by Bob Keeler, Towamencin
The people of Olkeri, Narok County in Kenya don’t have electricity, but thanks to a solar-powered well pump installed earlier this year, they now have a well they can use.
“It’s the first of its kind in that area,” said James Sankan, founder and president of The Shepherd’s Village and member of Towamencin congregation. “Prior to the well, the people were relying on two rivers for their water and the rivers were highly polluted.”
Along with that health risk, the people had to share the rivers with animals and faced dangers such as getting mauled by a leopard or trampled by an elephant.
It’s been 17 years since James, then nine, and his family came from their native Kenya to the United States. After graduating with a law degree and going to work at a law firm, “I got this call from God to do something for the Kenyan people back home,” James said.
Although newly-formed, The Shepherd’s Village continues the missionary work of his grandparents and his parents William and Christine Sankan to the Maasai people, attempting to meet both spiritual and physical needs.
Vacation Bible School in 2012 and other collections from Towamencin Mennonite Church helped provide the water pump. Lowell Bergey, another member of the Towamencin congregation who has been involved in previous well projects in Haiti, is The Shepherd’s Village treasurer and helps with technical advice.
James’ father William, also a Shepherd’s Village board member, installed the pumps and solar panels. An ordained minister, he preached in Kenya during his January through April 2013 trip.
The well was drilled 10 years ago, William said, but, without electricity, there wasn’t a way to pump the water. The well will now serve about 500 families and, although it is now being used, there’s still additional work to be done, including making it more accessible.
“Right now, we’re only depending on the sun, so we’re not getting enough water,” William acknowledged. Adding batteries to the solar-powered system would make it possible to pump more water.
The Kenyan government is planning to bring electricity to the area, but that could take years, according to James. “The schools don’t have running water or electricity,” he said. “The main thing we want to do is pipe the water to those schools.”
There’s also a need for more water storage so it will be available when needed, William added. “Right now, there’s only 10,000 liters, which is not enough for the community. We are trying to get a 100,000 liter reservoir,” he said. “The 100,000 will help the community get enough.”
“It has been a pleasure partnering with The Shepherd’s Village in their wonderful project,” noted Towamencin pastor Mike Clemmer. We have learned so much from them about needs in the world and how we can help.”
The Shepherd’s Village also has plans for medical services through a village clinic. Information is available at www.theshepherdsvillage.org.