Population reaches the 7 billion mark today – Halloween 2011

What water challenges will we face as we have reached the 7 billion people mark today, Monday October 31st, 2011 according to the United Nations? This mark will surely pose new challenges to provide adequate food and clean water for all.

With the world’s population more than doubling over the last half century, basics like food and water are under more strain than ever, say experts, and providing for an additional 2-3 billion people in the next 50 years is a serious worry. Right now:

• Some 1.8 million child deaths each year as a result of diarrhea
• The loss of 443 million school days each year from water-related illness.
• Close to half of all people in developing countries suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits.
• Millions of women spending several hours a day collecting water.

As it stands, globally nearly 1 in 5 people do not have access to safe drinking water. By 2025, 2.8 billion people in 48 countries will be facing water shortages. And water demand is supposed to increase by 85% over the next half century. In the U.S., 36 states are predicting water scarcity over the next ten years.

Perhaps the U.N. feels it’s time for us to take a good look at our situation and start addressing the challenges that lay ahead.

A Malibu Visit from Father Kizito

Much of the RainCatcher team gathered this morning for a brief reunion with Father Kizito. He has been traveling in California, visiting different parishes and making the rounds with potential partners in service for the people of the Mpigi District of Uganda.

One of his stops was the RainCatcher office to review all that the Team Beachbody partnership had accomplished in 2011 and to make plans for the upcoming year. On his list were even more schools we plan to equip with permanent rainwater-harvesting systems in 2012 and some inspired ideas for outreach into the war-ravaged northern parts of Uganda.

We shared with him the new PSA, which features an original song from one of the schools in his parish. That led to us reminiscing about the RainCatcher team’s visits to that school and others in March and July of this year, including the day it rained for the first time in months, seemingly in quick response to a quiet prayer with Father Kizito.

His commitment is humbling and by the end of the meeting the whole group was beaming and fired up about next steps. Father Kizito continues to be a key leader in the mission to bring a better life to the children of Uganda, through reliable access to clean water today and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Dennis Haysbert and RainCatcher – Public Service Announcement

Dennis Haysbert, RainCatcher ambassador and clean water enthusiast, narrates this public service announcement on clean water featuring an original song written for RainCatcher by St. Matia Mulumba Kalonga Primary School, Mubende District Mityana Parish, Uganda. The school of 985 students received a rainwater harvesting system in spring 2011 thanks to the RainCatcher-Beachbody partnership. They hosted the RainCatcher team for an incredible ceremony to show their gratitude.

This was an original song written in honor of RainCatcher by their music teacher, chorale leader Nsubuga David.

The school already reports a notable reduction in illness and absenteeism and the headmistress – who lives on the school property – and other teachers say it makes a huge difference to have water readily available to give the pupils.

Lyrics of the chorus:

Our dear visitors you are welcome.
to St. Matia Mulmba
We appreciate the good services
given us from Kiyinda-Mityana.
(Our dear visitors)
We thank you for having thought of Kiyinda-Mityana
and having our school selected
for USA RainCatcher support

Happy Birthday Fred Mango

Since 2007, Fred Mango has been helping bring clean water to the people of Kenya as a RainCatcher partner. He is literally “the man” on the ground.

Whether sourcing materials, identifying suitable projects, or navigating red tape, Fred’s devotion and skill makes the difference in whether a rainwater-harvesting system gets installed now, later or never. His commitment to getting a system in place sooner leads to more lives saved.

This year, Fred was absolutely instrumental in getting 11 community locations – a church and 10 schools – equipped with the permanent tank-and-gutter solution donated by Beachbody. Even the local leaders who’d specifically requested Fred and RainCatcher’s help expressed amazement about how efficient and comprehensive the project turned out to be.

What’s so inspiring about Fred is that he’s one of those fabled “local boy done good.” He grew up in the Nyahera area of southwestern Kenya, not far from Kisumu and Lake Victoria. He has moved on to Nairobi, where he  lives with his young family, is the star employee of an established company and is an entrepreneur.

That would be enough for most people, but not for Fred. You see, he is compelled to give back to the struggling community he came from. He travels back to Kisumu frequently to bring opportunity and secure resources for the people of his own village and surrounding villages.

Everywhere you go with Fred there are people greeting him warmly, thanking him, and giving him gifts to demonstrate their gratitude. He is continually referred to as “such a good boy,” by the  aunties, neighbors, and former teachers you run into while in the field.

In addition to partnering with RainCatcher, Fred has formed a youth leadership group to encourage other educated young people in Nyahera and beyond to help the youth of the area. The are initiating grassroots change by being visible examples of what can be achieved by staying in school and by providing practical hands-on training in computers, business, sports and health.

By extension, RainCatcher now has a growing legion of knowledgeable supporters in the area – teachers, business owners, mothers and more. They’re like an army of optimistic agents-for-change in blue RainCatcher shirts.

In a way, through his tireless commitment, Fred is a revolutionary. With his powerful vision and his big heart, Fred is bringing more than just clean water to the people he cares about; he’s bringing a brighter future and hope.

Today we celebrate the birthday of someone who’s more than just “a good boy.” Fred Mango is a great man!