Kostal reaching out to the Maasai

Getting ready to travel to rural Tanzania for the opening of the life-saving Kostal Water Project were, front from left, Don, Willie and Billy Keane and back, from left, Mike Herlihy, Seamus Heffernan, John Keane, Maurice Kelly and Des Martin. Billy and Don's brother Patrick is also travelling out with the group
Getting ready to travel to rural Tanzania for the opening of the life-saving Kostal Water Project were, front from left, Don, Willie and Billy Keane and back, from left, Mike Herlihy, Seamus Heffernan, John Keane, Maurice Kelly and Des Martin. Billy and Don's brother Patrick is also travelling out with the group
Billy Keane meets the young and elders of the tribe on his 2014 visit with the Medical Missionaries of Mary
Billy Keane and father Willie

Dónal Nolan

Kostal's 1,000-strong workforce between its Abbeyfeale and Mallow plants are being warmly thanked by one African community from the bottom of its heart this week.

Thanks to the support of the car-electronic manufacturer the Maasai people of an expansive rural community will no longer be forced to undertake pain-staking journeys for hours to collect noxious water.

The Kostal Water Project 2017 will instead see scores of villages equipped with their own water tanks, each complete with its own filtration unit and bathing area in what's set to transform their lives. And it's all thanks to Kostal Abbeyfeale employee Billy Keane and his father Willie; Listowel men who have been actively raising funds for the work of the Medical Missionaries of Mary in the area for over ten years.

"I'm a trainer with Kostal and through my work have gotten to know many of the Mallow workers as well and the support of everyone, including the company has been nothing short of amazing the last few years for the work in Tanzania," Billy said.

It's a charity link that was initially forged by Willie after he became friendly with the now deceased cleric Fr Louis Sisti, a native of the community who had travelled to Ireland petitioning the government here for help for his people. That help was proferred and so, too, was Willie's as the Listowel man launched into an incredible charity drive that has to date raised over €250,000 and built an entire hospital and school in Arusha.

Billy became impassioned by his father's work when he travelled out with him for the opening of the clinic and school in 2013. "That's when we got the idea for the water project. I met one woman who used to leave her home at 4.30am to collect water. She wouldn't get back until 6.30 in the evening, with filthy water at that," Billy explained.

He lost no time when he got back galvanising co-workers to action. Now, on March 9, he heads back with five Kostal colleagues - his brothers Paddy and Don, Tralee man Des Martin and Abbeyfeale men Michael Herlihy and Seamus Heffernan - to represent the company at the opening of the Water Project.

"A drill attempted before never got a drop and while we considered running a pipeline hundreds of miles from a nearest source felt this would only be tapped into by others before it ever got to the people. That's why we came up with the water tank idea.

"It only rains once or twice a year there, but when it does it rains hard. It helps grow the corn they farm but most is lost. These 5,000 litre tanks will help catch it so it can be used over months and the design is such that there will be a bathing area around each of the 20 tanks we're establishing in the area so people can bathe in clean water too," Billy said.

Kerryman

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