January 20, 2012
The first project funded by the Just Around the Corner Art Auction was meant to be at a remote site called Nyiroyia. However, tribal unrest in the area at the end of 2011 forced Milgis Trust and the Voss Foundation to reevaluate the security and effectiveness of building a water system at that place and time. Ultimately, in early January, it was determined that the conditions were such that Milgis Trust was unable to work there. Fortunately, Milgis Trust had not gone too far at Nyiroyia and was able to cease work without great loss. It was agreed that Nyiroyia would be revisited once the tribal dispute had been settled; in the meantime, it would be prudent to begin work in the next community that had been selected for a water project.
The partners decided upon Orra, a site west of the Ndoto Mountains, which Voss Foundation’s President and European Representative had visited in August 2011. Orra has a large community which is just as desperate for water. See below an image of the old well at Orra.
This was a true force majeure and, in such a situation, the Voss Foundation was glad to be working with our oldest and very trusted proven partners, in whom we gave great confidence. We are lucky that Helen Douglas-Dufresne and Pete Ilsey, Milgis Trust trustees, were able to present a viable solution by immediately identifying a new project. The plan for Orra echoes our successful projects with Milgis Trust at Latakwen, Swari, and Ndonyo Nasipa.
“Orra was our next project in line after Nyiroyia, they really deserve to get this incredible gift… It was [a] huge decision to move, but basically most of the work for these water projects is ordering, collecting, preparing the materials, then transporting them all up there… So all we had to do was move it all to Orra, which was a serious feat in itself, but [we] managed!!” – Helen Douglas-Dufresne, Founder, Milgis Trust
Orra is in the foothills of the west side of the Ndoto Mountains with an estimated permanent population of approximately 1500 people. The community houses a school and hosts hundreds of nomads, especially in the dry season, who travel up to 20 kilometers or more to reach this spot. It is also a desired area for elephants since their return to these mountains in the last few years.
“Orra is the safest gateway to the north of the [Ndoto mountains], and there will be many travellers [sic.] enjoying the fresh drinking water here…” – Helen Douglas-Dufresne, Founder, Milgis Trust
Orra has been on the radar for a Milgis Trust Voss Foundation water system for several years. As early as 2010, Milgis Trust had identified it as a potential project site. In the photo below, you can see Helen dancing with the women of Orra!
“In June 2010, we passed through Orra on a safari, and the women came to our camp, and had a meeting with us… Their most important concern was water, and asked us if we can help… Since this day they have been [asking] us to help them in any possible way to improve the water situation… We have had several meetings in the area to discuss the situation…” – Helen Douglas-Dufresne, Founder, Milgis Trust