Scholarship reward for inspiration
THE man at the head of a Tweed program bringing clean water to some of the poorest areas in Kenya has been recognised as a global leader in his field.
Olita Ogonjo, of Nairobi, is the desk coordinator for the Tweed Kenya Mentoring Program which is funded by Tweed Shire Council, its staff, the International Riverfoundation and other businesses and individuals.
“This accolade does not just belong to me - it belongs to, and is thanks to, Tweed Shire Council and the people of the Tweed,” he said.
Mr Ogonjo, who is currently visiting Tweed, has been awarded the inaugural Ken Thiess Memorial Scholarship through the International Riverfoundation.
The one-year scholarship will enable Mr Ogonjo to study a Master of Integrated Water Management in Brisbane next year and will include tuition, health care, food, accommodation and return flights.
Mr Ogonjo had previously worked as a community worker in some of Africa's poorest slums where he quickly realised the importance of clean water.
“My interest in water developed because when I was talking to the people, water and sanitation were always part of the discussion.
“The smell, the flies, the sickness, the erratic nature of the water supply and the high cost of water - these were things that made them angry,” he said.
He became an activist then formed the mentoring program after a chance meeting with Tweed Shire Council's general manager Mike Rayner at a conference in Japan in 2003.
Tweed Mayor Warren Polglase, who met with Mr Ogonjo yesterday, said he had a “profound impact” on the health and wellbeing of others.
“Olita is an inspirational young man who has visited the Tweed on a number of occasions and inspired us all with his passion and compassion,” Cr Polglase said.