Clean water

Tank marks a new beginning for Dorothy’s family

Written by Caleb Mutua

“Having this huge plastic water tank in my homestead is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me and my family. I have waited for this tank for five years and I feel like it's the breakthrough I have been waiting for all my life. Thank you Lord,” said Dorothy Mathuku. 

Dorothy, with her grandson, in front of her brand new water tank.

Dorothy’s story is typical to most women in rural Kenya. She was born in a poor family with at least a dozen siblings. She got married at 17 so that her poor parents could use part of the bride price to educate her younger brothers. “I have struggled all through my life. I got married to a jobless man and all I could do is toil the land with hopes of getting enough food to feed my children. I have 10 children aged 13 to 35. By the time I was getting my third born, droughts were so sever I turned to making baskets to eke a living,” Dorothy explains.

When the rivers dried, she would send her children to borrow drinking water from the few neighbors who had water tanks. In 2011, she met Stellar Kimeu, and together with a few other women they started Itulu Women’s Group. She says, “It has taken me five years to get a water tank because I have never hit my savings target. When my group heard that WEI Work Team from Seattle was visiting our region to build water bases with us, my group gave my family the first priority. I got the surprise of my life when the whole Work Team came knocking with a huge water tank. I will never forget that day, ever.” 

Dorothy’s first born, 35, and second born, 33, are jobless. They returned home that evening frustrated because they did not get any job at any of the nearby farms in the village. “When they saw the tank, they were very excited. They said they’ll wait for the rains and once the tank is filled with water they will start a small kitchen garden. They intend to plant kale and spinach for sale. Seeing them hopeful about the future means the world to me.” 

Her husband, David Mathuku, is 55 years old. He lives and works in Nairobi as a night guard. When Dorothy informed him the good news, he couldn't believe it. “He arrived two weeks after the US sisters delivered the tank. He stood there, looked at the tank and after a long pause, he shook his head in disbelief and raised his hands to the sky thanking God. He regretted that he did not meet the ‘servants of God’ to personally thank them for the gift.”