Could you or someone you know join our team? WATSAN is urgently seeking a new volunteer Treasurer

WATSAN trustees group photo

Following the tragic death of our highly esteemed Treasurer Stephen Bullett, WATSAN is urgently seeking a new Treasurer to join the Board of Trustees.

This is a pivotal role in the continued efficient functioning of WATSAN, and the chance for someone who shares our values to make a huge difference to the lives of some of the most impoverished people in South-Western Uganda. It encompasses the management of donations, transmissions to our team on the ground in Uganda, and preparation of annual accounts. Full details can be found in the job description.

Our new Treasurer would join a team of approachable, experienced, like-minded people all committed to ensuring a bright future for WATSAN and the communities we serve. We offer a positive outlook and a hand of friendship to anyone joining our ranks!

We would like to ask our wonderful network of donors and supporters to please consider if you or anyone you know might be able to step up and help WATSAN in this crucial role. Stephen left WATSAN’s accounts in good order, and his diligent and conscientious approach means that the paperwork will be ready to hand over without too much trouble. We feel certain that there is someone in our combined networks who has the vision and talents to continue his legacy.

Please do ponder this job description, forward it on, share it on social media, or even print it and put it up in your loo! And if you have any thoughts or ideas, please do contact Ian at bensted@easynet.co.uk.

 

WATSAN loses brilliant Treasurer Stephen Bullett

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the sudden death from heart failure of Stephen Bullett on 13th July 2020 at the age of 67. Stephen was a very successful professional electrical engineer who served WATSAN brilliantly as Treasurer from our inception in 2003.

By Ian and Ellie Bensted

Stephen is pictured here in 2007, with his lovely wife Julie in the background, amongst a few of the many people in Uganda that they have served so faithfully over their years of dedicated service for WATSAN. Stephen is here talking “treasurer to treasurer” with the Treasurer of the Nyakashenyi Gravity Flow Scheme.

For nearly 40 years Stephen was a chartered electrical engineer, and latterly a Team Leader, working for consultancies designing electrical systems for large industrial plants in the oil, gas, chemical and water industries. By the time of his retirement in 2014 Stephen had already given WATSAN 11 years of faithful service, early on leading us into charitable status, achieved in 2008.

As Treasurer of WATSAN for 17 years, Stephen exercised impeccable integrity throughout. His accounts were indistinguishable from those of a professional accountant. He led in the quarterly transmission of funds to Uganda, and in all our dealings with the Charity Commission. He and Julie were also massive contributors to the biennial Walk for Water events. Meticulous, hard-working, wise and always gracious, with a gentle teasing sense of humour if one of the Trustees needed correcting, Stephen will be greatly missed by us all. He will be a hard act to follow!

A convinced Christian, Stephen was an active member of St John’s Church in Locksheath, Southampton, where the Vicar, Revd. Peter Ingrams, a founding father of WATSAN, persuaded Stephen to volunteer to help. Later, when Stephen and Julie moved to Clayhidon in Devon, he quickly gained the confidence of local people and became churchwarden there. A practical man throughout, Stephen enjoyed restoring a 1950 Daimler motor car during his retirement, and took an invaluable role in the replacement and management of successive WATSAN project vehicles in Uganda.

Stephen’s premature death is a grievous loss, not only to Julie and their son Richard, relations and friends, but to the whole WATSAN family.

The “dancing roads” and the WATSAN truck

The pot-holed Ugandan roads are taking their toll again, and the project truck upon which the staff team rely so heavily will need replacing soon. 

In December we shared with supporters the need for a new motorbike for Moses to help him negotiate the “dancing roads” to reach the remote villages of the Kinkiizi Diocese.

Your response was swift and generous. We have a small surplus, which we’ve put into a Vehicle Fund. This has been augmented by the Ugandan Team prudently offering the old clapped-out bike for sale to the highest bidder. 4 million Ugandan Shillings (about £850) was raised!

In 2015 the UK Support Group sent funds for a well-researched second-hand Toyota truck to transport the team and their necessary equipment and materials across the project area, which is about the size of Oxfordshire. Over these five years the dancing roads have taken their toll, requiring expensive repairs in Kampala over 200 miles away.

A replacement will cost some £25,000, sooner rather than later! So, once again we are seeking your generous support.

No vehicle – no project – the truck is the workhorse of WATSAN!

Donate now

Sir John Houghton

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of Sir John Houghton on April 15th 2020 at the age of 88. Described as “one of the greatest scientist statesmen of our time”, John was knighted by the Queen in 1991.

By Ian and Ellie Bensted

John and Sheila Houghton with Bishop Dan Zorecka

John and his wife Sheila, pictured here in Wales with Bishop Dan Zoreka, Bishop of Kinkiizi, have enthusiastically and generously supported WATSAN for the past 11 years. John took part in our first Walk for Water in 2011, and he and Sheila have been dear friends ever since.

As an Oxford professor and one-time Head of the Meteorological office, the world will remember John for his immense contribution towards the understanding of climate change, beginning with research as early as the 1960s. He continued to spread the message of potential “mass destruction” if no action were to be taken about global warming, with dogged determination to a sceptical world. This culminated in 2007 in his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with Al Gore, on behalf of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), as their co-chairman.

In recent years John became frail, as sadly dementia set in, but lovingly supported and cared for by Sheila, he continued to delight in their garden, the sight of his much-loved Welsh hills, and in walking by the sea, right up until just a few weeks before he died with COVID-19.

A convinced Christian, an elder in the local church in Aberdyfi, Sir John lived an amazingly fruitful life, always putting his faith into practice. John leaves amongst other publications a classic university textbook on climate change Global Warming (5th edition), a book for enquirers into Christianity, “The Search for God – can science help?”, and his very readable autobiography, In the Eye of the Storm, which we warmly recommend.

How coronavirus is affecting the WATSAN team in Uganda

WATSAN’s trustee board is in regular contact with the staff team in Uganda. The country is in lockdown but as providers of key health-related infrastructure, our staff are still working on WATSAN projects.

The COVID-19 pandemic seems to be in its early stages in Uganda, with 55 confirmed cases at the time of writing. The Government introduced social distancing and lockdown measures in late March, and the WATSAN office was temporarily closed before our staff received special permission from the Resident District Commissioner to use the project vehicle to travel within Rukungiri and Kanungu districts to oversee projects, as long as it carries no more than three people.

Masons and engineers are exempt from the lockdown and so can continue to carry out our vital water and sanitation projects, which will support communities to be more resilient against the virus. This includes work on Buhunga gravity flow scheme, Kinyasano High School, and pit latrines at Kihihi Hill. This is on the condition that staff stay on site rather than travelling home in between working days.

Nonetheless, our Field Director Eric Baingana reports that many homes have a shortage of food, prices for domestic necessities have gone up and many people are out of work as businesses have been closed down. The trustees are working with the team to make sure none of WATSAN’s staff is in financial crisis at this time.

Staff have been given hand sanitiser and face masks to protect themselves and others, and will also be provided with some stocks of maize flour and beans to help them at home.

Eric has preached on one of FM radios in Rukungiri town in a Sunday Service on air (meeting in church buildings for worship is currently prohibited), and as part of this shared a coronavirus prayer sent to him by TearFund. He tells us: “According to the listeners of the service and my sermon in particular, we are immensely encouraged according to the messages they sent to me after the service.”

The trustees will be keeping in touch with the team and assisting them in whatever way we can in the current crisis.

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