This unusual story took place in one of Kenya’s national parks during a severe drought. Patrick Mwalua, a 41-year-old pea farmer, volunteered to deliver water daily to fill up dried waterholes and save animals dying of thirst.
Three women from other continents came to the aid of the philanthropist of the deserts and organized fundraising to help Patrick continue his activities on an on-going basis.
Every day his truck rumbles through the desert, delivering 11,000 liters of water to the arid areas of the Tsavo West National Park. Mwalua's water truck brings the elephants, buffalo, antelope and zebras running to waterholes. “There’s absolutely no water, so the lives of animals depend entirely on the person. If we do not help them, they will die,” says Patrick. Patrick Mwalua has a small pea farm in a local village.
He came to the idea of delivering water to wild animals, after observing climate changes. According to him, especially last year, the area where he saw a precious small amount of rainfall decreased noticeably, resulting in animals dying of thirst in these cracked lands. He said: “We aren't really receiving rain the way we used to. 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.”
The 41-year-old-farmer visits local schools and conducts talks with children about wildlife and that it should be treated with respect as their heritage. “I was born around here and grew up with wildlife and got a lot of passion about wildlife,” he says. “I decided to bring awareness to this so when they grow up they can protect their wildlife.” Last year, Mwalua started renting a truck and driving water to several locations in Tsavo West.
“The truck is heavy and doesn’t go very fast,” he says. “We have to be very patient and go deliver water.” But his lifeline has also extended from that hose in Tsavo West all the way to the United States — where three women, who have never met him or each other, help him keep the taps flowing.
“I visited Kenya December of 2015, though I didn’t know Patrick at the time or meet him,” says Angie Brown, who lives in Connecticut. But the country, and especially the plight of its animals, haunted her.
When she heard about the most recent drought, Brown connected on Facebook with Cher Callaway and Tami Calliope. The trio — Callaway lives in Utah and Calliope in Vermont — decided to help. Callaway, who has worked with Mwalua on several projects — including fundraisers for beehives and night patrols to gently scare elephants away from villages — says Kenya’s water delivery man is keeping animals alive during the current drought.
“His commitment to the wildlife and his heritage is unmeasurable,” she said. “Even risking his own life in the middle of the night to deliver water to a dry water hole.” Callaway set up a GoFundMe page that has so far collected more than $18,000 from people around the world — all of it going toward Mwalua’s water delivery service. They’re hoping to soon buy him his own truck. But one way or another, Mwalua will keep rumbling down those dusty roads. Many miles to go. And many more thirsty mouths.