• Kyle Dhillon
  • The Westminster Schools, senior

Kyle Dhillon

During the summer, Kyle Dhillon created a group of six volunteers who traveled to Tanzania in east-central Africa with a program dedicated to supplying clean and safe water to people who do not have access to it.

This was the first trip for the group, called SAFE Water Now, or SWaN, founded by a friend of Kyle’s mother.

Kyle’s initial job was raising money to pay for his trip. He sold cookies in front of a barbershop on West Paces Ferry Road.

“Two cookies for $1 is a pretty good deal,” he said, “and many people just donated out of generosity. Within a week, I’d made over $500. By March, I’d sold $1,100 in cookies to kick off fundraising,” Kyle said. With the help of a few donations from family and friends, Kyle was able to raise enough money for the trip.

The goal for the 18-day trip was building shelves for drying ceramic water filters and working on a new kiln for firing the filters. The volunteers made five shelves that could hold about 180 filters each.

“Within the first few days, we had already finished two shelves, and saw that we could make even more, as the factory required,” Kyle said. “We also distributed filters to four different orphanages and schools around the city of Arusha, built a sturdy work table, and sculpted nine filters of our own.”

One of Kyle’s favorite parts of the trip was playing soccer with the local children. “One of them brought a little ball made from plastic bags, and we ended up playing soccer until it got too dark and dusty to see the ball anymore. It was the best soccer game I’ve ever played,” Kyle said.

He also worked to stay in shape for cross-country. He’s the captain of Westminster’s team. In Africa, he met a 24-year-old distance runner named Omari, who helped manage the workshop. Omari would wake Kyle at 6 a.m. for runs on mountain trails. “We’d run between six and 10 miles most days,” Kyle said. “It was beautiful and difficult, but extremely rewarding.”

When Kyle arrived in Tanzania, he found that the volunteers’ house had no running water or electricity. He and the others could not shower for days and the electric power did not come on until late at night.

He quickly developed a deep respect for people who lived in the area.

“Although the city of Arusha would be considered very poor relative to Atlanta, the people know how to make use of everything they have,” Kyle said. “They waste very little, reusing tires for sandals and plastic bags for soccer balls.

“They also know how to appreciate life, despite not having many of the luxuries we do. Everyone I met in our village had such a good attitude about everything they did.”

What’s Next:

Kyle is back to school work, cross country and college applications. He hopes to travel to Tanzania again, hopefully next summer.