Fred Tubula ’22: Finding Inspiration in America

Fred Tubula is doing the triple jump at the Centennial Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships
Fred Tubula is doing the triple jump at the Centennial Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships

When Fred Tubula isn’t busy running and jumping alongside his track and field teammates, he spends his free time trying to raise money to fund water service projects in his home country of Kenya. The business, organizations, and management major was inspired to service when he arrived in the United States nearly seven years ago.

With the help of a Rotary Club in New Jersey which sponsors promising student from Kenya, Tubula came to the U.S. and attended the Sharon Academy in Sharon, Vermont in 2014. When Tubula arrived, he quickly noticed people had an innate desire to help others and he saw the opportunity to make a difference back home in Kenya.

Tubula grew up in southwest Kenya in a village called Narok, which is located right on the equator. It’s also in a semi-arid region where there is a shortage of water. The thought of building a well came to mind and the fundraising efforts began at the Sharon Academy in 2015.

“Where I come from this is a problem for many and there’s only so much you can do,” noted the junior. “Getting the opportunity to get out and see that there are people who are willing to help, that’s when the idea of actually doing something came in. I started to raise money then and talking to people who were interested in helping.”

With the money raised at that time, he was only able to hire a manual water driller back in 2016. Getting water wasn’t guaranteed, and despite all the effort, they weren’t able to find water as they couldn’t go deep enough, which ended that project.

Tubula transferred to a new high school in Philadelphia, Friends Select, in 2016-17, and went back to work raising money for a well. He started a GoFundMe account and raised money through the service program club, which included bake sales and other activities. Tubula also used some of his home culture to help in the fundraising effort, selling homemade jewelry made by the local women in his hometown.

In his attempt to build another well, Tubula wanted to hire a professional water driller, which dramatically improves the chance of finding water. The cost would be much more – $15,000 compared to the $4,000 for the manual driller. It was a long process, but through his fundraising efforts at Friends Select, he raised over half of the money needed to start the new water project.

Tubula along with his brother, Simon, contacted a conservationist, who works in Kenya, to help with the remaining funds and management of the water project. The conservationist happened to be doing projects in the same village the two brothers grew up in and he agreed to include the water project.

Fred Tubula and is brother Simon (left) in their home country of Kenya.
Fred Tubula and is brother Simon (left) in Kenya.

“The conservationist said that if we combine all these projects with his, which included building a local museum and school, and that if we put all the money together, we can include the water project,” noted Tubula. “We agreed and he finalized the plans.”

The project to build the museum, school, and the well was supposed to start back in January 2020, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic the project was put on hold. If it wasn’t for the pandemic, Tubula is confident the project would have been done by now and it has not diminished how grateful he is for everyone who has helped so far.

“If I didn’t get the opportunity to come to the United States, I don’t think this would have happened,” said Tubula. “I’ve learned that people in America are eager to help, and coming here certainly contributed to that. It has been inspiring to see.”

Tubula’s future goal is to work on more water projects for other areas where there is water storage, but for now, he is focused on completing this current endeavor.

“Being in the United States has been life-changing,” mentioned Tubula. “It has changed the way I see the world and I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for this opportunity.”

Tubula is studying remotely in Philadelphia this semester, but plans on coming back to campus next academic year where you’ll be sure to see him sporting the orange and blue on the track and continuing his fundraising efforts to bring hope back home.

If you would like to donate, please email Fred at tubufr01@gettysburg.edu.

This story was originally posted on the Gettysburg College Website.

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