Lawrence’s Roundabout Well Appeal
Earlier in the year the pump which was bought by Helen Hyde, with money raised from various fund raising activities she had organised over the past few years, was installed in a small rural school called Bridgeman School in KwaZulu-Natal. The school has 149 pupils. The school’s pump had been broken for many years and the school was reliant on buying water from a tanker which made irregular visits to the school and was very expensive.
Our second new pump was installed at Nzame Primary School. Nzame is not typical of the schools we usually install pumps in, as it is a large school with 1,328 children. Unlike most of our schools, it is not in a rural location and is situated on the outskirts of Bloemfontein. The school does have access to a municipal water supply and has taps, but the water supply is cut off several times per week. We had experience of this when we stayed in a hotel in KwaZulu-Natal a few years ago –when we checked in we were warned that the water would go off at 9am each day and would not be turned back on until 4pm. Not good for holiday makers from the UK….an absolute disaster for a primary school with 1,328 children! A regular supply of water does at least mean that the children can be fed, can wash their hands and the water can be used to flush the toilets which obviously don’t work when the water is cutoff.
EveryWell Water Foundation recently funded their fifth pump which was installed at a small rural school. Devastatingly for the school, the borehole collapsed overnight and the equipment had to be removed. We will look for another site for EveryWell’s pump in the new year. It’s always heartbreaking when we have promised a pump to a school and then at the last minute something happens to make the site no longer viable. Fortunately it doesn’t happen very often. We are hugely grateful to EveryWell for their generosity over the past few years. Many of our pumps have been visited this year as part of the maintenance programme which had been put on hold throughout the pandemic.
Unfortunately teachers seem to be less and less willing to allow children to pose for photographs on the roundabouts, so I don’t have very many photos of children playing on the roundabouts to include in this newsletter. One of our early pumps which was installed in a village called Khwamwas visited for maintenance purposes this year and is still going strong after 15 years. Although the original ‘shelf life’ of pumps was estimated to be about 10 years, many of the early pumps are still working well nearly 20 years after installation.
Another of our older pumps at Masakhane Primary School, which was installed in 2011, was visited this year too. At the time of installation the school was reliant on a community tap which was 1.5km away from the school and frequently did not work. The school is still highly appreciative of their ready supply of clean water –the children there probably can’t imagine having to go and fetch water for the school. One of our favourite schools, a small school called Mmanjakgora was recently visited. This pump was funded by a regular donor, Christine Cox, in memory of her brother, Peter. Chris and her mother, Rosemary, made a memorable visit to the school in 2011 when there were 90 children at the school.
Following the recent maintenance visit we received the following rather depressing report: The school is in a sad way. Thieves stole the metal sheeting off one of the classroom roofs and it has never been replaced. Not that they need that classroom. Many parents have moved away from the area, so there are now only 48 children at the school and they are struggling with little funding from The Department of Education. The head said that they still use and need their roundabout pump as they have no other source of water, not even tanker deliveries.
A mug with a picture of The Queen on it which was given to the headteacher by Chris and Rosemary still takes pride of place in her office. At Kokomeng School, which had a pump installed in 2019, the headteacher was very keen to pass on her gratitude for the school’s pump. Prior to its installation, the school had a broken electric pump which the head wanted to replace as it was both costly to run, and very unreliable due to frequent power cuts. Children were having to miss lessons to collect water from the village water pumps which are some distance away. If we think things are depressing in this country at the moment, life seems to be much worse for those living in South Africa. Our contact there told us of current problems with the country’s electricity supply, and little hope of things improving there in the short, or probably longer term:
The electricity supplier in South Africa, Eskom, is unable to maintain its power stations for several reasons: the age of many of the structures, numerous municipalities not paying for their electricity and owing the parastatal millions of Rands, unreliable coal deliveries for the coal-based power stations, and a lack of qualified engineers to keep the power stations (which are constantly breaking down) working. This has resulted in load shedding (blackouts) which have got worse over the years and currently the electricity can be cut off three or even four times a day for two hours at a time. This is having a huge negative impact on the people of South Africa, on the economy and especially on the schools.
Those schools that have electric pumps are now having their electricity cut off for hours if not days at a time. They are also unable to pay for the electricity as The Department of Education is not in a position to fund the payments. This means that more and more schools are reverting to collecting water from rivers and dams. Those schools that do have a roundabout pump tell us that they do not want a municipal water supply as they cannot afford to pay for it, and water supplies are unreliable. Having access to a roundabout pumpis a life saver.
More and more schools are struggling to feed the children and those that have unreliable water often haveto let the children go home without a meal. Schools witha roundabout pump have water to cook with, and many of them are starting vegetable gardens to give the children a healthy meal. Schools with roundabout pumps in rural areas of South Africa definitely report the benefits to the health of the learners and far fewer cases of diarrhoea and water borne diseases.
Schools often ask who “Lawrence” is, and are amazed that a little boy from the United Kingdom has, through his death, provided them with life-giving water. They cannot believe, and are touched by, the generosity and concern of people living so far away.
As usual I must thank Peek Design and Chris Dusgate who look after our website and accounts respectively, free of charge.
Thanks, too, to our trustees. The charity is still run on a voluntary basis which means that every penny donated goes straight to South Africa.
To everyone who has supported us both this year and in the past seventeen years –thank you. With your help, the life of one child has been remembered by changing the lives of many.