East African famine – volunteers deliver food and water
In June this year, Satnam Flora, Principal Architect at Stephen George + Partners’ Leicester office, joined a group of UK volunteers from the Namdhari Sikh community to distribute desperately needed food and water supplies to two villages in Kenya.
Wearing tee-shirts sponsored by SGP and buzzing with excitement, the group of twelve volunteers met for the first time at Birmingham Airport. Interest about the project and the good wishes of their fellow travellers heightened the group’s enthusiasm, and after an overnight stay in Nairobi, they left for their base camp, at Larsens Camp in the Samburu region of Kenya.
The seven hour journey began through some breathtakingly beautiful scenery, including a view of Mount Kenya in the distance and the wildlife of the Samburu National Reserve, but as the group moved north, the scenery changed and the temperature rose. The landscape became drier and more arid; there were a number of crossings over dried out riverbeds.
Explains Satnam: “The weekend prior to the project, there had been rain. So it was a startling juxtaposition to see green vegetation sprouting from dry, dusty soil. But there was not enough rain to give any lasting benefit.”
The next day, Friday, the volunteers set off at 7am for the first village. The food and water trucks had set off in the pre-dawn. As the convoy moved closer to their destination, called Korr, the road changed from tarmac to a dusty track and the surrounding areas became hotter, more parched and dustier.
A group of local leaders, from the church and the Rendille, the local tribal community, gathered to bid them a formal welcome, whilst villagers waited in what little shade there was. The volunteers disbursed the food – 1kg of rice, beans and maize to each person. The water had already been drawn off into the village tank. The volunteers carried on to the second village, two hours away, where they unloaded the trucks and distributed the supplies to the villagers. In total, 40 tonnes of food and 400,000 litres of water were delivered.
Reflects Satnam: “One of the key beliefs of Sikhism teaches SEWA, a duty of selfless service to others. This expression of that service was a thought-provoking and fulfilling experience that opened my eyes to the severity of the conditions these fellow human beings are facing. One of the village matrons told us “We love you and we pray for you. We are very happy with what you have done for our community.” It was a moving and humbling experience.”
Donations in the UK raised the money to buy the food and water in Nairobi, whilst the fleet of trucks and tankers were donated by the local Sikh community in Kenya.
Finishes Satnam: “My adventure may have finished in Africa, but it started in the UK with the determination of my local Gurdwara to help through the East Africa Famine Appeal, and the donations given by people across the UK, including some £300 from my SGP colleagues, to buy the food and water we were honoured to deliver.”
This is the second delivery organised by the East Africa Famine Appeal charity this year. The long-term plan is to provide the local community with a borehole for wells, water pumps for fresh water and solar power panels to enable them to be self-reliant.
If you would like to help with donations, or to volunteer for the next convoy, please go to www.NamdhariSikhs.co.uk, or text SEWA to 70660 to donate £10.
A last word from James Nicholls, Partner at Stephen George + Partners:
“All of us at SGP whole-heartedly admire the supply convoys organised by East Africa Famine Appeal and are in awe of Satnam’s role in delivering these necessities. Well done and we’re happy it all went well.”