The village of Enariboo, Kenya, is home to a Maasai community – traditionally nomadic hunter-gatherers who have settled down as agriculture became a staple form of income.
With a long history of surviving in the midst of almost no material belongings, facing harsh environments and unique cultural practices like killing or living with wild lions, the Maasai are known for being warriors – strong, beautiful and loyal.
Living in a Dry Land
But the land they live on doesn’t match the people who live there. Enariboo lies 45 minutes from the nearest town by car. Driving the road to Enariboo leaves one bruised and worn out, fighting to keep their last meal firmly in their stomach. The car comes to a stop and the door opens to a dust cloud that chokes out the fresh Kenyan air.
There’s no point in waiting for the dust to settle though, as every square inch of the community is covered in dust. The cars, the buildings, the animals – even the people are constantly coated in a thin layer of dirt. It soaks into your pores and clothes, and leaves you with an irritating wheeze after a few minutes of breathing.
The idea of a clean glass of cold water seems about the furthest thing from possible in this little village.
“One of the challenges that I remember and I still see, is water. Not even just clean and safe drinking water, but generally – water. It has been a challenge my entire life – I used to not even get a single drop to wash my face… so most of the time I used the dew that collects on the grass to just wipe my eyes and run to school.”
James Nampushi, a Maasai warrior from Enariboo, Kenya
Meet James Nampushi, a leader in Enariboo who patiently sought change for years after growing up in the community. When you meet James, you don’t automatically picture him in his traditional Maasai warrior dress, herding cattle.
With his easy smile and deep laugh, he captivates you with a sincerity in his desire to really know you. After greeting you with a hug that gives you a glimpse into the strength of his people, he holds you by the shoulders, looks you in the face, and with a beaming smile asks you how life is going. Even the simplest response can bring a resounding laugh as he responds, “Life is good! Let us rejoice!”
Listening to his stories of attending Clemson University for his Ph.D. and his passion for helping his people through education, it quickly becomes evident that this Kenyan Maasai warrior is one of the most dedicated, self-sacrificing, and intelligent people you’ve ever met.
Then he tells you his story.
Waiting for Safe Water
James grew up in Enariboo, Kenya, this community of roughly 4,000 people and remembers the two-hour walk to collect water for his family and to feed the animals. Every day, often multiple times a day, he and his siblings would trek the dust-choked road to the small stream – hopefully returning home early enough to attend school.
Others in the community would simply dig out a hole in the ground to collect the rain water. These stagnant sources of water were used by both the people and the animals.
Yet, when the annual dry season came, even these sources weren’t enough. The stream and rain holes would dry up, leaving James and his neighbors with no choice but to make the 4-mile hike over the 1,000-foot ridge to the dam in the neighboring community of Kipise.
Taking upwards of 10 hours, this chore quickly turned into an all-day burden – simply to be able to survive.
James, witnessing this massive problem, decided that one day things would be different. Through his own schooling, he realized the best way to solve his community’s issues was through education. Through a series of events, the Lord opened doors for James to study for a Ph.D. at Clemson University. James accepted the position with great anticipation, for he dreamed to one day return to Kenya and help his tribe gain access to basic necessities like water.
While attending Clemson University in South Carolina, he was connected with Water Mission through a local church he attended. After participating in Water Mission’s yearly Walk for Water events in Charleston, he sat down with founders George and Molly Greene to discuss what could be done for his community back home.
Sitting around the table, discussing dreams for the future and hopes for what would come, no one knew that this was the beginning of a six-year-long journey to bring safe water to Enariboo. No one knew the patience it would require, the faith in God to provide the solution, and the relentless hope of thousands of people waiting for the gift of safe water to become a reality.
Through it all, James never gave up. He stood and fought for the future of his people. He worked tirelessly, for years, in pursuit of the vision the Lord had given him. And he hoped and prayed that one day, the solution he was looking for would come.
This December, we’re telling the story of James and his community of Enariboo, Kenya. Be a solution for the countless communities awaiting the gift of safe water. LEARN MORE