The Wema Childrens Center

The Wema Children’s Centre and Highway Academy is an orphanage and school located in Bukembe Village, Bungoma, Kenya.  It is home to over 200 orphans and over 300 local school children.  The greater Bukembe Village registers about 5,000 people.  In 2016, EWB-Chicagoland Professional Chapter established a program through the Engineering Service Corps to address a dire water quality issue which was giving the children typhoid.  The drought in Kenya has forced them to continue using the water thus waterborne illness became a recurring public health issue.  CPC designed and implemented a pressurized water filtration unit and a chlorinator to address the problem in March 2017.  Following up in September 2017, the CPC team was excited to hear that Teresa Wati and Stephen Juma, Wema’s directors, have reported that since commissioning, they have seen a huge improvement in the public health of the area.  With this success came requests for connections to the clean water and the CPC team identified many other areas of need.  This has spurred the team to submit an International Community Partnership application to EWB-USA to address other needs such as obtaining reliable energy to power the water pumps, increase in water storage capacity, water system expansion consulting, development consulting, and other needs.

Looking Forward:

Wema has just begun the process of becoming an International Community Partnership (ICP) program.  All application materials have been accepted and confirmed complete as of December 12, 2017.  In the interim, the current team is making progress on ongoing work for rainwater harvesting systems, water supply planning, and alternative energy planning.  Until the ICP application is approved, meetings will be small internal progress and planning discussions with the current team.  Travel is TBD but is intended to be in 2018 in the August-September timeframe.  The goal is to continue a combined assessment-implementation type of trip in order to keep travel costs down while optimizing progress.

Want to Volunteer?

  • Solar Engery Lead and Volunteers: Wema will be looking for someone to take the lead role on the solar energy design team who can work with the current team and mentor to interpret the assessment items and develop a design to be implemented before the next trip
  • Water Supply Volunteers: Wema will need 2-3 people to help the program lead on water supply planning (hydraulic modeling, decision-making with Wema, assessment of materials, etc.) and to help the team with water storage capacity improvements
  • Designers: Wema will need people who can produce plan drawings in CAD, 3D CAD, Revitt, and/or Google Sketchup
  • Fundraising and Marketing: Wema will need leads for fundraising and marketing (may have to work with Wema Children, Inc. in the US)
  • Construction Managers: Wema will need someone who can work with local unskilled laborers to install rainwater harvesting systems and water pipe extensions.

For more information on volunteering opportunities, contact Alan Phelps.

Filling Water

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