Sweetwater Medical and Water Mission 2017

Published on March 1, 2017

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We set out on our first medical mission for Sweetwater Outreach on January 22nd, 2017 from Atlanta, Georgia.  We arrived in Nairobi, Kenya Monday night at 9:00 pm local time.  We had a brief problem with our medications getting through customs that caused us some stress, but the Lord was gracious and we were soon on our way to Kisumu.  After we landed in Kisumu we were met by John Blevins SWO’s Executive Director, Martin Onyoni, and Naftali.  We loaded up the trucks, and traveled the 3 hour route to Kisii arriving at around 5 pm.  We had a brief meeting with Daniel Apapo and the team from the Ministry of Health who were partnering with us for the upcoming medical mission.  There was a group of about 20 people including the Sub-County Minister of Health, 4 Clinical Officers (who are the equivalent to a Nurse Practitioners), and multiple other nurses and support staff.  After the meeting we finally arrived at our hotel: Mash Park.

The next morning, Wednesday, started early at 7:00 AM.  We traveled to our first clinic that was to be held in Nyachenge on the border of the Tabaka Ward.  This clinic is owned and operated by a Clinical Officer named Mary Gorety Rabach.  She was wonderful resource for us as we planned the medical mission, and was our medical liaison in establishing a presence in the area.  There was an opening ceremony conducted by the county Minister of Health as well as other local government officials.  That day our team including Greg Jacobs, Lauretta Price, Sharon Wouters, Alex Corbitt, Lincoln Painter, and myself conducted a clinic involving basic medical care.  We saw approximately 200+ patients that day.

Thursday we traveled to a clinic located on the side of a beautiful hill, set high in the mountains surrounding Kisii.  It was called Giantunde clinic.  This clinic was much busier and we saw over 300 patients.

Friday we concluded our last clinic at another location set on a hill called Nyatika.  Here we saw over 300 more patients.  All in total we were able to evaluate and treat close to 1,000 patients.  These included women, men, children with all varying problems.  We primarily saw issues that are understandable given their tough lives.  These included many problems stemming from arthritis.  There were also many stomach issues related to either spicy foods, possible parasites, but mostly unsafe water.

While we treated patients our water team, including Bernice Reeves, was teaching the waiting patients about the importance of clean, safe water, and how to provide this for themselves and their families.  In addition to our primary care the local health officials set up a cervical cancer screening station / family planning station, as well as a HIV testing center.  This allowed our teams to not only treat primary care issues, but to help address other major issues that face the populations of these areas.

On Sunday we traveled from Kenya to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania where we were to conclude our trip.  On Tuesday after a day of rest we rode by bus for 4 hours to a remote village in the area of Mandera.  There we met with about 20 people who were related to one of the pastors from the church in Dar Es Salaam.  We taught them about health related issues such as food preparation, hygiene, and parasites.  We also taught them the techniques for clean, safe water.

Wednesday we remained in Dar Es Salaam traveling to a secondary school in the area of Tabata.  Here we taught about 40 students about hygiene, food preparation, parasites, and clean, safe water.  The response to the teaching was the greatest at the school.  The 14-18 year olds were eager to hear about how to prepare safe water, and what steps they could take to ensure safe water for themselves, and their families.  We were able to meet with the school administrator and lay out some plans for a follow up trip in the future to possibly install a chlorinator.

Thursday we left from Dar Es Salaam at 11:59 pm and traveled our way back through Amsterdam and on to Atlanta.

Overall, as a team traveling for our first medical mission of Sweetwater Outreach, it was a very big success.  We were able to reach close to 1,000 people, and not only address their primary care issues, but also educate them about safe water which is the source of all their problems.  We give all the glory to God for His support, planning, and administration of this mission and look forward to the opportunities He creates for us for future missions.

Adam Kinsaul, Director of Medical Services

 

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SWO BENEFIT DINNER

Published on October 31, 2016

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Africa Trip : January 2016

Published on February 24, 2016

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Sweet Water Outreach kicked off the new year with a fourteen day trip to Africa. The team, John Blevins, SWO’s founder and operations director, Bucky Kinsaul, the secretary-treasurer as well as fill in photographer, and Adam Kinsaul a nurse practitioner, travelled to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Kisii, Kenya.

Arriving first in Dar es Salaam they travelled to Morogoro, where they spent a few night, traveling back and forth into a small village, Dihombo, nearby. In Dihombo they installed a Chlorine Generator and Adam taught a medical and first aid course. They left two additional generators in Dihombo with a local group that they  trained to install them. The work accomplished in Dihombo was a collaborative work between SWO and VIMI, Vision for Ministry Foundation, which is associated with Mountain Top Church in Birmingham, AL.

In Kisii, John Inspected the water purification systems that SWO had previously installed. Unfortunately, He found some minor structural issues with one of the frames. John was afraid that this was causing water to stagnate but was able to repair it easily and the get the system up and running in better working order! Local Communities play an important part of SWO’s work and John spent several days in Local committee meetings working to build and maintain their working relationship and plans for a future pipeline were discussed. John was also able to inspect a local well that has fallen into disrepair and hopes to be able to fix it as well as install a chlorine generator at a local school,  later this year. Adam, meanwhile, spent his time visiting the local Hospital in Tabaka and several Medical Clinics. He spent one day, entirely, in a clinic treating patients. The clinic usually treats up to 10 patients a day but many more showed up to see Adam and he was able to treat 50 patients that day.

SWO’s January 2016 trip was incredibly successful and will enable the team to prepare for an longer and even more productive trip this summer. As always, the work Sweet Water Outreach does would not be possible without our partners here at home and the entire SWO team would like to thank you for your continued support.

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Have SWO come speak!!!

Published on August 4, 2015

As the summer comes to a close and we anticipate the return of our African travelers, SWO would like to reach out to anyone who may be interested in supporting our work. We are currently filling our autumn calendar and would like to hear from anyone interested in having John come and speak at any event or house party. Thank you all for your continued support.

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Tabaka Academy

Published on August 3, 2015

While in Kenya, The Sweet Water team installed a chlorine generator at the Tabaka Academy, a private school located in the heart of the Tabaka Ward. These images were, wonderfully, sent to us by the family that runs the school.

 

 

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Well Repair

Published on July 28, 2015

John and Austin are now moving into their third week in Kenya. They have repaired two wells and traveled yesterday to Nairobi to pick up Silas who will be joining them for two weeks. Below is their account of the Bonyagwanga Well repair.


 

On the 15th of July,  We went to the well at Bonyagwanga, in Tabaka and surveyed the well determining it was an African Development pump. The community members and chief came out and discussed with us repairing the well to be able to involve them in maintaining and repairing their own water source. After the initial survey we went to Kisii to buy the tools for repairing this kind of pump. Through a series of asking where tools were and following people through back alleys and streets to different shops,  we were able to find the tools we needed. On the 18th, we returned to the well with our plans for repair, the O-rings, the plunger, and the foot valve. Unfortunately, during our attempt to recover the foot valve, we discovered that the pipe going into the ground had broken off. Thankfully, these wells often have ropes tied all the way to the bottom and we were able to retrieve the entire section of pipe through a group effort from the community members and some good ol’ ingenuity. By cutting trees for “push poles” to extract the 76 foot long pipe, we were able to bring it out without bending it to the point of breaking. After the extraction we covered their well hole so nothing could be dropped in it and the community had an official village meeting, lead by the assistant chief, where we answered their questions and they thanked us heartily for what we were doing with them. After seeing what we needed to repair the well we documented our finds, and went back to Mash Park to rest. On the following Monday we went back into Kisii to get the materials to repair the pipe. Returning to the well, we tested all the joints, repaired the pipe, and then commenced to put the pipe back into the well. Once again through the help of “push poles” (cut trees with forks in them) we reinstalled the pipe and pump by 1:30 and joined in the celebration of the now working pump with the people of Bonyagwanga. This a milestone for SWO, because this is our first pump repair and after two years of no water from this well, the people had water again.

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Lars School Project

Published on

Here is an update from our African Travelers.


While in Tanzania, we made a 9.5 hour drive to Ifakara, Tanzania where we met up with the principal from a school that had contacted us. The roads, going out to the school, were very rough and with a hard jolt, it actually broke the engine mount by shearing the metal off, fortunately everyone was safe and unharmed.

Once we arrived Austin realized that he had raised money for beds, a roof, and bed nets for the children of this school back in 2010 and had never gotten to visit the school. We discussed for a long time about their water sources and quickly realized that their science teacher would be very apt to take on this task, seeing as he understood the entire process happening within the chlorine generator. We set up two tanks that were 1000 liters each (250 gallons). (treat one for tomorrow, drink the one that was treated yesterday.) It will provide more than enough water for over 400 children and staff members.

We are now in Kisii, Kenya and are meeting with the SWO committee here to see which wells they want us to look at, repair, and chlorinate for safe drinking water. Austin is happy because he loves the coconuts here and has already had two.

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UPCOMING : Africa Trip

Published on June 25, 2015

 

The count down has officially begun for John’s next trip to Africa! He leaves in twelve days for Kenya and Tanzania. He will, again, be primarily working in Tabaka, Kenya and will be traveling with a good friend of Sweet Water’s, Austin Wouters. Together they are hoping to begin some well repair in that area.

As always, we are continually amazed to see how God provides what is needed for each trip and are confidant that Hw will continue to provide so that we can continue and expand our work.

 

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John Blevins working in Tabaka, Kenya, installing a filtration system for a local church.

 

 

Our Partners

Published on April 13, 2015

We here at Sweet Water Outreach would be unable to continue our water work in Africa with out the help and support of our partners. BL Harbert and others have been great friends to us and on behalf of our African friends and ourselves, we want to share with you our gratitude to those who have chosen to stand with us in our work to provide clean, safe drinking water.

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Thank you.

 

WELCOME!

Published on April 8, 2015

::WELCOME TO SWEET WATER OUTREACH::

We are thrilled to be able to finally share our new logo and website as Sweet Water Outreach expands into social media! The Sweet Water Outreach family has been hard at work building awareness and  seeking sustainable solutions for the water problems in Africa. Our partners have been so good to us and now we are able to give back. With our Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts it will now be easy for you to stay informed and get involved.

 

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::For those of you who may not be familiar with Sweet Water Outreach’s work::

Sweet Water Outreach is a grassroots organization committed to finding sustainable solutions to unsafe water in undeveloped countries. One of the major myths told in the Western developed world, is that the people living without clean water become immune to the affects, that things like bad water, do not affect them the way they affect us. The reality is that eighty percent of all sickness in the world is attributable to unsafe water and sanitation. These people are simply used to being sick, they live everyday with stomach problems, unable to rehydrate themselves when they get diseases like malaria, and are accustomed to waiting for someone they love to get a deadly water born disease, like Typhoid.

Sweet Water Outreach has chosen a grassroots approach; we are a kitchen table organization. Not just our kitchen table, which is where Sweet Water was born, but also the kitchen tables of the community. Our goal is to become a part of the community, producing a project that the people will take ownership of, a project they are willing to protect and maintain. It is important for clean water to become a part of the education system and with the support of the local community and the international community (you) to be successful in creating a new local mindset about water, and also to be a part of creating access to clean water. Allowing community education to be the forerunner to our construction and installation projects, we hope to create a sustainable project that will continue to grow long after Sweetwater’s work is finished.

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Please enjoy our site and other social media accounts.

We are looking forward to sharing with you!

 

Coming Full Circle

Published on September 16, 2014

About ten years ago, my family met a man named Obey. Obey was from Tanzania and was attending a bible college in Birmingham. One sunday he wandered into the church I was baptized in as a child and where my extended family still attends. This church adopted and ordained Obey. When he returned to Tanzania they helped to support his ministry. Through Obey, my family began to learn about Tanzania and eventually, through him, we were connected to Martin and Charles in Kisii, Kenya. Unfortunately, Obey died from Typhoid about five years ago. Kenny and Thaddeus, along with continued support from America, have continued Obey’s work and the church he started in Dar es Salaam.
Before our trip this year, one of our Sweetwater board members ran into a man in a hardware store. Being the friendly fellow that he is, it wasn’t long before he discovered that the man’s wife, a doctor in Birmingham, was working with a group in Dar es Salaam. When the man went home and told his wife about Sweetwater’s work, she became very interested and requested that we install a chlorine generator at the main church in Dar.  Arriving in Dar we met Joel and Hilda, who lived in Birmingham for almost fifteen years until they returned home to run the ministry in Dar es Salaam.
On our last work day in Dar, Phoebe and I sat with Joel as he relayed to us his testimony and his goals for his organization. He explained to us that the people in the villages often are in need of physical help. They are hungry and poor and their goal was to minister not only to the spiritual needs but the physical needs of the Tanzanian people. His enthusiasm and love for his work was wonderful to experience and when he finished I began the story of Obey. I told him that as a little girl, I had heard this man speak on this exact thing. Obey gave a sermon that I will never forget. He said that he walked into that small church in Birmingham, Alabama and he was homesick and tired and hungry and at the end of the sermon the people greeted him, warmly, and invited him to lunch. Obey always said that this was what he fell in love with first. That we need to attend first to peoples physical needs and then their spiritual needs.
At the end of my story Joel looked up and said, “I know this man, he was my friend!”
^^^ Us with Joel and Hilda along with Kenny and Thaddeus.

Africa 1.15

Published on September 14, 2014

        In Dar es Salaam, we installed a chlorine generator at an Assembly of God church in the city. A ministry started in Birmingham, Alabama is working out of this church to minister to the villages outside of the city. Like Sweetwater, they are a young organization, not associated specifically with any one particular denomination. Working out of Dar, their goals are to address the physical and then the spiritual needs in the Tanzanian villages. Through a doctor in Birmingham, we made contact with Joel and Hilda Rugano, a local Tanzanian couple who lived in Birmingham for almost fifteen years and have now returned to Dar to start the Vision of Ministries Foundation. Their goal is to use this initial chlorine generator as a demonstration area, and then to send people out into the villages to install more. We spent our last week in Dar working on the chlorine generator for this ministry. In addition to the physical installation, we spent extra time allowing the group to learn how it works and to actually do the installation themselves. We enjoyed our time spent with this group; they are energetic about their work and very much welcomed us into their family.
^^^ The plumber crawling out of the water tank.
^^^ Installing the water tanks onto the concrete pad. They built the pad completely by hand, mixing the concrete by hand, and had the entire thing completed over night.

 

^^^ Daddy going through the generator manual and taking inventory of the supplies.
 ^^^ The Chlorine Generator, built by the Water Step Organization.

 

 

 ^^^ Final installation
 ^^^ Testing the chlorine

 

 

^^^ Phoebe and I also spent some time giving demonstrations on how to dilute bleach into a mother solution of chlorine to use to kill bacteria in water. A chlorine mother solution continues to be the easiest, surest, cheapest way for people to clean their water.

 

 

 ^^^ The chlorine generator was successfully installed and everyone tried the clean african water!

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, Africa 1.14

Published on September 3, 2014

Hello all! Sorry for the delay. We arrived in Tanzania safe and sound. Only took four hours in the car, two unimaginable, unmentionable bathroom stops, an hour flight, a layover, a delay, another hour flight, and the Tanzanian customs to go 750 miles. But it was all worth it just to go to the bathroom in the Chinese built, Kisumu airport.

 

Dar es Salaam has been quite the culture shock from little, rural Kisii.  If Kenya exists in shades of rust then Tanzania is painted in ash. Dar is a much more urban space than Kisii, and much more packed together. Over four million people are living in a metropolitan area, which is roughly the size of Birmingham, Alabama. (Birmingham is home to less than a million.) Most of the buildings and homes are concrete and off the main paved roads everything becomes sand. The traffic in Dar es Salaam is indescribable. Phoebe said, “I’d always hoped that if I was to die in Africa it would be of some rare, tropical disease, I’m disappointed to find that I am going to die in a car accident. I could have done that in America”. The chaos of the Tanzanian road is almost comical, we sit in traffic jams more often than we move, and all drivers do exactly what they want following no traffic laws, traffic suggestions, or even the most basic rules or order.  Motorcycles and three wheeled taxis don’t exist to the other vehicles, even though they almost outnumber them and the motorcycle drivers see their fellow traffic as an elaborate obstacle course with no rules. BUT! Don’t worry because wearing your seatbelt (only if you are in the front, of course) is much more important than perhaps trying to prevent three lanes of traffic going both ways on a two lane road, facing off in a stand still.

Even though Dar is a relatively thriving city, the water crisis is still dire.  In the city, water can be hard to find outside of the rainy season and because it is located on the coast of the Indian Ocean a lot of the water has a high salt content.  Many of the residents have to pay to have {DIRTY} water delivered to their homes.  Dar es Salaam is an eerie contradiction of development and impoverishment. Our hotel room has a doorbell, air conditioning, wifi (most of the time), and running water, but every morning, from our window we watch people with handcarts fill dirty buckets, with dirty water, out of a dirty hose.  There are jewelry stores filled with diamonds and gold and people who are still only making $2.50 a day.  There are cars, and cell phones, and high-rise buildings, but barely enough sanitation to support it and no clean water.

Our contact in Dar has been primarily the members of Grace Primitive Baptist Church. This past week we visited in the homes of some of the members, bringing them filters to clean their water.  Everyone welcomed us with warm hospitality. Mama Victor made us a wonderful meal of rice and cabbage; she is a schoolteacher who supports her family. We drove 45 min, crossing a dry river, to visit Josephine; she rides two hours on a bus to her job everyday. She lives on the outskirts of the city in an unfinished house (which is very common) with a sand floor, two of the bedrooms in the back make up her living quarters, another open room has become a temporary chicken house, and in another she hangs her wet laundry.  She hopes to one day finish her house and have her son come and live with her. Another family of four that we brought a filter to warmly opened their home to us. They live in a single 12×12 room that contains a bed, a couch, and cabinet. Everyone was very kind, and very open to our discussions about water. However, education remains our most significant battle.

 

 

 

 

We visited another local church and met with the associate pastor, instructing him on how to clean their water using bleach.  Using bleach to make a chlorine mother solution in order to disinfect water is the easiest, cheapest way to provide clean drinking water. We hope that the church leaders will instruct their congregations in this method and the dangers of bad water.

Sunday we attended Grace PBC, where the singing was beautiful. After services Daddy gave a demonstration on mixing a chlorine mother solution, to the congregation. They asked very good questions and again we are hopeful that the information will continue to spread.

 

 

 

Last year, Sweetwater installed two chlorine generator systems, one at our driver Kenny’s home and another at the home of Obey’s children. Both systems required some maintenance and repair from routine use. We were able to fix both systems and they are now running again.

 

 

 

^^^Phoebe reading up on the installation directions

^^^ Neighboring little girl who was way to cool for us.

 

 

 

^^^ Totally safe.

^^^ “It’s all about the bubbles”

Kisii, Kenya, Africa 1. 13

Published on August 26, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOODBYE KENYA,
we will miss you.

A Letter To Sweet Water Outreach

Published on

We received this incredible letter from Charles’ son Filden. It has been immensely encouraging and we wanted to pass it along to everyone at home who has played a part in Sweetwater’s work.

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Thank you for the good work done.

We have eyes but we do not observe keenly. We have ears but we do not listen attentively. We have horses but we do not ride. Likewise we have opportunity but we do sit back and watch it slip away. However, the act of someone traveling from as far as U.S.A. to Africa to do one noble task – enlightening people on the importance of drinking clean water, free from bacteria and how to treat it – is indeed a show of concern and passion in our brothers and sisters and it has hit me to me to thank them because it is not my nature to takings for granted.

I sincerely thank you, Sweetwater, also the rest who in one way or the other were involved in your visit to our beloved country Kenya. It has been a good experience to have you around, the good conversations we have had about academic life in the U.S.A and most important, the good task you are carrying out. You have visited several places and taught us how to treat water using chlorine in addition to other methods for instance using water guard or boiling. I was interested to know the importance of the task and you provided an explanation which I think is sufficient to convince any other person alongside the scientific tests we carried out and the chemicals you gave me to go and test whether the water we do take at school is clean or not.

Sometimes we do suffer from diseases for instance cholera, dysentery, and typhoid which cause severe diarrhea that leads to dehydration. Surprisingly, We attribute the cause of such conditions to something else and not water as it is supposed to be. Well, we may have chlorine and would have liked to treat our water to be fit for human consumption. However, how can we use chlorine when we have neither read nor been taught how to use it. This proves that the work you have come to accomplish is highly regarded and it is my wish that people will continue in the practice and God will help you reach as many people as possible.

This is what I have learned. The chemical called Chlorine is bleach and can be used to treat water. It is about 4% concentrated. We need to reduce this concentration to 1%. Therefore, we add water to the chlorine to make the following ratio, 3 water: 1 chlorine. By doing so, we reduce the chlorine from 4% concentration to 1%. We then call this solution “mother solution”. This is now used to treat water by adding specific amounts of the solution to specific amounts of water.  20ml of mother solution can treat 800 liters of water. Shake well and wait for at least 30 minutes. Wonderful! As simple as like that and there you are enjoying your clean water!

It is my prayer that you may continue with the same spirit and I am convinced that the project will succeed. Of course it will expand and posters will be printed sensitizing people about dangers posed by using dirty water and steps to be observed when treating water. Sorry for the challenges you have undergone here and there. As you will leave for Tanzania then to U.S.A, I wish you safe and blessed journey and God’s protection until he avails a chance to for us to meet again. When you get home, say “hi” to our brothers and sisters and tell them we salute them.

 

Filden Kenyanjui

Africa 1.12

Published on

 One of the water projects Sweetwater scheduled for this trip was to have a well dug and install two filtrations systems. Hand dug wells are very common in Kisii, however since they only run about 50ish feet deep, the water is still contaminated with bacteria. For our purposes a well allows closer access to water so that they are able to filter several hundred liters a day in the filtration system.
This week we finished the system that was started last year to go into Martin’s church in Nyachenga and a well was dug in Kiorina at Charles’s church where we built the second filtration system. Ideally these congregations will be able to filter clean water for their families and begin ministering to their communities.

^Nyachenge, filtration system Installation
^This is the guy, who dug the well. He climbed 50ft into the well using only that rope and some indentions he put into the walls of the well. It is unbelievable.
^Kiorina Installation.

Africa 1.11

Published on August 24, 2014

      We spent an afternoon at Martin’s (our driver, guide, handler) home. His wife Anna and their girls taught me, Phoebe, and our new friend Bre (an american we stumbled upon volunteering as a nurse at the hospital) how to cook some african dishes. We made Chapati (a thin flat bread, which is wonderful!), Ugali, and African Tea (which phoebe drinks an entire thermos or two everyday). After we “mastered” african cooking Phoebe and I prepared some Chocolate Peanut Butter Drop Cookies. Our African friends were skeptical but polite, However, Bre (who has been in africa for nine months) was glowing at just the thought of real American sugary dessert. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Our work in Africa, Africa 1.10

Published on August 22, 2014

Africa and other third world countries have received a lot of aid from the western world, very often it isn’t sustainable or simply hasn’t been sustained. Sweetwater’s original goal was to come into Africa and help the people that we were associated with. To stop here would have been a fairly successful and easily sustainable project, but would never have come close to addressing the root of the problem.

This year we have taken twenty-nine water tests, all, except two, tested positive for E.coli bacteria. Our test is specifically designed to test for E.coli bacteria, which is the primary danger in this area. E.coli, from human and animal waste, contaminates the water and, in the best case scenarios, cause abdominal pain and diarrhea. In worst-case scenario, the bacteria can carry serious diseases like typhoid and cholera.  When we talk to the students at the schools, we ask them if they know anyone who has had typhoid and every time, every student raises their hands. Which means, they also, very likely know someone who has died from Typhoid.

One of the major myths told in the Western, developed world, is that the people here become used to problems like these, that things like bad water, don’t affect them the way they affect us. The reality is that these people are simply used to being sick, they live everyday with stomach problems, unable to rehydrate themselves when they get diseases like malaria, and are accustomed to waiting for someone they love to get a deadly water born disease, like Typhoid.

Sweetwater has now spent two years working in Kisii, Kenya. Specifically our work has centered in the Tabaka ward of Kisii County. In Tabaka alone, we have discovered five deep bore holes, most likely this water would be clean IF they weren’t ALL broken. There are at least two water plants, both are producing unclean water and at best are sporadic in their production. Driving through Tabaka we have also seen many signs and kiosks where someone started a water project that wasn’t sustained. It’s important to understand these things and learn from them, not to highlight were someone else failed (these people deserve applause for being a part of the solution and we are only able to move forward on their shoulders), but to better understand the obstacles we face and the best way to build a sustainable project.

Sweetwater has chosen a grassroots approach, we are a kitchen table organization. But not just our kitchen table, which is where Sweetwater was born, but the kitchen tables of the community. Sweetwater’s vision is to work with the community and produce a project that the people take ownership of, a project they are willing to protect and care for. It is more important to create the knowledge and desire for clean water than it is to create a source of clean water. Without education any physical project we build will not be supported or valued by the community and therefore will not, cannot be sustained.

Our goal is to become a part of the community, for the importance of clean water to become a part of the education system and with the support of the local community and the international community (you) to be successful in creating a new local mindset about water, and also to be a part of creating access to clean water. Allowing community education to be the forerunner to our construction and installation projects, we hope to create a sustainable project that will continue to grow long after Sweetwater’s work is finished.

 

 

 

“Charles”, Africa 1.9

Published on

This is Charles.
 Cheerleader.
Kenyan Pastor.
Clean Water Champion.
Eternal Optimist
Always “Very Smart”
(Kenyan for sharp)
AND
The original hipster.

The Soapstone Industry, Africa 1.8

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      Soapstone sculpture is the primary industry in Kisii, Kenya. Soapstone can only be found in this area and its production is one of the main sources of commerce. In the Tabaka ward, where we are doing the majority of our work, there are rows and rows of shops filled with soapstone sculptures and domestic wares. All of the work for these pieces are done by hand and the pieces are truly incredible.

 

 

 


 

Africa 1.7

Published on August 17, 2014

This week we visited an eye clinic outreach run by the Kisii Eye Hospital with help from a group of Americans from California. A Kenyan couple that moved their optomologist practice from Nairobi back to their hometown of Kisii runs the Eye Hospital. Their practice was thriving in Nairobi but they moved it home so that they could be apart of helping their community.  The California group brought with them a Hollywood documentary team. The producer was incredibly interested in Daddy’s story and Sweetwater’s work in Kisii.  We also visited the Kisii Eye Hospital and tested their water and in the future hope to work with Dr. and Mrs. Kiage to make sure that hospital has clean water.

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Phoebe at the eye clinic, she is indeed blind.

 

 

 

 

Dr. and Mrs. Kiage at the Kisii Eye Hospital

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Friday, we spent the day around town, tracking down tanks and running some errands. In Kisii, everything is negotiable and all prices rise when a mzungu is in the store. So we wandered around Kisii town in the rain from one hardware store to another hardware store.

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Kisii Town

 

 

 

Masaai Mara Conservancy, Africa 1.6

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      We left at 3am one morning and drove out to the Masaai Mara, a large animal reserve on the border of Kenya and Tanzania. Coming into the Mara, we drove through a small village on a terrible dirt rode and started seeing zebras and giraffes roaming around with the domestic cows. Suddenly, up and over a hill, the landscape opened up and we could see a huge valley stretching far and away, finally disappearing into the morning fog. We spent the day, driving around, watching the wildebeests and zebras move across the landscape, the lions and cubs napping near to their early morning kills, and waiting for the hippopotomuses to appear above the waters edge.  The landscape in the Mara is stunning and vast and left fairly pure, and the animals wander back and forth from Tanzania to Kenya, as the seasons subtly change. This is Africa as America imagines it. 

Africa 1.5

Published on August 14, 2014


Most of our meals in Kisii have been pretty basic, pretty safe. We eat a lot of tuna (which we brought), eggs, toast, rice, and chips (french fries). However, every now and then when we are feeling brave or particularly African that day, we order ugali (corn meal cooked in water until thick, similar to very dense grits with no flavor) and sumawiki (cooked kale). Of course, we coat it in salt and chili sauce, which isn’t very African and Phoebe and I feel sure that it would be even better with butter, which Daddy says proves our roots. Ugali is not only a traditional local dish; it actually makes up the majority of the Kenyan diet, being the main part of every meal. The truly strange thing about ugali, is that they eat it with their hands, picking it up and squishing it back and forth in their palms until they’ve completely mashed it together. What is even more bizarre than that, is that it truly tastes better after its been kneaded a little.

We asked our waiter, Ben (who takes very good care of us), why they play with their ugali before they eat it and he told us one of the local legends: Along time ago, a woman was sitting at her fire, stirring a huge pot of ugali. While she stirred, she rocked her baby in her lap. Suddenly! The baby fell into the pot of ugali and disappeared! So, ever after that, Kenyans squeeze their ugali before they eat it, just in case the baby is hiding.

We asked Martin if that was a common legend and he said it was, but that there was also another one: Along time ago there was a Kenyan man with two wives (which was and is very common). One of the wives was incredibly jealous and the other wife and wanted to get ride of her. So the first wife poisoned the ugali to kill the second wife. The second wife, hearing that the ugali had been poisoned but being very hungry, squeezed all of the poison out before she ate it and lived a very long time.

Africa 1.4

Published on August 11, 2014

Sunday morning. Afternoon. (remember “african time”)we attended Kiorina Primitive Baptist Church. We are starting to master singing in Swahili, or at least we can mumble the tune attached to some generic syllables, and we actually, Sort of, managed some harmony for a few of the more common melodies.

Kiorina Church meets in a very small building, but put up a tent in anticipation of a larger crowd. It was very pleasant.

In the African churches, they request all of the visitors to stand up and introduce themselves, which is terribly awkward and very kind. After church we stood up with Daddy as he explained, again, the goals of Sweetwater Outreach in Kenya.  Last week, Phoebe and I gave a short version of our health and hygiene talk, and when we sat down this week with out saying anything, they begged for us to come back and go through the 10 step hand washing process.

After Church they prepared for us a wonderful African meal of rice, beans, chapatti, and boiled bananas (which taste a lot like potatoes). The children eat bread and hot coca-colas and are thrilled.

 

 

 

 

 

Africa 1.3

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Monday, a week ago, we met our half way point for our time in Kenya! We are now speeding towards the halfway mark for our entire trip. We have continued to be productive even on “Africa time”.

[Africans say,  “Americans have the watches, and Africans have the time.]

We visited two more schools this past week. When we pulled into the schoolyard the children came racing from every corner to see the Mzungu. (white man).

[All day. everyday. children. and adults. yell MZUNGUS! MZUNGUS!! as we go by.]

Phoebe and I huddled against the car, as several hundred children raced towards us, like waves of ants coming over a hill. It is actually pretty terrifying, no matter how adorable they are. We gave our talk on clean water, 10 steps to washing your hands, and the importance of wearing shoes, to the students at both schools.

[Charles, who cheers us on, said both times we did a wonderful job, and that we are natural teachers. We no longer doubt that our little cheerleader is terribly biased.]

All of the students were very attentive, even though they still giggle when we speak, and they asked very thoughtful questions. However, we knew it was time to end our talk when they started asking about acid rain and if you can boil poison out of your water.

[Children are the same everywhere.]

In addition to the students, Daddy had a successful meeting with a group of parents and community leaders. He also demonstrated to the teachers how to use liquid bleach to make a chlorine mother solution to clean the schools drinking water.

[Phoebe and I gave the chlorine demonstration at the last meeting, where I very gracefully let the water overflow out of the bottle. Luckily one of the members of the YEC (youth empowerment group) came to our rescue finishing the demonstration in Swahili, which was probably for the best, since I am fairly certain the teacher wasn’t understanding our English anyway.]

We enjoyed all of our visits to the local schools and feel very encouraged and hopeful for our test schools to be able to clean their water, using the chlorine solution.

Africa 1.2

Published on August 8, 2014

 Last weekend we had a wonderful visit at Charles’ home and met his family. Charles lives on a piece of his family land in Tabaka, surrounding by his corn fields.  In addition to six of his seven children there were at least fifteen small children waiting to meet us, leaving Phoebe frazzled and a little scared.  From the moment we arrived the children fought to hold our hands, touch our skin and hair, and sit in our laps, all except the baby who cried his eyes out if we got to close. Charles’ wife Josephine, who doesn’t speak any english, was thrilled for us to be in her home and made us a wonderful meal of rice and beans and chapati. Rice and beans are a store bought food and therefore a very special treat. In addition to the meal they also brought in hot coca-colas which are an absolute luxury.

^^^ This is Duke and Anastasia. Duke and Anastasia fought over my lap every time I sat down even though I was happy to hold them both. They smiled and laughed and played a yes-no game with me, which consisted simply of me saying yes or no and them repeating with a lot of enthusiasm. Eventually Anastasia got tired of sharing and leaping off my lap grabbed one of Duke’s sandals and took off across the yard. Of course. As any little boy would. Duke took off after her. As he was catching up she threw the shoe as far as she could and then waiting until he had gone after it, she looped around the back of the chairs and climbed, victorious, back into my lap, holding my hands together around her waist. Needless to say Duke didn’t let this go without a fight and the second time she stole his shoe he had his revenge on his return from retrieving it.

Kisii, Kenya, Africa 1.1

Published on August 7, 2014

 Last week was busy and productive, starting off with a trip to Lake Victoria, which was beautiful. There we had a short ride in a funny wooden boat out onto the water. We had a meeting with a group of local young adults, who are striving to create reform and transformation in their community; they are very excited to work with us and will hopefully be a good asset. Already this week they have been attending some of our meetings and helping translate and communicate our goals. 

 

 

 

 

 

We visited Elder Charles’ Church and met Antonio, one of his members who is very active and organizes multiple projects for the women to help create income. This week, work has begun on a hand dug well near this church and we plan to set up a filtration system when it is complete.


      We have had several other meetings including a meeting with the Head of natural Resources in Kisii and we visited the University of Kisii and had lunch with Dr. John Akama, the Vice Chancellor and several of his colleagues. After lunch we visited the campus and had a tour of their water projects. 

       Yesterday, we visited one of the local primary schools and gave our first talk to the students on clean water and hygiene. All went very well, although apparently everything Phoebe and I say is hilarious.

 

We have found several simple water plants with pumps, and have been very frustrated at the lack of attention and care these systems get. We have yet to test one that produces clean water or even runs full time.

 

 

About Sweet Water Outreach

Published on August 6, 2014

“Every mother in the world wants the same thing; for her children to be happy, healthy, to get an education, and to grow up and have a family of their own.”

-John Blevins, Director of Sweetwater Outreach

Sweetwater Outreach is a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to water purification in third world countries.  Sweetwater was started around our kitchen table and is still very much a kitchen table organization. My Father, John Blevins, is an engineer and worked for twenty-five years, building wastewater and water treatment plants in America. Three years ago as he was becoming increasingly aware of the dirty water crisis in third world countries. He was offered a chance at an early retirement. The summer he retired he came to Africa for the first time and began to test multiple sources of water. Confirming the statistics that he had seen, every test proved positive for bacteria. This bacterium, at best, is creating stomach difficulties for the mass population and at worst is carrying serious diseases like cholera and typhoid. In a still small voice, Daddy became convicted to use his skills to bring clean water to those living in countries like Africa. Together with his family and a few close friends, he began his journey. He researched and he read and the doors opened wide for him.

Last summer, He and my sister, Mary-John, headed to Africa for two months with water filters and high hopes in tow. As they endeavored to teach the African people the importance of clean water, they learned an equally significant lesson in the importance of community and patience. That summer they installed several small household filters and a few larger ones for some of the churches we had contact with in America. Half way through the trip, Mary-John became very sick with a bacterial infection.  My family learned immeasurable lessons that summer and Daddy and Mary-John became immersed in the problems of hygiene, healthcare, and water in Africa. Now my family was personally invested and willing to scale the overwhelming difficulties. They had seen the reality first hand and could not now ignore it.

Back at home; Daddy started a non-profit, for the specific purpose of water purification and at Mary-John’s request named it Sweetwater Outreach.  While sick, in Africa, She read Exodus 12:25-26, and knew that Sweetwater was to be the name of our project. This summer, Daddy, my friend Phoebe, and I are spending two months in Africa to continue Sweetwater’s work. We are working primarily in Kisii, Kenya and are striving to become apart of this community. As the work grows, and the doors open, We are realizing that this project will not be complete to end with a few filters in a few churches and that we cannot abandon this area with still so much to be done.

Sweet Water Outreach

Published on August 4, 2014

“And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.”
                                                                                                                                      Exodus 15:25-26