Walter Opiyo

EK Emergency Boat Coxswain

Walter has been a member of EK since 2008, and one of the first to join the EK Club during World Cup VCT. He has worked for years as a skilled boat pilot. Walter gained much experience on the lake piloting the 3-hr long daily shuttles to Mbita point, each boat packed with 50-60+ people, lumber, livestock, and supplies on 60-ft wooden canoes, driven across the rough lake on 40-hp outboard engines. In 2011, Walter convinced his former boss, Onyango Orao, to donate a 35-ft boat and 40-hp engine to serve as the Ekialo Kiona Emergency boat.  EK decided that day to develop an Emergency Boat program and Walter began volunteering as the Emergency Boat pilot. After 6 months of fundraising, OHR was able to hire Walter full-time and provide the island first ambulance boat.  Walter and his Emergency Boat team have complete training in Wilderness EMS and have since expanded this important service to provide 24-hr emergency transport for over 10,000 people living along the remote shores of Mfangano East.

In addition to being on 24-hr call as the EK boat pil0t, Walter can also be found any day at the EK helping set-up rooms and equipment for EK events, or checking ID cards at the door. Walter also serves as a translator for OHR – Suba to Luo or English – and is often seen giving tours around the community.

How did you learn about EK?

I met Chas Salmen the first time he came to the island through Richard. Then I helped Nadine Levin with the food and nutrition project before the EK Center was complete. I really enjoyed working to serve my community. One day I had a conversation with Chas and Marco Salmen, and the next day I decided to ask my friend if he would donate his boat for EK to make an emergency boat. Thats how I got started as the EK Emergency Boat Driver.

Do you enjoy your job?

Very much! Seriously, I spend most of my days here. It has given me awareness and trained me in new things.

What is one thing people should know about EK?

There are a variety of programs here, for all different types of people… but you can only participate if you have become a member through VCT.