In Africa, students learn how fistula survivors turn tragedy into hope.
In the summer of 2012, Zachary Dunn climbed onto the roof of a red-brick schoolhouse in Lela, a small village in southwestern Kenya. A crowd of children milled about on the ground, watching him attach a small weather station to the peak.
Schools in Kenya have become crucial partners with TAHMO by installing weather stations and collaborating with sister schools in Europe and the United States. In Corvallis, Adams Elementary School installed a Decagon weather station last September and has just started communicating with the St. Scholastica Primary School north of Nairobi.
In the place where Dylan McDowell grew up, wildlife meant sea lions, sandpipers, salmon and passing pods of spouting whales. Where he’s going this summer, wildlife means something else entirely, something reminiscent of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, exotic and fearsome: wildebeests, jackals, baboons, leopards, warthogs. And rhinos that have been poached nearly to extinction.
The resilience of the women was surprising, as was their appreciation for just being heard. After all, they are at the bottom of the social hierarchy in one of the world’s poorest countries. No one had shown much interest in their stories until an Oregon State University student showed up last winter.
How far would you go to help someone get a glass of clean water? Zachary Dunn knows exactly how far he’d go: 9,000 miles. And that’s just one trip, one way. By summer’s end, Dunn and fellow Oregon State University students had traveled almost 36,000 miles — greater than the Earth’s circumference — to help bring drinkable water to Lela, a tiny farming community in Kenya.