Paul Njamba during the interview
At Water for the World, he is simply known as “001”, which is short for “Employee no. 001”. The reason why they refer to Paul Njamba as “001” is because he was the very first employee at Water for the World when the organization started its operations in Kenya in 2008. Paul has been with W4W since.
Paul cannot quite be described as a man of gigantic physical proportions, and yet the term “gentle giant” fits him as well as his dark blue drill operator’s pair of overalls. Perhaps it is the tenderness with which he described the job that he does, or maybe it’s the unexpected nobility from a man who works in some of the harshest, marginalized, under-served parts of Kenya. Whatever the case might be, Paul is one of those people that make you get the assured feeling of “it will be done, and it will be done well”.
Paul joined W4W in January 2008 as a driver with a background in automotive engineering. He remembers fondly the first borehole that was ever drilled by W4W. He witnessed the Pat Drill 401 sink a 180 meter borehole at Karura Community Church, and his eyes lit up as he described the feeling of wonder that he experienced as water sprouted from the dry ground and quickly turned into a river of fresh clean water right before his eyes. In his own words, that was the moment that he committed himself to become part of a transformation that regularly happens each time W4W crew successfully complete a borehole drilling project. A transformation of communities from the scarcity that is so acute that a person has to walk for hours or days to quench a simple thirst, to one where there is abundance of water for personal use, agriculture and animal husbandry. This transformation is what W4W’s motto simply and aptly describes as “dignity in life”.
Paul has seen the growth of W4W from the initial five employees in 2008 to the current number of 25 members of staff. In 2008, W4W completed 4 boreholes and only had a capacity to drill up to 100 meters. In 2018 W4W completed 45 boreholes, with some of them being 400 meters deep! And other than just the single drilling unit that existed in 2008, today there are additional units that work exclusively in Drilling, Test Pumping, Installations, Workshop and Marketing. In those 10 years, Paul worked himself through the ranks from being a driver, to becoming Head Drilller at W4W.
Listening to Paul talk about the challenges that his team often faces such as insecurity due to terrorism and banditry, difficulty in accessing sites due to bad or non-existent roads, time away from loved ones for long periods of time, or even thirst and hunger due to scarcity of water and food, it becomes clear that his is no ordinary job.
Paul is grateful to work at W4W. He praises his colleagues for the spirit of goodwill and camaraderie that enables them to work together and complete their work successfully, especially when out in the bundus. As you listen to him calmly explain about the dynamics of interacting with his colleagues that makes them such a strong team, you realize that even though his modesty will not allow him to mention it, his leadership skills are an indispensable ingredient in this mix. He also praised the W4W Board of Directors and Management Staff for the concern, care and support that is offered at work and even at a personal level. He pointed out various training opportunities that W4W staff have undergone to make them become better at what they do, and more fulfilled in who they are.
Alas! Sometimes it floods and soaks through your food, bedding and spirit! But despite having to sleep in a truck Paul and his team forge ahead (2013)
Paul (in hat) posing for a photo with members of a local community while on a drilling project tour in 2014
Paul (extreme right, seated) with W4W staff at a training in March 2016
Paul (in white overalls) servicing one of the trucks in preparation for a drilling excursion in Lodwar. He uses this as an opportunity to train his crew members (September 2019)
Paul the family man
So, what keeps him going? I asked. Paul smiled and quoted the mantra that was bequeathed him by the first W4W Managing Director, Bruce Collins: “Do it as if you are doing it for the Lord”. Other than that, there is the satisfaction of knowing that his job makes a difference; that a single borehole can save many lives and change the fortunes of generations to come. He is also encouraged by the timeless corporate values that W4W has held dear from its inception to the present: Service, Integrity, Teamwork, Excellence, Efficiency and Respect.
As “001” walked away from the interview and back to his busy work day schedule, I was overcome by a feeling that can adequately be expressed by the words in Hebrews 6:10:
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”