After Don Howard’s retirement from the military he and Wife Pat Colfer moved to Colorado in 2011, and soon after Don became a member of the service organization Rotary. Serving as the international Service Chair of the club, he, along with Pat, worked with domestic and international partners to bring clean water to remote and desperately poor regions in East Africa. They worked tirelessly to complete 15 water projects in Kenya and Uganda.
Through their travels in Africa, they found that they were drawn to Kisii, Kenya, an area southwest of Kenya that comprises Kisii town and neighboring villages an hour-and-a-half drive from Lake Victoria. They were deeply moved by the poverty and daily struggles of the people they visited came to know. These are people from rural communities of Kisii who live on less than $1.50 a day, have no access to clean water, and whose children have little or no access to education. Don and Pat decided that to address these issues effectively, communities must mobilize and be organized so that members would work together to share knowledge and resources to bring about changes and opportunities that would increase family economic levels, better living conditions and education opportunities for their children. SCOPE International (School Communities Offering Projects that Empower) was then formed to facilitate this work.
A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, SCOPE has offices in Denver, Colorado, and Kisii, Kenya. Currently, SCOPE serves 48 communities in Kisii and Nyamira counties through a local staff of nine Kenyans who mentors and continuously assesses community needs. Through guidance and funding from SCOPE and its partners, projects such as tree nurseries, chicken rearing, cow/goat/sheep farming, school vegetable gardens have been implemented. Recognizing that access to clean water and education is vital for a community to thrive, SCOPE also works hard to fund and support water- and education-related projects.
While Kisii and Nyamira counties of western Kenya are only a tiny part of the world’s needy places, Don and Pat believe strongly that small local grassroots groups can make lasting positive changes in their own impoverished communities with some help from organizations like SCOPE. Together, we can, indeed, make inroads in the world of poverty.