit, as guests of honor, to enjoy what we had been told was a “special program.” We had no idea what an amazing gift we were going to be given.

The school’s chorus began to sway and sing as student drummers accompanied them. The words, written for RainCatcher, and the joyous sound of this chorus of talented and beautiful singers washed over us.

Combined with the other moments we experienced on that trip to Mityana – teachers telling us about significant drops in absenteeism now that safe water was available at school, pupils thanking us specifically for “bringing me water that doesn’t make me sick,” and a family that walked some distance just for the opportunity to hand us a gift in gratitude for the difference clean water made in their lives in mere weeks – this event at St. Matia Malumba School capped an incredible day.

The whole thing felt touched by the divine. The energy soared with their clear, earnest voices. You could feel the love of it all in your heart and in your soul. The students were all smiles and so were we. We hummed that song the whole ride back to our Uganda home and over the following days we would sometimes play the video just so we could hear the song again.

To have the amazing audio from that “special program” shared with every person who watches Dennis Haysbert’s new Clean Water Ambassador PSA brings it all back.

When you listen, please remember: those kids are singing in gratitude for WATER they can drink. They’re singing for RainCatcher. But, if you’re someone who helps by donating, spreading the word, or by helping raise money, they’re really singing for you.