Edith del Junco first traveled with Grand Circle in 1998 at the age of 80 and went on to visit Zimbabwe on the Ultimate Africa tour 2 years later. Edith fell in love with Africa, and Zimbabwe in particular, and wished to help the people of Zimbabwe.

When Edith died and left a significant estate to be donated to a charity, the executor of her estate was apprehensive about making the donation to the charity that Edith had proposed. After several conversations about how Grand Circle Foundation manages its projects, and the oversight we provide, a donation was made to Grand Circle Foundation instead, earmarked for our WASH (Water and Sanitation, Hygiene) projects in Zimbabwe.

Several communities and schools outside Victoria Falls and Tsholotsho recently had boreholes (wells) drilled, solar pumps and water storage tanks installed, thanks to Edith’s bequest. The underground streams and lakes are up to 60 to 70 meters below the surface so drilling these boreholes is highly technical, added to which the Kalahari sand found in the area means these holes have to be lined with special casing to prevent the hole caving in.  However, once drilled and installed the yield for a borehole is between 1500 to 2000 liters per hour, thus providing a lifeline to these rural communities residing in this arid, drought-stricken area.

Both at school and within the community, having a borehole and access to clean water improves the efficiency of every day tasks as much time is saved without having to walk for many kilometers to collect water. This task often falls upon women and girls and can take hours, sometimes only for a bucket or two. Having an easily accessible borehole eases the burden on women and girls and is also much safer, particularly in areas such as these where wild animals can be an issue. Furthermore, girls who have to collect water often end up skipping school to do so. Having a borehole means that they no longer have to do this, improving gender equality and ensuring that they have an equal opportunity to attend school and gain an education.

Boreholes also increase community cohesion as members have to work together, are trained in the operation and maintenance, and must take ownership of the borehole. This added responsibility encourages the community to work collaboratively and ensure that it is looked after.

The recipients – Jabulani, Mvaana, Fumbatshena, Kapane Secondary School, and Ngamo Secondary School are extremely grateful to now have this precious commodity on tap rather than walking up to 5 km away to get their daily drinking, cooking and washing water.

At Kapane Secondary School, a solar pump and holding tanks were installed to replace the hand pumps. An extension was also installed to the boarding facility, making it easier for boarders to collect water. General maintenance was also carried out at Ziga Primary School, which already has a solar pump. Here, a faulty pump was replaced with a new one.

Edith’s bequest has provided solar powered boreholes and water tanks for clean water access to 3 schools and 5 villages in Zimbabwe, impacting thousands of lives. We think she would be happy and proud of her friend’s decision to choose GCF.