World Thirst

Russ and our son, Samuel, are preparing to leave for Kenya soon and conversation in our home is centered around travel plans, vaccines, and a schedule to keep the family functioning in their absence. As we were talking around the dinner table recently, Rusty said, “Dad, I think you need to solve the problem of World Thirst.” Of course water is about much more than thirst, but there is no denying the desperate need people have for clean water.

The purpose of this trip is to train Until Then’s Kenyan partners to build simple pumps to place in the wells they are digging.

Did you know that there are between one and two million wells with broken pumps in Sub-Saharan Africa? Most of these pumps were manufactured in other countries and replacement parts are unavailable locally, rendering them useless once a small piece has failed or worn out. Furthermore, lack of understanding of how even simple pumps work, and failure to transition ownership of and responsibility for the pump to the local community prevents those served by the pump from attempting to fix it.

I can only imagine the hope that went into those many wells which at one time had fresh water pouring from them. I can also imagine the sorrow the people felt when these pumps failed and they were forced to resume walking long distances to fetch water from a dirty water hole.

Until Then’s previous trip to Kenya, which was partnered with Freewaters, focused on training our Kenyan partners in a simple, low-tech method of well drilling. The goal of this trip will be to check on the new wells, plan for future well sites, and teach our partners how to build simple pumps. These pumps can be built with “off the shelf” hardware supplies at an estimated cost of less than $10.00 per pump. Russ plans to spend time in the hardware stores pricing out the supplies to get a more exact number, but that is his best guess.

By teaching the people that will be served by the well how to build their own pumps, he will simultaneously be instructing them in how to repair the pump when a part fails. They will no longer be dependent upon an outside organization supplying them with a new pump, nor will they be forced to abandon a well when the pump fails. The people will be able to build it themselves.

Our son, Samuel, will be Russ’ right-hand man, teaching and building pumps alongside him. He is studying mechanical engineering and is one of those guys who has the great combination of an inventive mind and productive hands

With the ability to dig wells using low-tech methods and build simple pumps, we are excited that clean water will become more available to the people of Kitale. The adventure continues for our family and for Until Then.


I wrote this post for the Until Then website, but since we’re all friends here, I’m just going to add that while I am thankful for this amazing opportunity, I look toward it with some anxiety.  I need to pray more and worry less.  We planned the timing of this trip very carefully – the university is done, but my two school girls are still in school.  They are both much happier when they have the structure of their school days, which I hope and pray will minimize the challenges for all of us.  My mind is full of thoughts and plans, and my desk is covered with lists, schedules, menus, and more.

But before any of this begins, we have Mimi’s college graduation to celebrate this weekend!  We have family coming to town to celebrate with us, which is going to be great fun.  I’ll fill you all in later!


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Julie
    May 12, 2011

    What a great way to "teach a man to fish". I am excited for the work your men are doing and I pray it would be both productive and helpful to the community. I pray that you have a very good and smooth time with the kids at home. May your stress level be mild while your guys are gone. And congratulations to Mimi!

  2. charity
    May 12, 2011

    ahhh, it is always a strange mix of joy and difficulty, this life….what a remarkable use of one's talents…my oldest is heading into her senior year, and talk centers on what to study in college. i keep telling her she needs to find something like your men, that is worth learning and can truly impact the world by it's application…we will keep you in our prayers during the most recent adventure. all will be well.

  3. Laura
    May 12, 2011

    We are so excited that Samuel gets to go this time. AND we are really excited and blessed to come bring Caleb home after his first year at UI and get to come to Mimi's graduation. See you tomorrow!

  4. Giann
    May 13, 2011

    That is so cool what y'all are doing in Kenya! I can hardly wait to hear and see what they did while they were there! I will definitely be praying!

  5. Kim
    May 14, 2011

    I will be praying for them. We saw wells being dug first hand when we were in Uganda. The people need more and more of them. It is amazing how much we take turning a faucet on for granted here. I pray the Lord will bless their efforts and that unexpected difficulties that tend to happen in Africa will stay away and abundant water will flow. If you are interested, we also have friends in Uganda who have a low tech way of drilling. We could show you pictures of their rig. Blessings to you.

  6. Marissa
    May 14, 2011

    I had never thought about the issues associated with a pump breaking. Wow! I'm excited to hear about his trip (and of course bummed that I won't run into him on a plane to Addis). Praying for you and for Russ and Samual's trip!


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