As the President of local charity Rally4Life I probably I reflect upon water issues more than most. Most of us fortunate enough to live in the Okanagan are able to take water for granted, whether we really should is another matter. However, ambling alongside Agnes in the African bush of the Samburu I discover a different reality. Every day, by necessity, she walks about 10 kilometers to fetch filthy water for her family. She will have to scrape away the monkey feces or even dig down into the gravel before she can fill her jerry can. It is an iconic sight to see her haul it up onto her head, an act of grace and elegance, her beautiful face serene and accepting of her fate. I was ashamed that I had never really considered her burden; 40lbs of disease ridden, fetid water, toiling daily along the dusty track. Precious time spent away from her family and endless labour intensive chores.
Was I was here as her saviour? I personally wrestled with all the arguments against such intervention that we hear in the “developed” nations. Was I being presumptuous to even consider that she wanted our help, our meddling, interfering in a culture so far removed from my comfort zone that I could hardly even comprehend her way of life? Was I creating a dependance on Aid? Was I being insensitive and demeaning?
I am so glad I didn’t just listen to the hypothetical, academic arguments. I went to investigate, to feel, touch and smell. To be grass roots and get down and dirty, and my life was irrevocably changed.
I discovered that alleviating hardship is subject to Newton’s third law: Every Action has an Equal and Opposite Reaction. Constructing a well for a community is relatively straightforward and affordable, yet life changing for the village. Wells fill more than jerry cans. They fill a need, giving back precious hours for education, for other work endeavors, a kick start for the economy with agricultural initiatives and micro businesses, and an immense improvement in health, particularly for the children. However, as Newton wisely predicted, the well unexpectedly filled a need for me. I learnt from a culture that values family time, honour, honesty and generosity. My eyes were opened to true joyful exuberance, unfettered gratitude and unforeseen friendship.
All the effort it had taken to get to this point in my life came pouring out in a torrent of tears. All the paperwork, all the legal documentation, all the stress of organizing fundraisers, the leap of faith to give up the security of a job, benefits, retirement plans. It all came flooding out in an embarrassing display of emotion. I was there to join the celebration, to represent all of our supporters, give a rousing speech, not a blubbering, sniffly soliloquy. Yet they understood and gave me grace to regain my composure. They lifted my spirits as they lifted their voices in praise and gave me the strength and purpose to carry on in my endeavours. I may still be naive but it didn’t feel as if we were belittling anyone. We were partnering and providing the initiative for these incredible, enduring people to be able to help themselves create a better life. In return I was given insight into what really matters. We need water, food, family, friendship, time and some peace, but do we really need credit cards, a triple car garage, the Hollywood diet and stress.
I am nobody’s saviour. For some unknown reason I just feel compelled to do what I can to bring some justice to this world. Regardless of corrupt, despotic governments and bloated, bureaucratic agencies nobody deserves to live in such desperate poverty. And thankfully I am not alone. This is not a sad story of hopeless despair. According to the UN Millennium Development Goals website between 1990 and 2010, more than two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources, halving the proportion of people without access five years ahead of schedule. Yet there are still 783 million people to go, so we are not done yet….
Rally4Life will continue raising funds and awareness. Our Advocates will continue to compete, to excel, to strive to achieve pursuing their Adventure’s With Purpose. We have faith people will continue to support us and hopefully more and more people will be able to travel with us and experience an epiphany of their own. As for me, on returning from Africa I found I had brought back more than I took with me, and now I have even more to reflect upon.
President Rally4Life Foundation
Jackie Jennings-Bates, co-founder of the Rally4Life Charitable Foundation launched a book today on the engaging story of starting a charity at the same time working with a husband determined to highlight the plight of poor people around the world with adventure activities.
Jackie shares with us the challenges along the way, the small victories and the juxtaposition of loving to curl up on the sofa and read a good book while husband, Mark plans some audacious overseas adventure.
With proceeds going to the charity you can order by emailing our offices at firstname.lastname@example.org or watch for news on online marketers.
We are so proud of Nataissia.
Her father is a sponsor for one of our advocates, Mark Jennings-Bates with his company Apple Valley Massage. As Nataissia planned her sixth birthday party, she asked her Mum about Rally4Life and found out that young children around the world are dying because of a lack of safe water.
At six years old, she made a decision to take money for presents instead of gifts and she would donate the money to Rally4Life. In all, she raised $100, enough money to save six children’s lives around the world. Better than that, Nataissia’s friends have decided it was a cool idea and are thinking of doing the same thing. We are so proud of Nataissia and her family and wanted to send a big thank you to you from children around the world who need the simple luxury of safe water to survive.
Nataissia is not stopping there though. She is now planning to raise money by selling items at a garage sale her Mum and Dad are hosting… how cool is that. There is no doubt that Nataissia is a world changer and willing to “bethechange”
Thanks Nataissia. You can watch a video message from Nataissia below:
On our latest visit to Northern Kenya to identify feasible safe water projects my 74 year old mum made an impulsive, last minute decision to join us. Upon returning I have encouraged her to write a blog about the experience which we are now sharing with you for your enjoyment. It is fascinating to see someone else’s perspective, especially someone I know so well. Congratulations mum, you are an intrepid traveller and I am glad you enjoyed meeting the beautiful people of the Samburu as much as we do.
The Samburu Project
Jackie and Mark were due to leave in 10 days on a feet finding tour of the Samburu Region of Kenya.
Mark had experienced some of the dire needs amongst the people of Africa whilst taking part in a motorbike safari the previous year. They decided they would try to do something to help alleviate the misery of drought and famine and with no access to clean water.
So Rally4Life was born.
This present trip follows on from traveling with the British charity Just a Drop ( and film crew ) who had gathered the necessary engineers etc to dig a well in the Samburu region north of Nairobi.
They were subsequently inspired to offer funds raised by Rally4Life, but unfortunately the Canadian charity licenses would not allow them to work with a UK based organization. So they approached a Canadian team, Ryan’s Well, who had already worked in the area with the locally based Samburu Project.
This was originally set up by an American tourist who was so impressed when passing through the area, the she joined forces with a local Samburu lady to work with aid sources to improve the plight of these impoverished people. Through Ryan’s Well contact was made with Lucas who set up a fact finding tour for Rally4Life. Unfortunately, one small team cannot change the world, the media are constantly reporting stories where devastating famine and political unrest are decimating whole areas in the world, but as the saying goes, from one small acorn a mighty oak will grow.
Jackie and Mark wanted to be sure that the wells already installed in the area were satisfactory i.e. regularly maintained, sustainable, etc. and if so funding could be released to continue providing more wells in other needy areas. As a family we had visit Kenya in 1974 and had explored this region, I was thus very interested in their plans and we were pouring over a map, spotting places like Nanyuki, Nyeri and Isiolo, when I said how I would love to be going too! That evening Jackie came over and said I could go, did I want to?! My first reaction was “No, I couldn’t possibly do that,” but the next day, I thought why not!
There followed a mad dash to buy my tickets and all necessary accommodation booked alongside theirs, check on vaccinations being up to date, etc.
My goodness how the anticipation was rising! In just 10 days everything was in order, my cabin bag allowance ( no more luggage allowed! ) was packed and we were on our way. Richard was left house sitting with just the dog for company, though on our return I heard he was well looked after by our friends.
We set off for Vancouver to fly via KLM to Amsterdam and from there a short hop over to London UK. On arrival, we spent the rest of that day meeting of some Mark’s contacts, one of them a delightful young lady, who goes by the name of “Squash”. She publishes a magazine for adventure sports people, just the person for Mark’s interests!
We continued our journey to Rugby in Warwickshire to spend a couple of days with friends and family before the big adventure began.
Day 4, 5, 6
Back to London VERY early for the KLM flight to Nairobi ( via Amsterdam )
On board the jumbo jet “to jumboland” there was time to sit back and contemplate what was to come.
One unwelcome piece of news just breaking as we left was that there had been much trouble in the North-East of the Country from the Somali rebels which compounded with the awful drought and famine in the area, causes unimaginable hardship and deaths.
However, arriving at our destination the airport seemed quiet and secure, but as we were proceeding through passport control, the account of yet another explosion was flashed up on the screen on a nearby TV set.
Mark made a brief text to his parents, not to worry! We were fine.
Actually we were not worried for our own safety, just appalled that these things happen. Even so, a crowded airport can be a prime target with so many people gathered in a small space, that we didn’t hang around, but got a cab to our accommodation at the East Africa Flying Club. The drive, like most foreign taxi journeys, was swift!
What a fabulous place, the club house was a glimpse of the past, built at the time in the 30′s when flying was the sport of the rich.
It was all very friendly and comfortable, the veranda, from where we watched (and heard) dozens of tiny aircraft coming and going with passengers touring the vast game reserves. After a good nights rest, we set off by taxi to collect the little Suzuki jeep type vehicle which Mark had reserved for our journey north to the Samburu.
We had lunch with a lovely elegant lady acquaintance in a smart modern shopping mall. We made one or two more visits and phone calls, to set up more meetings during our time in Kenya.
Jackie and Mark drove out and spent the evening with some colleagues thereby getting their bearings around Nairobi which is now a very large, busy, cosmopolitan city. Much has changed here since ’74!!
An early start the next morning saw us on our way out of town (if we could find the route north). The roads were very congested and not at all well maintained. Also there are huge road works in progress, so some of the surface was finished and good. The rest was torture! The worst obstacles were the unmarked sharp edged speed bumps, it seemed to me enough to knock the wheels off our little Suzuki, but we survived!
The traffic was fast, to the point of near suicidal, you would think the owners would have been more sedate, though it is fair to say that none appeared to be damaged in the scrummage.
Now we were really on our way and as we headed north I pondered as to whether much would have changed over the past 35 years. In fact it all looked very familiar, the countryside was green and fertile, the newest venture, lots of huge green houses (This is where our roses and green beans came from in England).
The little towns were much the same having very few modern buildings, but still the huge roadside markets, busting as I remember with people. The same brightly coloured sarongs being worn by the women also as I remember and the enormous range of goods for sale.
to be continued..
Kelowna Charitable Foundation pours out message of hope on World Water Day
Local Charity Rally4Life are delighted to be able to come alongside UBCO students to bring awareness to water issues facing the world as part of the UN World Water Week activities. To kick off the week UBCO will be holding opening ceremonies in the UBCO courtyard on Tuesday March 20th 12-1:30pm. The opening ceremonies will consist of art installations, musical performances, food vendors and guest speakers all of which promise to be interesting and informative and Rally4Life will be there with a fun interactive booth.
This year the UN has chosen the theme to be Water and Food Security, which is something Jackie Jennings-Bates, Rally4Life founder witnessed first hand when she travelled to the Horn of Africa to implement a hand well project.
As Jackie explains, “The majority of the people of the Samburu region of Northern Kenya where our project was based walk up to 20km per day to fetch water. As they are traditionally nomadic pastoralists they depend on their herds of livestock as a food source. During the droughts many animals died putting vast numbers of people at risk However at sites where wells had been introduced, and irrigation was possible, agricultural initiatives were under way which diversified the food available and greatly improved their lives. The safe water source also led to enormous health benefits, a boost to the economy and gave the children time to go to school instead of fetching water”
Safe water is our most essential need. 894 million people (1 in 6) do not have access to safe water. Source: World Health Organization (WHO) .Today 2.5 billion people, including almost one billion children, live without even basic sanitation. Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation. That’s 1.5 million preventable deaths each year, more than all wars combined and 90% are children under 5 years old. Source: Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)
On average women and children travel 10-15 kilometers per day collecting water from dirty ponds and dried up river beds, carrying up to 20 kilos or 15 litres per trip (the average North American uses 400 liters per day).
At the UBC Water Week event Rally4Life want to give visitors a chance to experience what it is like to be faced with carrying your water supply. We are planning to challenge the students to a water carrying race, to demonstrate the true nature of the challenge people face in the developing world. Participants will be genuinely shocked by the weight. However the problems are not insurmountable. In the Samburu a 40ft well with a simple hand pump can provide safe water for up to 1,000 people at a cost of aproximately $12,000 and literally transforms people’s lives. For more information visit www.rally4life.org
The Flight4Life team currently attempting a world record powered paragliding attempt to fly around Australia to raise funds for Rally4Life will also be thinking about World Water Day. After having survived the terrible floods in New South Wales they will now be heading into the notorious Nullaboor desert and. They have produced a special World Water Day message for the UBCO event and you can find the message and follow their adventure at TheFlight4Life.com
Plus UBCO are hosting a variety of other fascinating events, for more information visit www.ubc.ca/okanagan
It seems like there may be some dull moments, but in reality every day has something that crops up to keep us busy.
Whether it is a team meeting to discuss the recent and forecast change in wind speed and direction, or a discussion over logistics with the next set of remote towns we travel through or simply trying to find a place to weld a broken exhaust on the Nissan, every day has it’s challenges.
The natural rhythm of the day is to be up before 5am and getting ready to launch. We are legally allowed to fly 30 minutes before sunrise which of course changes as we travel south and west across the country. It is a beautiful time of day to fly and the reason we start early is because normally the winds are a little more calm.
It has been much rougher than the first week, stronger winds, head winds and hence more turbulence when the thermals kick in, usually around 8am to 8:30am in the morning. The flying goes on until the wind stops us or we run out of fuel. Occasionally that is close to a town so we can carry on and rest in the town or back track a few kilometres.
The locals are always interested in what we are doing and often a newspaper will track us down to chat about the project. That is good news for the Royal Flying Doctors Service and Rally4Life.
Once down, there may be a little maintenance on the paramotors, there is recording of all the flight data for Guinness and updating on the internet if we have a connection.
I have to apologise for not putting up more video’s but we are limited with band width. I will get something up next week but otherwise you can watch out for our Western Canada speaking tour in May and June and come and check out the stunning video and hear the tales first hand!
Later in the day, usually around 4pm the flying starts again. Often in quite extreme weather for paramotoring. The thermals are strong, the winds are strong and our only hope is that they are dying down. Usually that is the case and both wind and thermal strength diminishes in mid flight allowing the flying to continue until dusk or fuel runs out.
Occasionally we need to be aware of the terrain below and wind direction. In the open prairie, we can push until fuel is exhausted and land almost anywhere. In forested areas, we can only land in open meadows which are sometimes very limited or on the road, which means the wind needs to be running along the road or it leads to a very dangerous landing.
So far, everything is at least moving forward. We are sitting just shy of 1,600kms so within the next two days we will have achieved almost quarter of the current world record. While there is no timeframe for the world record we are moving very quickly compared to the existing record even with the challenging conditions we are experiencing.
Watch out for some video files later next week and we will try and get some more photos uploaded too. Please don’t forget to support the charities, every little bit helps and a small amount of money will literally save a life in the right circumstances.