“I was really proud of what we achieved”
Building a sand dam is hard work, but it's also very rewarding.
Building a sand dam is all about working together.
The completed sand dam, which will now provide the Mutethya self-help group with a reliable source of water.
In May 2013, a group of volunteers travelled to Kenya to help build a sand dam with the Mutethya self-help group. The expedition was organised in partnership with TRAIN, a youth work charity that supports vulnerable young people in the UK. The volunteering opportunity provided the participants with a unique chance to improve self-belief and emotional wellbeing, as well as developing social skills and gaining a broader world perspective.
Members of the Mutethya self-help group were also facing many challenges. The community suffered severe water shortages, which meant they had to travel for two hours each day to fetch water, sapping valuable energy and time. During dry periods, the river became polluted as people and livestock had to share the same water source, leading to illness, especially for children. The new sand dam will bring a vital source of safe, clean water for drinking, cooking and farming.
We spoke to some of the young people once they had returned to the UK, to find out how they found the experience. One of the volunteers told us:
“I really enjoyed trip, it was a life changing experience. It made me think about my own life and what I wanted to change. I m so pleased I had the opportunity to go and make new friends and make a difference… I would definitely go again.”
Another volunteer described what it felt like once the dam was completed:
“I remember feeling pretty tired, dirty and hot from it all but really pleased that we had completed the dam in time. I was happy seeing the members of the community celebrating that they had finished the dam, knowing what it would mean for them and their families. I was also really proud of what we had achieved, when I saw photos of the dam after the first rains had filled it!”
By uniting to construct the sand dam, the two groups demonstrated a fine example of ‘Mwethya’, the Kikamba word for ‘joining hands in working together’.
I really enjoyed the trip, it was a life changing experience. It made me think about my own life and what I wanted to change. I'm so pleased I had the opportunity to go and make new friends and make a difference…
A volunteer on the 2013 TRAIN sand dam expedition