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Water crisis affecting Sunrise Sewing School

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Alayna Aiken, a teacher at Cape High, said the sewing school she founded in Kenya is experiencing a water crisis and needs to urgently raise $40,000 to drill a well.

Power generation company KenGen was supplying water to the Sunrise Sewing School, but a change in management led the utility giant to cut off all water to anyone outside its compound, said Aiken.

“We had no warning and no time to prepare,” Aiken said. “We are building a public bath for our students.”

Aiken, a family and consumer science teacher, started the school several years ago after visiting the area on a mission trip and meeting members of the impoverished Pokot tribe. Sewing has empowered local women by giving them the opportunity to learn a trade, she said, and the school opened its first boarding class this summer.

“So we have quite a few people who depend on water,” Aiken said. “We have a river a short distance behind our school, but it’s not safe for our girls to go there with the increase in sexual assault. No one pursues justice in this matter, or the police are bribed, and the village elders force the man to pay a cow to the girl’s family only if she expresses what happened.

In addition to water security and safety for students, the well would allow students to garden and gain food security, she said.

“The cost of the well is high because we have to transport large equipment over long distances and drill through heavy rock to reach the aquifer,” Aiken said. “There is also no water supply in the surrounding villages, so we hope to be a source for them.”

The other problem with the river, Aiken said, is that it contains gold and investors regularly come to destroy it in search of silver.

“So our current source is about to get heavily polluted,” she said.

Aiken’s friend Alyssa Titus organized a Go Fund Me fundraiser to benefit the Kenya Gather Foundation, an organization Aiken set up to run the Sunrise Sewing School. Donate to bit.ly/3ySUwyy.

To learn more about Sunrise Sewing School and the Kenya Gather Foundation, visit kenyagather.org.