From the time she was a kid playing Tarzan with her brother and fascinated by stories and photos in National Geographic Magazine, Georgia Evans wanted to see Africa.
A former college track star, English teacher and owner of Westwind Graphics in Loveland for the last 25 years, in 2016 Evans reached a time and place in her life when she was able to sign up for an African safari. But she did more than just plan a trip to realize her long-held dream.
She began to think about ways in which she could make a difference in her destination country. From years of camping and backpacking, she knew about water straws, hand-held water filters, and thought they might be welcome in some remote parts of Africa. She bought 50 of them. During her research, she learned about community size water filters that could serve the clean water needs of a small village. She bought two of those. And she bought 50 malaria bed nets.
Online she found a small tour company in Tanzania owned by brothers Jackson and Eric and signed up to go on safari with them. They agreed to carry the large filters on top of their vehicle and to haul along the small filters and mosquito nets as well.
Because photography is one of her passions, Evans chose a safari group composed largely of photographers. “I knew I didn’t want to go alone and it was good to be with people who had common interests,” she said.
They explored the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti Plains—places Evans had read and heard about for years. And then Jackson and Eric took her to a tiny Maasai Village where she distributed the water straws and malaria bed nets and set up the community size water filters.
“I learned a lesson,” Evans said. “Always bring along a translator.” Turns out that the people of the village spoke a dialect even our guides did not understand.” Explaining how to use the large filter became a challenge. “The young chief had maybe a dozen English words,” Evans said. “Beyond that, I used sign language to explain how to use the filter we placed in the village.”
The second filter was installed in the primitive one-room village school. Now the villagers had a way to convert the muddy water they collected from a stream into safe drinking water. In addition, each member of the village was given a malaria bed net and enough twine to suspend it above their sleeping areas.
Two years later, with the help of generous supporters, Evans returned to Tanzania on her own with more water filters and mosquito nets which she donated to three remote villages identified for her by Jackson and Eric. They also took her to their home village where she met Jackson’s mother and was treated to a festive dance performed in her honor. (Jackson and Eric call themselves brothers because their fathers are twins, but they have different mothers.)
Evans has been back home for several months now and has used her talents and experience to develop Into Africa, a slide show and talk that illustrates her adventures from close-up photos of magnificent wildlife to scenes of village life. “You will never look at your home here in America without gratitude again,” she says.
She presents Into Africa, a woman’s personal journey to deliver clean water filters and malaria nets to three remote villages in Tanzania free of charge but donations to continue Evans’ work are appreciated. She holds a drawing for a couple of her photographs at each presentation.
Evans is seeking 501C3 non-profit status for her Village Care Project and welcomes inquiries from schools and clubs regarding Into Africa presentations. Reach her at 970-663-7492 or at firstname.lastname@example.org