By Xinhua writer Wang Xiaopeng
NAIROBI, May 15 (Xinhua)-- Titus Nzasi has always believed that investments in good roads, water, education and health could unlock prosperity in his home town located on the far reaches of the semi-arid Kitui County in lower eastern Kenya.
Unfortunately, Nzasi's dream of better days ahead almost became a mirage due to climatic shocks like droughts that have worsened poverty, hunger and poor school enrolment in his ancestral rural community.
The middle-aged principal of an elementary school is now beaming with pride and optimism thanks to benevolence of a China's Stecol Corporation, which is affiliated with PowerChina, that has donated water storage tanks to help quench the thirst of young learners.
Staff from Stecol Corporation that is upgrading a 330-kilometer road that snakes through Kitui heartland, recently donated a huge plastic tank to Nzisa's Kitoo primary school that has the capacity to collect about 8 million cubic meters of rain water.
Before the donation, pupils at the school in this sunbaked rural outpost used to trek many kilometers in search of water and often times obtaining the precious commodity in distant wells and streams was not guaranteed.
As for now, the 480 young learners are not only happy but motivated to study with zeal now that their school has adequate water storage tanks to cater for their needs.
Nzisa told Xinhua during a recent visit to Kitoo primary school that his staff and pupils are now at peace thanks to donation of a water storage tank by a Chinese firm.
"The donation marked a new milestone in the history of this school that has always grappled with water scarcity to the detriment of academic aspirations of our pupils," Nzisa said.
"We are grateful to the Chinese company for lending a helping hand at a time an acute drought threatened learning in the larger Kitui County," he added.
The school will benefit from the opening up of Kitui vast hinterland through construction of the 330-kilometer highway that links the Kenyan coast to the northern border with Ethiopia and South Sudan.
Construction of the critical road network which commenced in August last year and is expected to be completed by February 2021, dovetails with Kenya's quest to become a regional transport and logistics hub.
Chinese firms are involved in the development of this modern infrastructure project against the backdrop of the Belt and Road Initiative to deepen cooperation with Kenya and other regional partners.
Qiao Dakuan, a manager with Stecol Corporation, said that service to communities has become a defining feature of Chinese firms that are engaged in development of mega infrastructure projects in Kenya.
He gave harrowing stories of coming across young learners in Kitui county scooping water using plastic buckets near road construction sites at the expense of their studies.
"My heart broke one cool evening in February this year when I spotted students from a nearby primary scouring the bare ground on the road side to look for water," said Qiao.
"After enquiry, we learnt that the students who were set for graduation were required to bring water to their school as a precondition for studies," he added.
Qiao, who had been touched by their plight, revealed his company donated buckets of water to the students in Matikoni Primary school.
The teenage learners in UAE mixed secondary school, which is located along the road, have also benefited from generosity of Qiao and his colleagues who are implementing the major road artery in Kitui County.
Brian Musembi, a student at the school, said he was elated to participate in its inaugural major football match thanks to donation of jerseys and soccer balls by a Chinese company.
The young man and his mother said the donation of sporting kit from a Chinese firm was a game changer in his quest to become a football star in the near future.
"I'm grateful to China for inspiring my son to excel in soccer," remarked Musembi's mother.
Chinese construction companies are transforming the lives of communities in Kenya's remote outpost that were previously cut off from any semblance of modernity.
Besides constructing roads that are opening up remote villages to new investments, the companies are engaged in robust corporate social responsibility (CSR) ventures to enable rural people lead decent lives.
Christine Nzambi, a young graduate and an administrator at the project office of Stecol Corporation in Kitui County, said she felt honored to work for a company that is developing modern roads while providing new lease of life to local communities through provision of water.
Since the project was launched in last August, the Stecol Corporation has employed about 900 locals like Nzambi, including drivers and construction workers. In addition to supply water and make donations to schoolers, the company also helped enlarge a dam in the county, which supplies water to about 3000 villagers.
What the Stecol Corporation had done is just a symbol of the growing Sino-Kenyan cooperation.
According to the data from Chinese Embassy, total bilateral trade hit approximately 3.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2017 while 400 Chinese companies have so far been established in Kenya and have employed some 120,000 locals.
Chinese firms have been involved in over 100 mega projects in Kenya including in the construction and finance of the Standard Gauge Railway that will play a significant role in making the country, a regional logistical hub.