Kenyan characters

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by Cynthia Vukets on December 7, 2009

 

Lex demonstrates the method he uses to find underground streams

Lex demonstrates the method he uses to find underground streams

Name: Lex Rutherford

Age: 86

Occupation: retired but working harder than most people one quarter his age.

 

I have been wanting to meet Lex since I arrived in Kenya. I saw a story in the Daily Nation my first week here about how this 86-year-old Canadian was spending his retirement digging surface wells on Kenyan farms.
We finally connected this week and he took me out to a farm in the Rift Valley. Since last year, 50 farmers have dug wells and are now using the water for drinking, cleaning, laundry, livestock and irrigation. That last thing is a big deal as most agriculture is still rainfed in Kenya and thus not so successful during a three-year drought.
Lex has been outside Garissa in Northern Kenya – a place most Kenyans find too dangerous to visit. He spent eight months living in a Maasai hut. He’s currently in debt after buying a used station wagon. Everything his organization – Shallow Wells International Management– does is thanks to his retirement savings.
He dropped me off around 6 pm after leaving Nairobi at 6:30 in the morning. I was tired. But he was busy planning his trip for the next day.