After a hugely successful Mabweni project in which the Oloosuyian Girls’ Secondary School sanitary block was built, in the summer of 2015 Bishop Patrick visited the project for TKA and Bishops’ Appeal, of which he is chair. He was joined on this trip by Revds Stephen and Jen McWhirter and their daughter Kizzy, who have links with the diocese of Kajiado.

While in the Maasai Rural Training Centre (MRTC) at Oltiasika, Bishop Patrick spent time with Bishop Gaddiel Lenini (Bishop of Kajiado diocese) and Ronnie and Maggie Briggs (Mission Partners with CMS Ireland). While there we had a tour of the MRTC and saw the water collection and storage facilities which are barely functioning due to chronic disrepair. The water collection system, which is currently made up of sheets of corrugated iron, has rusted and is no longer fit for purpose. The three tanks are full of dead animals which have fallen in, mostly lizards and frogs.

At present many of the people in the outlying villages have to travel 17km to the nearest borehole to draw water. We in TKA, however, have experienced a damaging excess of water over the winter months. Even in the midst of controversy over water charges we still have the luxury of being able to turn on a tap and for most people hot and cold running water is available any time of the day. It is hard for us to imagine in our culture and this day in age that people can be in want for water. Television and media do much to let us see what is happening in the developing world and yet this information is so prolific that we have become almost de-sensitised to the need of others. In TKA we are a small church with many challenges and needs of our own. In the midst of this it is good that we are outward looking and prepared to answer the call of Jesus in being a neighbour and loving others as he loves us.

The new project involves raising the money to completely refurbish and repair the water collection and storage system at Oltiasika. The old rusted corrugated iron collection system will be replaced with a concrete ‘slipway’ funneling system down which rainwater will run off the side of the mountain into the collection tanks. There are three collection tanks, each the size of large swimming pools, which fill one from the other as it rains, i.e. once the first tank is full it overflows into the second tank which when full overflows into the third. These will be cleaned out and repaired and covers will be built for these tanks. This will keep the water fresh and clear of debris. A standpipe will be fitted to the water system which will allow for access to the water, instead of the Maasai women putting their dirty buckets down into the tanks which is what happens currently! Once the rainy season comes and the tanks fill this provides water for a year and with the proper upkeep of the system, which would be guaranteed, this project will provide a lifetime of water for the Maasai living in the area. There is also a run-off place for animals, both domesticated and wild, which will ensure the health of the herds and flocks of the Maasai.

The project will be called ‘Maji’, which is the Swahili word for water. The strapline ‘Maji kwa Maasai’ means ‘water for Maasai’ as we strive to bring clean water to the 3000 people who live in the area surrounding Oltiasika. Labels for jam jars will shortly be available for use. The loose change collections in jam jars was such a huge source of income for the last project and meant that we reached the target for fund-raising sooner than planned. To the extent that the last leg of the diocesan cycle, which will be held on 18th June (see elsewhere in Tidings for details), was planned to finish the fund-raising for the girls’ school. It will, instead, be used as the first fund-raising event for this new project due to the amount raised in jam jars all over the diocese. A little loose change, when added up, goes a long way!

A new Mission Group, with the specific brief to consider world mission, has been set up by Diocesan Council and will oversee the fund-raising for this project. The members of the group are Revd Stephen McWhirter (Chair), Mrs Sue Minnish, Mrs Myrtle Nairn and Mr David (Teddy) Sherwood.