February 28, 2013
Our European Representative Cecilie Malm Brundtland (on the left, in the photo above) led the Bergum family on a site visit to attend the opening ceremony of their first clean water project, in Masikita, Kenya, in memory of Lene Maria Bergum. Here is Cecilie’s report, in her own words:
February 22 (Friday)
Friday morning we had to wait until 1000 [to go into the village of Masikita]because goats had to be cleared out of the village, milked and watered. Some of the school children came to greet us.
Our camp was less than 1 km from the village centre. We walked down the riverbed and came to the well. The elders held the ceremony to bless the well. “Ngai, ngai” [The Samburu deity, whom they praise for the water.]
Before that we had seen and heard from a distance a warrior playing the greater kudu horn, only used for special ceremonies. (Typical in “mugut” ceremonies, where an ox is killed). Five warriors were standing under the tree, fully dressed.
After the blessing of the well we walked to the solar cell panels, where Natalie pressed the button to start the generator.
Then we walked along the pipes up to the centre of the village. What hard work to dig the trenches for the pipes…!
In the village there were two water taps. Pete had commissioned a big sign that was covered by a sheet. Tove unveiled the sign: Lene Maria for Clean Water. Masikita 2013. A Voss Foundation project funded by the Bergum family in memory of their daughter Lene Maria. Implemented by Milgis Trust. It was the same local artist who had done the other signs for our water projects, who this time had painted a beautiful portrait of Lene Maria. On the other side of the sign, Pete had the artist paint: Let us live and drink in peace.
We then walked up to the water tanks behind the village. Two tanks, each 10,000 litres. Pete was extremely happy, as he knew that the tanks also could pump 30,000 litres a day if needed. There is enough water here! As always – Pete had done a beautiful job with implementing the project – as well as [Milgis Trust’s technician]Frances who had worked day and night…
We walked to the school that now has water, [which never had before]. There was a small kitchen where the children get one meal per day. Now they don’t have to carry the water for getting food, which is a major improvement. David (the headmaster) told [us]that the school has 5 teachers and 117 pupils (45 girls and 74 boys).
David gave a speech saying: “…Before our children had to fetch water from the stream and carry the water to the school. For the first time it is running water in the school. Please take our gratitude – God bless you. We will be with you to remember Lene Maria.”
The Bergums had brought pencils and crayons and paper to the children. And skipping rope. Tove, Sunniva and Natalie and Jørgen jumped. Great fun!
We then walked down again to the riverbed and were placed under a tree in the shade. It was time for more speeches and more singing and dancing. About 300 people had shown up for celebrating the opening.
The elder women sang a song about their cattle, giving thanks for the water.
“Now you can see the happiness for all of us.” “Clean water means health.” We have suffered without water.” “We all want to say thank you. This water in not only for this village – but for many other places in the area.”
An old woman stood up and said that the most important thing to her was that before they often could not let the small children go and fetch water because the holes were too deep and they might fall in. They said there had been several accidents. She told us, “I lost my boy from falling into the water 2 years ago. He was only 5 years old. Now we don’t have to be afraid for our children being hurt while fetching water.”
There were thank you speeches from the chief, etc. Arnulf thanked the village and people of Masikita. Kim wanted more information from the village. Spoke to the water committee head, Samaki, elected for 5 years. They will now select 9 members from different corners of the village.
Now the opening was over. We went back to the camp for lunch. Overwhelmed by impressions. But we all went back to the village around 5 pm. Sun went down and the village became so alive.
Moses [Milgis Trust’s manager]had arranged so we could visit the village chief in his manyatta, where one of his wives sat with a son tied to her back (born in July). We got the chance to ask her what clean water means to her and she said (translated by the chief): “My life now will be so much easier! (These women have an incredible workload to do – milking the animals every morning, watering them — the children are sent out to do this – collecting firewood for cooking, fetching water, milking the goats again in the evening…] My children will be healthier and my household cleaner…sometimes before I had to wait all day for my turn to get water – but now I can get on with my other work. I used to have to walk 6 km for fetching food for the goats – then the firewood – then the water – and all the time carrying the smallest child on my back.”
Pete then came rushing and said that we had been invited for tea in another manyatta. We had to crawl inside. Fire burning. Goat skin on the floor. Woman sitting by the fire, her name was Miliaron Lesiokono. Two rooms. We sat very close together in a circle. The lady had 5 children of her own and 5 that she took care of. All of them lived there. Bergums enjoyed the tea very much, it was a special moment. Tea made from the new and clean water with sugar and goat milk. It was so good! Miliarion told us that now that the water was clean the tea tasted better.
Jørgen had found a store. Sugar and beans. Run by mother and daughter.
Then the children returned with the herds after being out all day. Saw silhouettes of the warriors on top of the hills. Turkanas usually steal cattle from children when they return in the afternoon.
Returned to camp in complete darkness. But everyone overjoyed by what they had experienced. Very high spirits around the log fire.
Warriors came back and danced in the dark, joined by C, J, K.
February 23 (Saturday)
Walked until 0830. Were picked up by cars. Lunch at Helen’s Hill [Milgis Trust basecamp]. Then drove to air strip and were picked up at 1600.
Thanks for a fantastic trip to the opening of the 5th water project in Kenya! A big success.
And we say “assante” to Cecilie, Jørgen, Namdalsavisa, Milgis Trust and, of course, the Bergum Family who made this all possible with their generous Lene Maria for Rent Vann campaign!