Posted by: daradoodle | May 28, 2010

The Ambassador’s Adventure Continues… to Africa!

I am very excited to announce that I will be embarking on yet another international journey next month.

I’ve never been to Africa and up until recently, I didn’t know much about the continent’s history. A spark of interest was ignited by my friend Gerald, who I met while studying at Fudan University in China last year. He will be doing the honors of being my host while I’m in his home country, Uganda.

But this trip is not just about pleasure. The sole purpose is to install safe water filtration systems in homes and school classrooms. I was fortunate enough to help Gerald start his non-profit organization, Helping2Overcome, or H2O, earlier this year. When you hear Gerald’s story, you’ll understand why I felt compelled to lend a helping hand.

As soon as the Helping2Overcome website is fully functional, Gerald’s Story will be posted there. Until then, you can read it here…

Kanungu is located in the southwestern region of Uganda (orange shaded area).

Gerald Mbabazi is from the Kanungu District of Uganda, Africa. Located in the southwestern region of the country, the terrain is made up of hills and mountains. Water only exists in valleys and where run off from mountains collect.

Growing up in Uganda, one learns quickly to always boil water before drinking. Failing to do so will lead to horrible stomachaches followed by agonizing diarrhea. Gerald says the last thing that needed to happen when he was three miles away from school was an urge to use the bathroom.

At nine years old, Gerald’s responsibility was to walk a mile with a 20-liter container on his head to retrieve safe water from a well. This particular water source provided for 3,000 people in the village. He vividly remembers laundry day because he had to make 10 exhausting trips to and from the well.

Once he arrived at the well, there was always a long line of people waiting to fill containers. He says reaching the spout was like a test of survival of the fittest. Sometimes his sisters would stand nearby to cheer him on as he made his way to the front of the line. He always felt as if he was in a race and filling the container with water for his family was the gold medal.

Carrying water in Uganda

When Gerald was 13 years old, his parents told him that a global service organization, Rotary International, was coming to Kanungu to build a gravity water system from water on a mountain over 20 miles away. He couldn’t believe that he would finally have access to filtered, pure water, within arms reach.

Sure enough, a few months later, a fresh water tap was placed right outside of Gerald’s home. No more carrying the container over the mountains and through the hills.

Gerald says that the best gift in the world was waking up each morning with a smile on his face because he knew that he didn’t have to go the dreaded distance down the valley to collect the water. Instead, he’d have water fights outside with his sisters.

Looking back, he realizes that access to safe water not only ensured good health, but also built friendships. Kids were able to spend more time playing together and less time traveling to and from the well. And now, everyone in the village had something to talk about… water!

A small group from the U.S. and Sweden will be heading over on June 16th. We’re raising money up until the last minute, so if you’re feeling generous, send a check on over to:

H2O: Helping To Overcome, Inc.

P.O. Box 487
Modesto, California, U.S.A.

Or make a donation via PayPal (although they do charge us a small fee) using this email address:

H2O's 1st Annual Run For Water on June 12th

Or even better! If you’re going to be in the Modesto, California area on June 12th, sign up to participate in H2O’s 1st Annual Run for Water. The downloadable registration and sponsorship forms can be found on under the “Make A Difference” tab.

After a month in Africa, I’ll head up to France and the UK to visit friends. I can’t believe I will have been to Shanghai and Kampala before Paris or London. No idea how that happened.

And as always, I’ll be writing about the experience and posting photos and videos, right here on Ambassador Doodle!


  1. Great story Dara, don’t blame you for wanting to be a part of clean water for the people! Can’t wait to hear more. Keep in touch!

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