From Georgia to Kenya
Teach Them Plumbing… and They Have Skills, Water (and Possibly a Business) for a Lifetime
By Karen Hill, Hill Mechanical
“They need a plumber.” It was a call to serve that came through our Sunbelt Marketing contact, who works extensively with Teleios Ministry to whose goal is to develop indigenous leaders and ministries. The objective? For my husband – Daniel Hill, president and owner of Hill Mechanical in Georgia – to teach basic plumbing skills to a few men in Nyeri County, just northeast of Nairobi in Kenya, Africa.
Our trip to the area last January, however, opened the floodgates to identifying a crucial need, repairing damaged infrastructure, teaching valuable skills, and hopefully inspiring those we met to start a much-needed business of their own.
A Community in Need
A continual water source is the Achilles heel of the area of Nyeri County. The prominent source for this area is derived from the Aberdare Mountain range. The river water from the mountains is captured in a manmade reservoir and then fed to the county over several miles of staged plastic pipe (from 10” water main graduating to 2” water service lines). During our visit, this water source was not producing, as it should, restricting water availability to the community to only one day per week.
In addition, while the simple basics of bringing water into buildings that are on par with the Western world, the exit of the wastewater remains archaic. There is no venting to alleviate airflow. Therefore, the probability of sewer gas is coming into the structure(s). The drainage waste system is being installed at triple the cost due to the lack of use of wye fittings and clean outs.
Basic Repairs, Basic Skills
Along with the district’s water management team and Floyd Parker of Teleios Ministry, Daniel hiked the treacherous jungle terrain of the mountain range to inspect the main water supply line. In eight separate areas, the water main was damaged, thereby causing lack of water supply to the villages below. A separate team returned the following week and physically carried the repair materials up the steep climb of the mountain range to make the repairs to restore the water flow. The improved water flow now gives the community a water source for two days a week, instead of the one day they previously had.
In addition, Daniel – simply equipped with a white board and marker – held a “Plumbing 101” class to teach proper venting and drainage in a combination system. Therefore, future installations of a properly installed waste vent systems will enable the next couple of homes built in Nyeri County to breathe properly in hopes of protecting the homeowners from breathing dangerous air.
He also provided hands-on training on how to pull and reset a rear flush water closet. Hand tools (channel locks, screw drivers, razor knives) were brought by Daniel and were left for the three students in his class as a starter kit for their toolbox.
During our visit, we met with Mutahi Kahiga, the Governor of Nyeri, as well as with the area’s Ministers of Water, Trade, Agriculture and Land. Of course, they were grateful to have a Western plumber volunteer his time to teach a valuable trade to the citizens of Nyeri County. The Minister of Trade was enthusiastic of Daniel’s initial plumbing class and is eager for our return to which she will provide the classroom, materials and students to attend. Daniel is currently in the process of developing and designing this next class, which he hopes will be conducted within the next 12 months. The Minister of Water has volunteered to provide 80 sticks of steel pipe to come down through the jungle to help limited the amount of water line breaks that are occurring, which the existing pipes are plastic. The current pipe is vulnerable to the conditions of the jungle, e.g., animals.
A Global Impact
Part of PHCC’s mission is to promote the health, safety, and comfort of society and to protect the environment. In recognizing this mission of PHCC, as well as Daniel’s obligation to partner with the PHCC, he has embraced this opportunity to potentially change the course of future plumbing in Kenya, beginning in Nyeri County. Having extensive international life experiences, Daniel’s recognizes that the most valuable resource for depressed economies and people groups is clean, clear water. To be able to provide skill-set knowledge to a depressed people group that they have never had is a privilege and the cumulative fruition of Daniel’s 30-year career in plumbing.
Daniel Hill and the area's water management team hike a steep 5 kilometers up the Aberdare Mountains to the water source for Nyeri County (Nyeri, Kenya).
Daniel Hill and representatives from the water management team inspect the aquafir, where the water is collected and then transferred down the mountain to the community via a 10" water main.
Daniel Hill inspects the water intake to the village.
With a whiteboard and marker, Daniel Hill holds his first "Plumbing 101" class to teach proper venting and draining, teaching the purpose of venting and proper water pipe and waste pipe installation.
Daniel Hill teaches Alex Ngatia Mwangi and John Mbuthia how to pull and reset a rear flush water closet.
During their trip to Kenya, Daniel and Karen Hill meet with government officials, including the Governor of Nyeri and the Ministers of Water, Trade, Agriculture and Land.