The following post is one of a compilation of stories written for a photo book showing God’s work through International Teams in communities across north-eastern Uganda.
“I could have died and no one would have known,” says Ajesu Salapina, sitting beside her hut in the rural village of Obulle. The 80-year-old widow shakes her head as she remembers, looking up at the glaring Ugandan sun above. “No one would come by for days at a time and I could not walk to water. I was in big trouble.”
Salapina’s problem is a common one in Uganda today, and not just for the elderly. In fact, an estimated 10 million Ugandans in rural areas lack access to clean water. Even those with access to a community well are rarely closer than 1-3 kilometers away. Under these conditions, few receive the amount of water they truly need to care for family, crops, or livestock and many resort to drinking from unsafe sources.
But Salapina no longer wonders where she will get water. Just 20 feet from the door of her hut now stands a small hand operated well where just a few pumps brings a stream of clean water to an incredibly grateful woman. “I am so happy and thankful to God,” says Salapina, her eyes shining as she stands to pump a cup of water for herself.
In 2011, International Teams began working alongside the local church in Obulle, in partnership with an organization called Water For All International, to help those like Salapina. Rather than drilling one well and leaving, the aim is to work long-term, side by side with the local church to teach families in the community of Obulle and beyond to drill their own low-cost wells, made entirely from locally available materials. Not only can such wells be a boon to the health and income of families but they also provide the church with a powerful way to serve and minister to the community.
“These wells have made a big difference for many families,” says one Ugandan named Jimmy. Taking a break from a long day of well-drilling, he wipes water and mud from his forehead as the sounds of breaking rock and splashing water continue behind him. Up and down, a group of Ugandan men heave a long pipe and drill bit, slowly working their way through some thirty meters of earth to make a new well for a widow in their community.
Jimmy and several others from the local church now work in two teams that drilled thirteen wells over the past year as they test and perfect the technology alongside people from International Teams and Water For All. In fact, Jimmy and two friends hope to start their own drilling company in the years to come, taking the technology and philosophy of ministry to other nearby villages.
If you visit Salapina today, you will likely find her near the well, talking to women from her community and playing with children as she offers her water to anyone who needs it. “Now she is telling everyone all the time what God has done,” says a local pastor in Obulle village. “Before everyone who comes, she is testifying.”
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Please pray for Salapina and the many Ugandans like her who find themselves in desperate need of water. Pray that the Lord would provide what they need and that he would guide the local church, local Christians, and workers with International Teams to have wisdom and strength as they seek to help.