“For us, it all started with the death of a small child.”
As Carol Turner retold the story of e3kids, the non-profit organization she founded over a decade ago, this is how she described the catalyst for the organization’s clean water projects. On the outskirts of Mombasa, Kenya, death a common occurrence. So common that even the death of a child often has minimal lasting impact on a community. But for Carol, the death of this little girl–the four year old sister of one of the pupils at Royal Kids School–served as a call to action.
The young girl had died of an easily-preventable waterborne illness. She was one of thousands who die every day around the world from bacterial infections caused by contaminated water, and Carol knew she had to do something. The school she had lovingly supported for years was suffering the effects of drinking dirty water. Not only were the students and staff getting sick, but their families were reeling from the effects of dirty water. A typhoid outbreak in the area meant many people were sick and dying. The school was empty, with students and staff at home due to the outbreak.
Taking The Next Step
Carol and e3kids had already been working in coastal Kenya for over 10 years, partnering with Royal Kids School founders Grace and Ngao Mazira on fundraising for student sponsorships and school building projects. But a clean water project of the scope Carol envisioned would take a new level of coordination. The students at Royal Kids School represent over 300 families that live and work in this small Kenyan town. Carol wants to bring clean water to all of them.
“We had to start small,” she says. “We knew we couldn’t do this all at once.”
But Carol, as she had her entire life, leaned on the advice of her father and grandfather. They both used to remind her that when you see a need, you should pray, then act. In 2009, after her first visit to Kenya, Carol prayed, then acted by sponsoring 16 kids to go to school. Later that year, she acted again by engaging a longtime local partner, Fredricksburg Christian School, to raise funds to dig a water well. She acted by selling handcrafted jewelry and other items, with the proceeds going to the Royal Kids School. For over a decade, Carol and the e3kids supporters had acted.
The Gift of Clean Water
And in late 2017, they took action again, launching their clean water project with 150 Uzima UZ-1 water filters to provide clean water for the school, staff, and community members. This year, they hope to provide an additional 300-350 water filters for the community, along with vital hygiene education. Education, Carol recognizes, is key. “Everything changes when people realize they are drinking poop water,” she says, “We are so thankful for Uzima!”
Like many organizations, e3kids has had to pause some of its efforts during this global pandemic. But that doesn’t mean Carol and her small team are taking it easy. They recently partnered with our friends at SERV International to provide thousands of meals for hungry families in Kenya, as COVID-19 restrictions hit these low-income communities especially hard. They are also helping at home, donating sanitary supplies for women in the U.S. affected by COVID-19, and providing material for face masks to a local group of seamstresses.
After all, Carol practices what she preaches: When you see a need, pray, then act.