He calls Illinois home but he has strong ties to Yorkton and area, spending a part of each summer at Burgis Beach and visiting the city regularly garnering support for initiatives that are near and dear to his heart.
After visiting remote locations in Kenya, where life as it exists is a daily struggle for survival, Vic Hamer knew he had to do something to help out.
“I used to band waterfowl in the Yorkton area – I spent five summers doing that,” he detailed in a recent interview with The News Review. “That’s how I actually came to own a cabin at Burgis Beach and got to know so many people in this area.”
Last year he initiated his first well project in Kenya, raising $20,000 to get the job done. “We named it Ruth’s Well. It’s named after a college student (who has since passed away) who gave me the idea. Her dad was a pastor in Kenya...”
A big part of the money raised for that well came from Yorkton, Ebenezer and Canora residents. This year Hamer is again seeking support to bring fresh water to another needed location.
“This well will be in Ches Patzer’s memory.” Patzer was a long time friend who lived in Ebenezer until he recently lost a battle with cancer. “Just because of his influence in my life and the life he lead... I think he is an example of someone who deserves to have something done in his memory.”
The well is planned for the village of Embu, Kenya. “It’s about two hours north of Nairobi and south of Mount Kenya.”
Life isn’t easy in these types of villages and clean water can make a world of difference. Having visited the country numerous times, Hamer has seen it happen first hand.
“There’s no water in that area now at all. Everyday the daily routine is survival. Most of the residents spend the entire day gathering water to cook with, to wash clothes with, gathering firewood or charcoal to cook with, cooking the meals (which generally consists of oatmeal), walking at least three miles to find water... their entire day is walking and working...
“This is life changing for these people. With clean water the babies do a lot better... even the old people, you can see life improvements for them... it provides them water for gardens... and that patch of corn is what they depend on to live...”
“If they can have water to water the garden that ensures them food for the year.”
With each well project, it’s crucial to involve the people says Hamer. “The key component in these third world countries is getting to know the people, getting them involved, getting pastors and school teachers in board, city officials... then it’s assurance that everything will go well.”
Like with Ruth’s Well, Kenyan residents will provide the physical labor to construct Ches’s Well. They will pick the stones needed and help with the building from beginning to end. “It makes it a community effort.”
Bringing clean drinking water to these people has become a passion for Hamer and almost a calling. “It’s a good feeling no doubt. It doesn’t cause me to jump up and down and to do that kind of thing. I have a passion to do it. It’s something that’s in me... for years I was passionate about ducks and wetlands and seeing the preserved... that passion has been replaced with a new passion... And I guess it feels good to see people who honestly appreciate something... they honestly appreciate anything and everything – from a pencil to a well...”
Yorkton and area residents can help out with the cause. Hamer says there will be posters around the city at local businesses where people can drop off donations. “If you go to a business and you see a poster you can donate to the well project.” Hamer has started up a non-profit organization called “Give Me Water Lord” to handle the funds and see that they go where they are needed.
If money isn’t an option, people can help out in other ways. Hamer says he is happy to deliver items that are needed and appreciated in Kenya. “There are small items that these people very much appreciate... simple washcloths like you would wash your dishes with, scrubbing pads, colorful bandanas, lipstick, the ladies love to receive these... the children like toys... they have to small, small truck, small car etc... anything with wheels, stuffed animals... if people donate this, we will get it to them...”
If you would like to see what’s happening first hand, in February Hamer is planning a Kenyan excursion to which local residents are invited to take part. There will be room for about 10 people and a firm itinerary is in the planning.
“We’ll travel to the wells, orphanages, the slums of Nairobi, you get to see daily life and how it exists in Nairobi... Basically it’ll be an educational tour of Kenya...” A wildlife safari tour is also a part of the plan where people will have the chance to capture photographs and take in the sights. If you are interested get in touch with Hamer and at that time he will provide details on costs, dates etc.
A website is in the works, but in the meantime, anyone wanting to get in touch with Hamer can do so by emailing: vicha...@gmail.com.