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It Doesn’t Take a Lot to Change the World! Industry Business Leaders Join Forces to Aid Kenyan Village
Mission to Kenya: Christians in the pallet industry target a small village in Kenya for a three-pronged mission project that will provide a badly needed well for drinking water and expand a school.

By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 11/1/2007

   Probably everyone reading this article has easy access to clean drinking water. That is not the case for nearly 1.1 billion people who are forced to use unsafe water sources. Especially in regions like sub-Saharan Africa, people have to travel long distances to get water that could make them sick. Water is essential for life, and the lack of clean drinking water contributes to a significant amount of disease and problems in depressed areas of the world.

   If you can go over and turn on a faucet to get clean water, you are one of the lucky people in the world. Just like any good entrepreneur understands, where there is a problem, there is an opportunity to find a solution. That’s exactly what a number of people in the pallet and lumber industries are doing.

   At the 2007 National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA) Annual Leadership Conference, a group of Christians with a heart for the poor and a desire to help spread God’s word, committed to coordinating a mission project in northern Kenya.  Working with Food for the Hungry International, John Conway of Conway & Robison visited many locations in northern Kenya. 

   John said, “The village of Karbururi was selected because of its extreme
need and desire to join in our walk with the Lord.”

   There are countless places across the world that share this need for improved water and education facilities; hopefully this project will be the first of many from the pallet and lumber industries as a collective group.

   If you get to know individuals in the pallet and lumber industry, you’ll realize that many of them have sponsored or gone on mission projects in the past. 

   John said, “This is the first opportunity, which I am aware of, for the industry to work together and make a huge difference in the lives of many people. Everyone reading this article can participate in either small or big ways.”

   Located in Northern Kenya, Karbururi has a population of 1,230 people distributed among five villages of about 205 households. The area is headed by an assistant Chief who is assisted by village elders. People live in conical, muddy, thatched roof huts. The area has one primary school “Kar-Bururi Pry School” which is fed by two Pre-Primary schools. It currently has an enrollment of 45 children and has a potential to grow up to 300 students with the proper financial assistance.

   The area is inhabited by Boran pastoralists who migrated from southern Ethiopia and settled there starting in the 1970s.  The livestock reared varies from goats, sheep, cattle and camels.  However, subsistence farming is practiced though recurrent droughts have hindered much progress.

   Alternatively log selling (pole selling) is done in the area.  Plain maize is the staple food in the area which is usually provided by the government and famine relief agencies. Some people are engaged in small scale businesses of selling sugar, tea leaves and other small commodities.

   The climatic condition of the area is hot and dry throughout the year. The area receives approximately 650mm of rainfall per acre. The soil of the area is loamy despite mono cropping practices, which exhaust the fertility of the soil. The vegetation is mainly shrubs and thorny bushes. It has two main seasonal rivers which usually erode top fertile soil and flood during rainy seasons. The rains, however, are not reliable, hence farming rarely succeeds here.

   Given the somewhat unreliable nature of rainfall in the region, water reclamation and well projects could have a profound impact on the quality of the life for the Karbururi people. The educational system is also in dire need of assistance to expand so that future generations can receive an adequate education.

   Food for the Hungry (FH), a widely respected Christian aid organization, is the mission agency that the pallet and lumber leaders have chosen to work with on the Karbururi project. FH has relief workers in the area and has a good working relationship with the elders of the village. FH and the Karbururi leaders have presented the industry with three critical areas which need urgent action.

   1. Water – water is life.  Drilling a well and providing clean drinking water will make a difference in hundreds of lives overnight.

   2. School expansion – The current school is very small with few resources.  Education is a long-term solution to reducing poverty.

   3. Water catchment – During the rainy season, catching rainwater runoff in a tank can provide drinking and cooking water for the school children during the dry months (most of the year).   

   The planning group reviewed all of the options and decided that with God’s help, we can do them all.  With an estimated project cost of $50,000, we can complete all three projects and change the lives of hundreds of people initially and thousands over time.

   You can get involved in a number of ways. First, you could decide to support the effort with a personal donation. Even better, you could lead an effort at your company to get others involved. Your company could decide to make the Karbururi projects a major philanthropic focus where employees as well as the company can participate. It doesn’t take a lot when many people get involved.

   Beyond just sending money, the projects need volunteers to do the work. Your company could sponsor some workers to go and share their expertise. If you have never been on a mission trip to a needy part of the world, such as Kenya, it is an experience you will never forget. Part adventure, part reality check, and a lot of hard work – you will never be the same again.

   The entire effort needs prayerful support as well as word-of-mouth promotion to highlight the needs in Africa and the ways that the industry can work together to make a difference for years to come.

   The mission trip is planned for the first two weeks of June in 2008.  The need for volunteers with construction experience and a strong back are clear, but the projects also needs help from people that can lead education and prayer groups.  Ever teach Sunday school or show an employee how to decipher a training manual? Then you are more than qualified. All volunteers welcome. 

   Volunteers or companies sponsoring a volunteer should expect to support the travel to Kenya and lodging costs prior to and after the mission work. 

   The mission location is in Northern Kenya.  Travel to the location is in small prop driven aircraft operated by MAF, Mission Aviation Fellowship. The terrain is hilly; nearby mountains are in Ethiopia. Climate is hot and dry. While on mission, the team will be sleeping under roof, in a very simple hotel (foam mattress on wooden frame beds, no running water, latrines).

   Funds for the mission are being managed by FH, which has been rated as one of the top Christian relief organizations. All contributions are tax deductible.  Checks should be made out to Food for the Hungry and sent to the following address:

Food for the Hungry

1224 E Washington St.

Phoenix, AZ 85034

c/o Cheryl Johnson

   Cheryl Johnson will track the giving and this will be made available. Any contributor wishing to remain anonymous should make a note with their donation.

   The planning team for the Karbururi projects include a number of industry professionals including: Paula Turlington of SII Dry Kilns, Mike Stigall of T&T Pallets, Ed and Chaille Brindley of Pallet Enterprise, David Staples of Clinch-tite, John Conway of Conway & Robison, Jamie Gilbert of Custom Pallet & Crating, and Bill Biedenbach of Allegheny Recycled Products.

   There are two basic sponsorship categories. One is for companies and the other is for individuals. Of course, the project will take donations of any amount.

Corporate Levels:

1:  $250-499

2:  $500-749

3:  $750-999

4:  $1000 +

Individual Levels:

1:  $25-49

2:  $50-74

3:  $75-99

4:  $100+

Anyone wanting more information about the trip should contact John Conway at 540/898-4193 or jconway@cr-inspect.com. If you would like to receive updates on the projects, you can sign up for the Karbururi Dispatch newsletter by sending your e-mail to jconway@cr-inspect.com.



Learn more about the Karbururi people.

What Karbururi means?

   The name Karbururi is a combination of two different words with the following meanings:

   These trees are evergreen despite the fact that they grow in an arid region where most of the vegetation is usually dehydrated with dried leaves. The Bururi tree produces edible fruits and the tree is preserved for ceremonial purpose.


   The predominant ethnic tribal group in Karbururi are the Boran people who speak Borana language, a dialect shared by Gabra and Borana tribes of both Kenya and Ethiopia.


   The common religion in Karbururi is the Islam faith which is associated with the worship of spirits referred to as “Ayana.” Most people in the community are animists – have a faith that believes in God, but associate that belief with their culture.

   Christianity is a secondary religious faith for Karbururi people. Although it is growing, it is a minority faith. Karbururi people are open to Christianity and missions work related to advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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