The hard work and dedication of a Red Deer man and other central Albertans in helping to build schools and other much-needed facilities in Kenya, has resulted in a new store being named after Red Deer.
Located near Lodwar in northwest Kenya, The Red Deer Shop & Grocery has its name inspired from the efforts of Rick Wiebe and other central Albertans through Lacombe-based ‘A Better World’, an organization established in 1990 that invests in education, health, water, agriculture and income generation in developing nations around the globe.
Wiebe says he became involved with A Better World in 2011 and acts as a project manager for the charitable organization.
“I manage a number of projects here in Kenya,” states Wiebe. “Anything from drilling wells to leadership training, that’s my specialty, to building schools and agriculture stuff. It makes me feel really good, it makes me feel like I’m doing something really concrete where you can actually see people being helped.”
Wiebe feels the projects they do are an important ‘lift-up’ that all these communities need in order to get ahead.
“You have to see it to believe it,” he explains. “You’ve got these kids who almost are living on the street and have nothing, Then they’re given the opportunity to learn to get an education and they are so appreciative because there are so many that just don’t have that opportunity.”
Wiebe says A Better World drilled two water wells in Lodwar nine years ago, in addition to building a school in the community that gets rain just twice a year in its hot, dry climate.
“One of the girls that was involved in the start-up of the school decided she wanted to open up a small little grocery shop,” says Wiebe. “They sell soda, they sell flour, sugar, you know basics in life and she named it after Red Deer because of our involvement in the school all these years!”
Wiebe, who arrived in Kenya November 1 and plans to return to Red Deer November 19, hopes to make another impact during his stay, like installing a Slurpee machine at the Red Deer Shop & Grocery.
“I don’t know if you’ve been to Kenya but every store is the same, they all sell the same products, they sell the same thing,” states Wiebe. “So I described what it was and I said what do you guys think? Her partner says ‘Oh my-gosh, that would be fantastic, people would just love it!’ So we are looking right now at purchasing a couple of Slurpee machines and putting them in her shop!”
Wiebe figures they will be the first Slurpee machines in northern Kenya once they’re installed.
“We kind of scoped that out today to get a supplier for the syrup and the machines,” adds Wiebe. “The other thing that we’re doing is we’re currently looking at the Segera Mission - a clinic for a health centre. Right now we have a really small one that’s not quite adequate for the amount of people that are coming.”
He says 289 babies are delivered at the current health care centre in Segera each year.
“We’re looking at building an actual facility that has a maternity ward and an eight-bed facility so people can stay overnight and be taken care of and a facility where we can distribute medication,” he explains. “So we’re just putting the numbers together on that over the next couple of days and a plan of what that looks like physically and financially, so that’s what we’re working on right now.”
Wiebe says excursions like these truly remind him how fortunate we are in Canada.
“Thank the good Lord that when I get home, I can turn on the tap and have clean water,” states Wiebe. “I can just drink the water and not worry about it and that’s something that we take for granted and it’s something that most of the world doesn’t have.”
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