Grey Mist Lifting

A Weekly Blog About Lives Changed Through Eye Care

Lynne Dulaney, Director of Communications

Water is life in Narok


Now that Operation Eyesight's boreholes provide clean safe water to communities, face washing is becoming acceptable, even welcome, in Narok District. Photo by Ric Rowan.

Travelling by vehicle on the highway from Nairobi to Narok, Kenya, the first glimpse of the Great Rift Valley is staggering. Your eye cannot take in its breadth and its beauty. This is the panoramic road I travelled a few short weeks ago on February 19.

As we drive down the mountain on the narrow yet well-paved road, the valley opens up into a wide flat expanse that is harshly beautiful. There is no water here, although signs of flooding are visible in the deeply corrugated clay – but this is February and there is little rain. The grass is scorched; the trees are no larger than bushes. The sun blazes in the bright blue sky.

Bundles of branches with green leaves sit by the side of the road. The local people make charcoal and package it in the leaf bundles to market it. There is little commerce around here for locals; our driver, Eric, says multinational corporations buy or lease most of the land in the valley to grow wheat. The corporations farm with machines and spray with crop duster airplanes, so they don’t provide any local employment.

I catch my first glimpse of a Maasai man herding sheep, his bright red cloak blowing in the breeze. Later, passing through a small village, I see a man wearing jeans on a motorcycle roar past a group of Maasai women sitting by the side of the road in their traditional attire. My travelling companions don’t think anything of this cultural juxtaposition, although I find it amusing. (But then, they don’t think my first sighting of zebras grazing placidly by the side of the road is that exciting, either!)

As part of a team from Operation Eyesight, we are on our way to Narok District to review our trachoma and water projects. In a land where clean, safe water is in short supply, the boreholes and water points that Operation Eyesight’s generous donors have provided have brought newfound life to many communities.

Maasai women and children walk for miles each day, generic yellow plastic containers in their hands, to the nondescript concrete buildings that house boreholes. They line up patiently twice a day, waiting until the borehole administrator arrives to turn the generator on and start the water flow. (The precious water doesn’t run all the time as it would be wasted.)

In times of drought, there is a separate tap that flows into huge concrete troughs, where thirsty herds of cattle, goats and sheep jostle for position to drink. The tiny goats are so eager for a drink that they climb right inside the troughs.

As the tap is turned on, children wash their dusty hands and faces in the cool water, grinning at me as they shake their wet heads. Not only does it feel good in the heat, but they are learning to keep their faces clean, which helps prevent the agonizing bacterial infection of the eyes known as trachoma.

As I look out at the expanse of dry earth around us and hear the laughter of the children and the happy chatter around me, I am so proud to be a part of Operation Eyesight, bringing water – the source of life and health – to this and other communities here in Kenya. If you could see these happy smiles, you would know that our donors and supporters have truly made a remarkable difference to the people of Narok District, one that warms the heart as much as the sunlight warms my back.

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    6 Responses to Water is life in Narok

    Do operation eyesight have any projects in kenya anymore!!!!???? i see vehicles with the sticker of your organisation just being driven around the towns !!!!!

    Hi Matender, thanks for your comment and question. Operation Eyesight currently has 4 projects in Kenya: Kitale District Hospital, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Narok District Hospital, and Narok District Trachoma Project. You can see them at this link (http://www.operationeyesight.com/Page.aspx?pid=294). Click on the 4 dots located on the map on the left hand side to find out more details about each project.

    Have a great day!
    – from Ming Emma Ko, Online Communications Specialist

    Hi Matender, in addition, if you’d like to talk to our staff about updated project details, please feel free to give Jennifer or Suzan a call at 1-800-585-8265 or 403-283-6323 or email us at info@operationeyesight.com.

    Again, thank you for your interest!
    – from Ming Emma Ko, Online Communications Specialist

    Hello Matender, the short answer is yes, we still drill wells for the Kenyan communities. I have also forwarded your question and email address to Suzan Valenta, our Sr. Fund Development Officer, as she will be able to answer your question in more detail than I am.

    Thanks again for your comment!
    – from Ming Emma Ko, Online Communications Specialist

    Hello Matender,

    I would like to provide you with a detailed response to your query. You can also email me directly at valentas@operationeyesight.com.

    We are currently drilling water wells for communities in Narok district and have plans to move into the Pokot district in 2012. The vehicles you see driving around towns are linked to our hospital partners in Kenya who provide community outreach (awareness, education, early identification of eye health issues). The vehicles are often used to transport non-urban patients to and from hospitals for surgical treatments.

    Please feel free to contact me directly with any other questions you have.
    Best,
    Suzan Valenta
    valentas@operationeyesight.com

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