Volunteering Overseas Can Bring Dramatic Change to Important Issues

2 minutes

Receiving a letter from Kenya outlining severe problems in a rural community would overwhelm most people. But for one group in Corinth, New York, north of Albany, the unexpected source inspired them to action.

CBS affiliate WRGB reports that the Church of Nations in Corinth received a letter from an orphanage in Kenya eight years ago that spurred one group to action. The letter detailed some of the problems both the orphanage and the surrounding village faced in accessing clean drinking water.

"They walk two or three miles just to get water which is dirty and fully contaminated," Derek Bevan, one of the members of the Church of Nations, explained to WRGB.

The Water Project cites one United Nation estimate that suggests people in Sub-Saharan Africa spend around 40 billion hours each year just collecting water, and the vast majority of these people are women. The five gallon jerry cans most people carry water in can weigh more than 40 pounds when full.

To help address this problem, the people of Corinth created Hope for Kenya. The local group paid to send people to Kenya to help drill a well and build some infrastructure around it. The group gave the people of the village their first introduction to modern plumbing, including a water tower and eight flushing toilets, Bevan told the news source.

The group also makes a point of charging as little as possible for the water. Now residents can buy water for 4 cents per gallon, compared to the national average of 25 cents per gallon.

In February, another group of Corinth residents left to volunteer overseas, in addition to projects already started in Kenya.

Alongside the well, volunteers also helped build a new school building. The new school includes 10 separate classrooms and can hold more than 300 students.

The school specifically emphasizes water safety, an important initiative for the area. The Water Project notes that 884 million people live without access to clean water, including around 327 million in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. The impact of water on these regions is dramatic, with close to four-fifths of all illnesses in developing countries being related to water-borne diseases.

For one village in Kenya, however, water access should be much less of a problem. The volunteers intend to keep adding to their projects, with plans to build a high school to keep the village's children in school.

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