In May of this year I took trip with Betsy King and Debbie Quesada of Golf Fore Africa to the World Vision WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, followed by a trip to the field with donors in Rwanda and Zambia. I came away with several key learnings:

The magnitude and depth of the need among villages without accessible clean water or sanitation is great.

  • We visited Edith who had nothing but the love for the four children she cared for.  She is HIV positive, earned a few kwachas from “casual” work and a meager stipend for her son, Michael, who tended the cattle of a “richer” man in the community.  Her children were malnourished, her home unhygienic and the future, bleak without clean water.

The transformational impact of our investments (money, time and energy) on the children, women and families in rural Africa is greater.

  • We visited Rachel, a nurse at a health clinic where GFA funded a hand-pump two years ago, and then upgraded it this year to a mechanized water system with taps inside the clinic – including a shower for moms after giving birth.  This clinic had rooms and beds for pre- and post-natal care. The cleanliness of the clinic had been dramatically improved from our visit 18 months ago.

The empowerment of women can and does benefit a society. (In Rwanda they require that women comprise at least 30% of the parliament (actually 64% of the parliament is women making them #1 in the world).  Women are now held in higher esteem and are more likely to work outside the home.)

  • We visited a Women’s Small Fish Cooperative. They buy sardines from the fishermen on Lake Kivu and resell the fish in the marketplace. They presented their story and successes with us:
    • 92 women in the coop, impacting more than 500 family members

    • They have improved the health of their children with the highly nutritious fish and the revenue they have brought to their families

    • They have built the coop savings to $1,000

    • They outreach into their community by supporting disadvantaged women

    • They shared their dreams and business plan to increase their supply and improve profitability via vertical-integration, so they can reach new markets

    • WV provided guidance as they set up their coop and the means to preserve the shelf-life of the fish (drying racks and refrigeration at the marketplace)

    • Their next stage is to buy a motor boat so they can go out into the lake and buy directly from the fishermen (eliminating the middleman)

    • Then they plan to buy a grinder to process the fish into powder or paste to further extend the shelf-life and utility of the fish

I came away with a recommitment, dedication and appreciation for all that Golf Fore Africa and its and donors do to impact the lives of the extreme poor.  For those who have never visited Zambia, it’s a time of personal growth and journey. If you’re interested in traveling with Golf Fore Africa and funding a water project please contact their office.