Monday September 01, 2014

From Kamloops to Kenya, with love

They’re packing their clothes, anti-malarial medications, knowledge and enthusiasm and they’re taking it to Africa to lay the groundwork for an agricultural community’s irrigation system.

Five men — four from Kamloops, one from Edmonton — are flying to Kenya in early February to survey the area around a drought-stricken community of 1,300 farming families in the first step to creating a lasting and functional irrigation system there.

The project is being done through Engineering Ministries International, in co-operation with Crossroads and Glory Outreach Ministries.

Retired civil engineering technologist Patrick Cochrane sits on the board of EMI and put the team together. It includes Kamloops members City horticulturalist Greg Houghton, information technologist Cecil Tarasoff and Phil Koehoorn, an RV repairman. They’re being joined by University of Alberta civil engineering student David Selke.

Cochrane said Thursday he’s been on several missions to Africa for EMI. He put the call out at his church, the Kamloops Alliance Church, to see who might be interested.

“Within a couple hours, three guys from my church responded,” he said.

The trio has a good range of skills and experience to take with them, as well as enthusiasm and a sense of adventure, he said.

“They have a heart to help. Everybody does. Everybody has a desire to make this world a better place. They just might not have discovered it yet,” said Cochrane.

They’re all giving up two weeks of holiday time or contract work to fly to Kenya and travel to a rural community where temperatures will reach 36 C to 42 C under an unrelenting equatorial sun.

“We’ll be walking through rural farm areas, family plots, coming into contact with individual family members,” he said.

They’ll be doing topographic surveying to determine the contours of the land.

Irrigation projects have been tried, and failed, there before. The problem is, the river running through the property has flash floods, causing it to change direction, which, in turn, defeats the irrigation system.

The goal is to get a good lay of the land through surveying, so when the pumps and wells and irrigation is built by another team in May, it will work better.

The ultimate goal is food security for the people there,” said Cochrane.

“They need and they want to grow their own crops. They can’t do that right now because they don’t have the necessary water.”

The Kamloops crew flies out Feb. 5 and returns Feb. 23. Tarasoff has been designated as the group’s blogger. He’ll be posting entries about their African adventure at

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