How One Water Project Team Member Changed a Life Forever

Thursday, April 18th, 2024

At The Water Project, we are forever singing the praises of our teams on the ground. They’re the ones who provide water and make sure it stays flowing for hundreds of thousands of people. To do this, they brave washed-out roads, spotty network connectivity, power outages, harsh weather, and more — because they know that, without water, the community members we all strive to help would suffer. 

Our local teams’ work at their everyday jobs deserves recognition. But when one of our team members goes above and beyond? That deserves even more — which is why we’re bringing you this incredible story today. 

In 2016, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Betty Majani supervised the construction of a protected spring in Evihule Community. 

While working in the community over the course of a week, she noticed a boy. He lingered at the spring for a whole week during the construction process. He did not wear a school uniform, though schools were in session. Betty asked him questions, and she noticed he was bright and curious — but he wasn’t in school.

Being a mother herself, Betty was heartbroken to see such a smart young boy wasting his potential and falling behind his peers. So she called “Mum Janet,” the wife of Humphrey Buradi, The Water Project’s Regional Director of Western Kenya. Janet is not only the head of The Water Project’s staff welfare committee, but she also works in Monitoring and Evaluation for The Water Project. She and Humphrey are known throughout our Western Kenya teams as kind, giving people — who have helped children in need get their education in the past.

Betty and Janet shared the story of that boy with the rest of the staff, and together, they decided to sponsor his secondary education, covering his school fees. 

Today, that boy — Donnic — is a smart young man pursuing his undergraduate education. We asked him to speak about that time in his life and what brought him to where he is today.

“I’m Donnic Wekesa, a beneficiary of The Water Project Western Kenya,” said Donnic. 


“I would like to give thanks to The Water Project Western Kenya for the great support towards my education. May God bless them so much. I would like to give thanks to Mrs. Betty Majani for reaching out to me and introducing me to The Water Project Western Kenya family. I really appreciate Mum Janet Kayi and Mr. Humphrey Buradi for keeping in touch with me and inquiring about my well-being and progress from the whole team.” 

Donnic explained the circumstances that led him to be at the spring that day instead of in school. He said his family never prioritized education, and that the highest grade anyone in his family ever completed was grade eight.

“Personally, in my early ages, I never had [a] passion [for] learning, and I was going to school because my brothers were going, too,” Donnic said. 

“I was performing very poorly in my primary education, and I grew up knowing that I was a failure. I never had anybody to give me hope because most of the family members were still in school and hoping for transformation, and so everybody was concentrating on his own life. I…had no worries because nobody would bother to know what I scored in my examinations. 

“By then, my father was very sick to [the] point of rejecting us as his own children. So, we would live in the house as strangers. [This] gave our stepmom authority over the whole home, and she made our home very hostile to us since my own mum had left…in 2005. We lived by grace at that point because we never knew where our mother had fled. 

“At [this] point, there was no hope at all for schooling again. We stayed at home doing small jobs to sustain ourselves…and begging for food at our own home. 

“After some time, my father started getting better and he tried in a way to restore the peace of the family without success. So, every morning, we would wake up in a house looking like a battle ring, and we would witness all kinds of painful words.”

“From here, I knew my family was struggling to keep me at school. We would be sent home for school fees, and I used to stay at home for months before reporting back [to] school without the money. 

“[Then], I met with Betty Majani and Pastor Christopher Majani. They became my friends and really had [a] passion [for] inquiring about my school. After some time, [Betty] knew that I was really going through a lot, and that is why I was not going to school. 

“Meeting Betty, who talked to me so well, [and] motivated me, I developed a positive attitude to work hard in school. I started performing better in grade seven, and my teachers were really happy, and they started motivating me to put in more effort. I really worked hard, and my grades improved tremendously, although the issue of school fees was a bigger challenge. I never lost hope, and I managed to sit for my grade eight examinations, which I really passed well, but due to school fees, I was forced to repeat grade eight three times, hoping to find someone to help me pay my secondary school fees.” 

This is when Betty stepped in, gathering her team of coworkers to help raise the money for Donnic’s secondary school fees. 

Since Donnic did so well in secondary school, the staff welfare committee decided to keep sponsoring him through a university education as well — which catches us up to the present day. 

“I give thanks to the great team from The Water Project Western Kenya for standing and sacrificing their finances to ensure that I was enrolled in school,” Donnic said. 

Donnic and Betty.

“I have been mentored by this great team as far as my academics and my dream [are] concerned. I am aspiring to be a professional teacher, and I am working hard to make this team happy because they [took] me [in] as their own child. I thank God that I scored a grade of honor, which allowed me to join Kaimosi Friends University to pursue a degree in education, which is my dream to be a secondary school teacher. I am [in the] second year of my studies, taking my bachelor’s degree in Education, [with] a combination of Kiswahili and geography. The Water Project Team in Western Kenya is catering for all my needs at school. 

“If it were not for The Water Project Western Kenya, I couldn’t be telling a success story, because I would be somewhere else struggling hand-to-mouth. I thank the Water Project Western Kenya for supporting me. I lack words to express the joy inside me. Thank you for empowering the communities and institutions, too, by ensuring that they access clean and safe water.” 

To watch Betty and Donnic recount this story, watch the YouTube video below.

Here at The Water Project U.S., we’re so thankful for Betty’s initiative in inquiring further about a situation she knew was not right. But more than that, we’re proud of our teams in Western Kenya, who pooled their resources to sponsor a boy’s education without hope of recognition, just because they knew he needed help. 

As we reflect on Donnic’s journey from a boy at a spring to a university student with dreams of becoming a teacher, we’re reminded of the profound impact that one compassionate action can have on an individual’s life. Donnic’s story is just one example of how our work at The Water Project not only provides essential resources like water but also fosters opportunities and hope for the future.

Whether it’s through building water sources or empowering communities, your support makes stories like Donnic’s possible. You can help ensure that more children and communities can access the clean water they desperately need — and the opportunities they could only dream about before.

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Jamie Heminway

Jamie is a storyteller by nature. In joining the Water Project, she’s finally found a workplace where that pesky bleeding heart of hers can be put to use (and, less importantly, that BA in English Language & Literature from New England College).