Robert Frost’s haunting refrain: “But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep,” referenced a long trek on a cold wintry day in New England. The poem ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” is a metaphor for the self-determination that comes from fulfilling one’s self-imposed obligations.
However, those poignant words are universal, as they could just as easily describe an animal advocate’s mission to supply wildlife with water, during a devastating period of drought in Kenya, Africa.
Miles to Go
Traveling 70km daily from his home to the Tsavo West National Park, Patrick Mwalua is on man on a mission. His goal is to deliver some 3,000 gallons of fresh water to elephants and water buffalos who would certainly have died months ago as the result of an ongoing drought. With a hired water browser in tow, he treks through the wilderness daily in search of bone-dry watering holes that he can refill.
“It was in June last year when visiting the Tsavo that I noticed that the water holes were dry and animals were sitting around looking very desperate,” Mwalua told Nairobi News.
"We aren't really receiving rain the way we used to," he says. "From last year, from June, there was no rain completely. So I started giving animals water because I thought, 'If I don't do that, they will die.'"
Mwalua, who is a pea farmer in a local village was inspired to take on this humane effort, when he viewed first-hand the toll climate change had made on his native land. In the last year particularly, the region lacked precious precipitation, leaving animals to perish of thirst in desert-like conditions.
"We aren't really receiving rain the way we used to," he says. "From last year, June, there was no rain completely. So I started giving animals water because I thought, 'If I don't do that, they will die.'"
Teach Your Children
Mwalua is not only a compassionate animal advocate, he believes strongly in passing his vision on to future generations. So between his water-hauling trips, he runs a conservation project called Tsavo Volunteers.
To that end, the 41 year-old visits local schools to talk to children about the indigenous animals and their needs, so they can understand the dire situation that drought brings.
"I was born around here and grew up with wildlife and got a lot of passion," he says. "I decided to bring awareness to this so when they grow up they can protect their wildlife."
Mwalua also believes in the power of online crowd-sourcing, where he can reach out to fund-raise for these types of initiatives. So, he has established a crowd-funding page on Go Fund Me, where he has raised $96,807 [as of this post] since its inception a short five months ago.
With a goal of $150,000, these funds will help him rent water trucks to deliver 12,000 liter of water for at least 4 trips a week. Each tank costs $250USD and Mwalua’s team will distribute to 2 different locations in the region. So, while the this initial goal total will allot for a good number of visits, exceeding this goal will provide the wildlife with a longer term should the drought continue further into the future.
“With the support I have been receiving I am looking to getting my own water browser and also in future sink boreholes and dams that will help with the water situation. But the drought is real and we need to find a solution to help our wildlife,” he noted.
As of this post, 2,230 people have donated, with small donations ranging from $5 to $100. Should you like to contribute, you can start the easy online process here, where all donations are protected by the GoFundMe Guarantee.
In the meantime, Patrick Mwalua will continue his daily sojourns, because he has “promises to keep, and miles to go before he sleeps.”