Teens work to make water safe

Pam Griffin
Brock and Benjamin Baumgardner experiment with water harvesting at their home in Alabama. The boys have worked with Mission Love Seeds for many years, in the Philippines and in Kenya.

Clean water is the primary issue in Bondo, Kenya, and is Mission Love Seeds’ latest outreach project.

“The water situation is serious, and the most vulnerable are the elderly and the children,” said Barbi Carroll, co-founder of Destin-based MLS. “Families survive on dirty, unprotected water from the local dam and must walk hours to collect their daily water supply. Many illnesses come from the water, and the bacteria that cause cholera are all present in that unclean water.”

Children and their families must share contaminated water with animals due to scarce water points in Bondo.

In the warm sunshine of mid-morning, a mother gives her mud-caked boys a bath in the lake at Victoria Dam, while a few minutes later a woman and child come to fill large plastic jugs for drinking a few feet away. Later, a dog runs into the lake for a drink and a swim. Near dusk, cattle and donkeys gather to drink.

To make it worse, the lake is highly contaminated because most of the runoff drains there. The dam is the main water source for about 1,800 people, and in periods of drought, people will walk 10 miles or more to fill up barrels of water and then return home.

“It never goes dry,” said Victor, mission coordinator for Mission Love Seeds in Bondo. “It is the most reliable place to get water around here. But the water is not clean.”

MLS plans to eventually drill water wells, but right now the plan is to harvest and treat the water.

Two 16 year olds, brothers Brock and Benjamin Baumgardner of Alabama and Destin, spent more than two weeks in Kenya this summer with their father, Earl Baumgardner, helping Mission Love Seeds. They know first hand the conditions that children live in on a daily basis.

The boys are now doing experiments in water harvesting at their home in Alabama to help MLS provide clean water for the children in Bondo. Brock and Benjamin are trying to make a difference for the children. Water harvesting is the capture of rain where it falls or the run off and taking measures to keep that water clean.

Mosquitoes are another real problem in Bondo, and Mission Love Seeds has plans to provide mosquito nets for each child. Each net costs only $5, a small amount to save a child's life.

If you would like to help with clean water and/or mosquito netting, visit missionloveseeds.org, call 850-650-5583 or send check to Mission Love Seeds Inc., 55 Country Club Drive East, Destin, FL 32541.