Photo of children at KEGO by Rippling Waters Charity

Every ripple in the smallest water starts with a drop. This is how the Rippling Waters Charity (RWC) opens its website. The non-profit venture was established by John Heap (Raven CLI) and Suzi Heap with the International Association of Geosynthetic Installers (IAGI) and its Give Back Program in 2015. Together, they raise money, dedicate time, and support communities in need of sustained access to clean water and systems that create a sustainable, food-producing eco-system.

Understanding the impact of a single drop is certainly a meaningful message from IAGI too. The organization has been instrumental to improving geosynthetic containment installations around the world. It has grown over the years in a grassroots-style building of professional programs that focus on the value of sharing expertise and getting involved in volunteer-led quality improvement programs.

The impact RWC and IAGI are having on an orphanage and school community in the Homa Bay area near Lake Victoria in Kenya is significant. It’s an inspiring story and one worth taking a moment to appreciate.

Photo of children at KEGO by Rippling Waters Charity
KEGO students outside the school, which has been heavily supported by the geosynthetics community. Photo by Rippling Waters Charity.


The Heaps have been the most ardent supporters of Rippling Waters. They took the lead on IAGI’s Give Back Program in 2015 and funded the launch of RWC to manage the processing of charitable payments into the program. They’ve been closely involved in the direct funding and fundraising efforts since, travel regularly to Africa to visit the area being supported by RWC, and ensure that 100% of the proceeds go directly into the fund.

Rippling Waters Charity does not use any of its money for administration and overhead.


The joint work from IAGI’s Give Back Program and RWC is currently focused on an orphanage and school in western Kenya. The site, KEGO, was previously supported almost entirely by donations from a geosynthetics inspector in the United States, Philemon Onyango. He and John Heap met in Colorado (where Raven CLI is based) four years ago. A conversation about KEGO emerged and the geo-community responded significantly.

Image of aquaponics at KEGO school and orphanage
Donations have funded salaries, supplies, meals, a new well, facility upgrades, and even an aquaponics operation.

In one of the earlier projects, more than $60,000 was raised for the construction of a new well and establishment of an aquaponics operation.

Today, KEGO receives roughly $36,000 per year from RWC for general support. The payments, provided in monthly increments, contribute to salaries for teachers, administrators, guards, and cooks as well as the acquisitions of locally grown vegetables, rice, maize, peanut butter, and firewood. The RWC interaction is great enough to provide two meals daily for the children and staff.

During the Heaps’ November 2019 visit, they also brought new white boards and markers, books, pencils, pens, crayons, and paper supplies for all classrooms.

The results of this steady infusion of support have seen the KEGO students excel beyond most schools in Homa Bay County. In fact, the most recent class of 8th graders to graduate led the county in test scores.

John and Suzi Heap met with the graduating students, who will begin secondary school in January 2020. They traveled together with affiliated teachers and staff into Homa Bay to shop for secondary school clothes and enjoy a celebratory meal in a hotel restaurant overlooking Lake Victoria.

Photo of students and faculty from KEGO travel to Homa Bay
KEGO orphanage teachers and graduating 8th graders head off to celebrate not only successfully completing primary school education but finishing with the top scores in Homa Bay County.

In this, we find the expanding future of RWC. These students have come up through the KEGO orphanage’s education program. Though they are moving to secondary school, Rippling Waters is looking to continue supporting them alongside the project work at KEGO’s school.


Geosynthetics and geotechnical professionals are exposed to diverse peoples and economies all over the world as a regular aspect of the work. This has produced a number of charities and community programs like what we see at KEGO.

For individuals or companies interested in donating to KEGO, please know that you do not have to be a member of IAGI. Rippling Waters Charity is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization in the United States.

All donations go directly into the program. For companies that wish to make larger donations, $600 supports a secondary school student’s fees; $8,400 supports a class. BUT, the organization accepts donations of any amount from individuals and companies.

Recent donations into the general fund have been strong enough that KEGO is being renovated and new desks are being added. The older desks have even been repurposed with the Riverbend Orphanage nearby, so the impact the geo-community is having on KEGO is spreading to other sites.

“We would also ask that those of you that feel like you need a bridge to support a worthy cause consider Rippling Waters Charity as that bridge,” John Heap writes in a December 2019 RWC update. “We have no overhead and all dollars donated go directly to supporting the efforts at KEGO. RWC has boots on the ground at KEGO and watches the efforts monthly to make sure our funding dollars are used for the benefit of the Children. The economic ripple generated by your donation will continue to support the local farms, merchants and support staff at the school.”



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