Gary Murphy, Richard Bourchier and Aoife Broderick
At the beginning of July, a group of volunteers from Allsop and St Paul’s Church in Ealing, London, embarked on a trip to Kenya to install a clean water pipe, funded by Allsop, in the Maasai village of Oloropil.
Thanks to the guidance and support of John Blissett from Willets Safaris and a number of Maasai warriors, we were able to cycle over 100 kilometres across a challenging terrain of dirt roads and mountainous goat paths from Maji Moto (outside of Nairobi) to the Maasai village of Olorte. During the 10-day bike-led safari, we cycled alongside wildebeest and zebra, both a terrifying and breath-taking experience, and became used to seeing giraffes and elephants along the way. We were absolutely dazzled by the raw beauty of the African savannah and forests.
During the trip, John and the Maasai warriors generously shared their knowledge and experience, teaching us how to identify he sounds of lions and leopards at night. In the evenings, we would sit around the campfire learning and singing Maasai songs, creating unforgettable memories.
Over the course of 10 days, we encountered many friendly and welcoming Maasai people. The physical strength of local women was staggering. We learned that they have to walk up to ten kilometres a day carrying 30 litres of water on their heads and backs, while also having to wash clothes by hand in the local water source, usually located very far from their homes. We also found out that a large number of young children have to forgo school in order to help with these tasks, in addition to minding younger siblings or helping the family financially by working as goat or sheep herders, which could put them at a disadvantage later in life.
These daily struggles opened our eyes to the importance of having access to fresh clean water in villages. These things, taken for granted in the Western world, make an enormous difference to the lives within the Maasai community, going beyond the prevention of waterborne diseases. Access to water enables women to free up a significant amount of time, which they can use to educate themselves, support their families and the local community.
When we arrived at our final destination, Olorte, we met and stayed with Hennie Marais of RedTribe. This charity has been supported by St Paul’s Church for over ten years, working tirelessly to create sustainable change within the Maasai community through its school, the Maasai Academy; a farm project that currently provides 13,000 meals a month for the local community and teaches farmers modern farming techniques, as well as a beadwork project that supports vulnerable women.
The water project aimed at providing clean water from a spring to communities across the region is one of the charity’s recent ventures. In collaboration with universities in the UK and experts across the world, it is delivering a life-changing solution to the Maasai, among whom water-related deaths are still rife.
Our expedition culminated in the opening of a water pipe in the village of Oloropil. We were treated to a ceremony in both Maasai and English languages, and were gifted local attire by the villagers which we wore with pride at the event! The celebratory ceremony was full of joy, singing and dancing and was followed by a ritual goat sacrifice.
This life-changing trip opened our eyes to the struggles many people still face today on the other side of the world. I am glad to have been able to contribute to this project as part of the Allsop team — knowing that the water pipe will impact the lives of hundreds of people in Oloropil, some of whom we’ve met, makes us all tremendously proud.