After spending the morning with our sponsored children, Team World Vision and our amazing hosts, men and women who work and live in Lwamaggwa, Daniel’s community, loaded into thee four-wheel drive vehicles and headed out to see more of World Vision’s work in the community. Lwamaggwa is located deep in the country in southern Uganda. November is rainy season, so the red dirt roads on which we traveled were a muddy mess. The mud and the ruts were no match for our drivers. Many times, we approached water-covered roads and I thought there was no way to cross. Barack, our driver, never hesitated. Instead, he put his foot on the gas and we barreled through. The two-lane road we were on narrowed to just one lane. Further and further we went.
Then, all of a sudden, the trucks stopped. I looked around for a building, some sort of landmark to signal we’d arrived at a “destination.” Nothing. Just a few houses scattered along the road and the ever-present children running up to the truck to see the “Mzungus.” A small group of men were waiting for us. We got out and followed the men to a body of water. It was a bigger than a puddle but not big enough to be called a pond. It was covered in green slime. Below the slime, brown water sat stagnant. Bugs swarmed around my legs as I stood looking at the water. The Kansas farm girl in me wanted to call it a “watering hole.” Turns out, that is exactly what it was. In Kansas, watering holes are for our livestock. No person in her right mind would ever consider taking a drink from one. Here, this watering hole had been the primary water source for the community. Children walked miles with their yellow water jugs to collect this brown water for their families to drink, bathe in, and cook with. The walk was not easy. We heard stories of children being abducted and abused while they walked to get water. Drinking this water made the people sick. Diarrhea, malaria, and other water-related illnesses attacked the community. I stared at the filthy water unable to find words to describe how I felt. Then, Paul, the World Vision Program Manager for Lwamaggwa, told us to get back in the trucks and follow him.
We climbed back in the vehicles, turned around, and headed back down the muddy road. We turned down another dirt road and traveled on for a few minutes. Then we arrived at a community health center. A large crowd was waiting for us. They were smiling, and they were cheering. As we got out, women came to us to shake our hands and hug us. Children were playing and laughing all around us. The men who met us at the watering hole were there too. They ushered the large crowd of people toward a large structure. It was a metal roof held up by large poles. Again, the farm girl in me saw something familiar. It was like a pole barn that Midwestern farmers used to keep machinery or hay dry. Guttering ran along all four sides of the roof. A very large black water tank sat at each of the four corners of the barn. The guttering ran to each tank. As it rained, the water rolled down the gutters and into the tops of the tanks where filtration systems cleaned the water and deposited it in the tanks. Clean water to cook with. Clean water to bathe in. Clean water to drink.
We gathered under the shelter of this magnificent water collection project to listen to community members. We learned that this water project was just a few months old. The people had gathered that day to celebrate us and thank God and World Vision for their clean water! World Vision worked hand in hand with the community to build this system. Now that it is constructed, a water board, comprised of volunteers from several communities, monitors the system, and makes repairs as necessary. We heard story after story from the people. The people told stories about how cases of diarrhea and malaria were down. Mothers and fathers told us they no longer worried about their children’s safety as the children left their homes to fetch water. We heard stories of answered prayers. The people rejoiced and gave thanks to God for His provision of clean water.
Before that day in November, it had never occurred to me to thank God for clean water. I never paused before brushing my teeth to thank Him that clean water flowed from my faucet. I did loads and loads and loads of laundry without ever recognizing the One who provided the water to clean my family’s clothes. When I thought about water, I associated it with drudgery – cleaning toilets, bathing children, washing dishes, and wiping up spills.
Not anymore. I now see that water is a gift from God. It is a gift that God intends for all His children to receive. Over the past 25 years, 11 million rural inhabitants in Africa, Asia, and Latin America have gained access to safe drinking water through World Vision's integrated and environmentally sustainable programming. Currently, World Vision is partnering with local communities, governments, organizations, and generous donors to provide another 5 million people access to safe water, adequate sanitation, and good hygiene. When you sponsor a child, World Vision uses a portion of your monthly gift and combines it with gifts from other sponsors to provide assistance the community needs most including access to clean water. Sponsor a child and change a life!
I care and so I run.
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