BOONE — A fundraising event at Ransom Pub & Event Venue raised money to send water filters and tanks to communities in Uganda to increase access to safe drinking water.

The fundraiser was organized by Watauga River Keeper Andy Hill, French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson, a MountainTrue member, and local non-profit Wine to Water. Drinks and appetizers were provided for guests.

After attending a water conference in Washington, D.C., Ugandan Lake Victoria Waterkeeper Daniel Musota was invited to host events in Boone and Asheville to raise money to provide tools for clean water to the communities he serves.

He said that areas around Lake Victoria are becoming increasingly industrialized, specifically in Kampala, Jinja and Entebbe, which leads to contamination of water sources. Agriculture can impact the water quality as well as livestock, which shares the same natural springs as the people living in rural areas.

Musota said he was surprised when he first visited America and saw how accessible clean drinking water was — especially in public places.

“When I first came to America in 2018 I had an opportunity to go to Niagara Falls and I was surprised when I walked into the park and there was a place to get clean water to drink,” Musota said. “In Uganda, you can only have clean water if you live in a town or big city. If you go to the rural areas, people drink directly from open sources that are contaminated and it’s a challenge.”

Musota works to provide clean water to communities in Uganda by installing water filters, water tanks in public locations and drilling wells. He partnered with Wine to Water and MountainTrue to raise money to continue his efforts.

Musota spoke about the conditions in Uganda while a slideshow of pictures he took in his hometown of Jinja, Uganda were displayed on a screen.

“Women and children collect water from natural springs and they are often contaminated. We share this water with animals. In Uganda, we raise cows so cows also come and drink here, and it’s where we get our drinking water,” said Musota. “We have to walk for long distances to get water for drinking. Women walk many kilometers to get water.”

Wine to Water Director of Special Initiatives Shane Hillman demonstrated the effectiveness of the water filters the organization creates. He mixed dirt into water and attached a filter to the bottle before pouring it into a glass and drinking the now clear water. Attendees were invited to purchase a water filter for Musota to bring back to Uganda for $100.

Earrings provided by a Ugandan woman were sold and general donations were accepted to raise money for water tanks.

This event was one of three fundraising efforts conducted in Western North Carolina for the community Musota serves. Between the three fundraisers, more than $10,000 was raised to install eight water tanks in addition to the many filter provided. All water tanks will have filters installed on them as well.

Musota said he hopes other organizations in America will be inspired by the fundraising efforts of Wine to Water and help provide clean water access to the communities he serves.

For more information on clean water access efforts near Lake Victoria, contact Daniel Musota at ugandalakevictoriawaterkeeper@gmail.com.

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