Clean water saves lives. With some patience and hard work, it can also create peace.
Sinde village is in one of the saltiest regions of Uganda. Almost every well for a several-mile radius is too salty to drink. The entire area is desperate for clean, fresh water. The thoughts of every man, woman, and child are preoccupied with water for much of every day.
Kibo started working with Sinde village in 2014. They needed water so desperately. They were getting their water from the swamp, where all of the used, dirty water from the village ended up. The small amount of drinkable water that people could access was fought over bitterly. People were getting sick and dying at record rates. Another nonprofit and even the government tried drilling wells in Sinde village before, but all of them had turned out salty. But we were determined to help.
I co-manage Kibo’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) program, which drills and repairs wells in rural Ugandan villages. But before we help villages to get a well, we do sanitation and hygiene education. (A clean water well is pretty useless if it ends up in a dirty container, for instance.) Usually, villages take 6 months to a year to build sanitation and hygiene facilities. But Sinde village did it in only two months. They needed water that badly!
When their village had attained the necessary sanitation and hygiene standards, we went on the hunt for water. The entire Kibo staff prayed with the village that we would find water. We believed God brought us to Sinde, and we had faith God would provide.
The drilling process was nerve-wracking. We hit a lot of obstacles, and when we finally struck water, it wasn’t as much as we had hoped for.
But it was fresh. Not a single grain of salt.
Sinde’s cries of joy could be heard for miles. People come from all over the district to drink from the well we drilled in Sinde. No other well in all of Uganda is cared for as lovingly as Sinde village cares for its well. The community members know that it is the most precious of resources — a lifeline in the truest sense of the word. They are determined to protect the well, but they are also determined to protect the peace that makes the well worth having. A well is only a source of life if no one is fighting over it or threatening it. This well has saved lives and also compelled the community to work through conflicts so that everyone can have access to clean, fresh, healthy water.
Kibo’s Health and Spiritual Empowerment program and Healthy and Safe Kitchens program are still working in Sinde village. Every time a Kibo staff member visits, even after all these years, the community thanks us again for their well. But at Kibo, we thank no one but God and the hard work and commitment of the community. We helped drill it. They’re the ones who keep it.
This article was also published here by The Journey Church.