AS part of Just a Drop’s ‘20 Seconds Lifesaver Appeal‘, we are running a series of articles on our volunteer project engineers. Without their commitment and expertise, Just a Drop would not be able to carry out the life-saving work that it does. Our second article is about Peter Marsh:
From Meccano sets to Makuni Wells
Like many young boys, Peter Marsh played with wooden bricks and learned about arches and cantilevers, not knowing their significance. A few years later he graduated to Meccano,”…all those nuts, bolts, pulleys, axels – just fabulous!” Then at the age of 12, he was into concrete mixes, making wedge shaped paving slabs to surround the garden pond. Thus was born his passion for construction, building and making things, interests that led him to become a civil engineer – and for 34 years a Royal Engineer (enabling him to combine his other passions for adventure, travel and sport).
Now in his retirement, Peter continues to put his skills and enthusiasm to good use. He recently joined international water aid charity, Just a Drop as a volunteer project engineer and will be overseeing the charity’s work in Zambia.
The charity provides clean water and sanitation facilities to some of the poorest communities around the world through the construction of hand-dug and borehole wells, pipelines, dams and latrines and establishes local health and sanitation programmes. It operates with a handful of staff and an army of volunteers, many of whom – like Peter – are retired engineers with experience of working in austere environments.
Peter says, “I had been thinking of taking on charitable work for some time and I love Africa, having worked there and visited many times. Having the opportunity to contribute to improving the lives of disadvantaged communities in Zambia is very satisfying”.
His contribution will certainly be making a difference in Zambia, a country where 67% population do not have access to safe drinking water and over 7 million people don’t have adequate sanitation facilities.
Last month, Peter made his first trip to Zambia to visit and see first-hand the families and communities who have been supported by some of Just a Drop’s clean water and sanitation projects – and to visit those who still desperately need it.
One of the villagers he met was Susan Mukosa, a member of her community’s newly established Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committee. Susan understood only too well the challenges of living without access to safe water. Before Just a Drop provided her village with a borehole, her five children suffered frequent bouts of diarrhoea as a result of drinking contaminated water from unprotected sources. (In fact more children in Africa under five years old die from water-related illness such as diarrhoea than they do from malaria, measles and HIV/AIDS combined).
Peter says, “Just a Drop is appealing because as a small charity there is a close knit relationship between those involved. We know that community development initiatives involving local people lead to improved long-term project management, transfer of skills to the local community and positive changes in local development. To that end, we ensure that we work at a grassroots level to establish village led management structures including Water and Sanitation Committees. Susan is certainly testament to that”.
Just a Drop is determined to continue to make a difference. And with your help it can. Please consider supporting our appeal with a donation of £5 – enough to provide a child with a clean supply of water for life.