The Garden of Eden Nursery School is located in the village of Munteme, Uganda. This location is a nursery school located near a Catholic Church. The school has 545 pupils, and while we were not able to get an accurate count of the households in the area, the estimate is that over 1000 people will be helped by this well.
Both the school and church are just off of a main, and very busy, road. But there is no clean water nearby. The closest water within walking distance is a swampy area. The children at the school are very small, the water source is a significant drowning risk. In addition there are water born illnesses in all open water sources in the area. Typhoid, bilharzia and the like are all very common for people having to drink this kind of water. And the swamp is highly trafficked, which makes it dangerous in another way. With a well tucked closer to the school, and the protection offered there by the staff, women and children from both the local congregation and the school itself could have access to water without having to worry about who is visiting the water source, both wild animals, and humans.
When school children get sick because of the water at their school, parents are less likely to send them back after an illness. Without an education, many will never escape the cycle of poverty that they have been born into, largely due to the lack of clean water. Clean water, of the lack thereof, is at the heart of the issue.
The funding for future repairs and maintenance is a two-part process. When the village, or school in this case, is chosen for a well, they sign a contract stating that they will do their best to set aside a few pennies per month to help cover the cost of future repairs. In the
past, we did not do this and the villagers did not step in to take care of the well, because they did not fully feel like it was theirs. This method acts as a guarantee that they will take ownership of the well. This ‘buy in’ is the key to CEED’s long term success. Because the
villages have the contract for care of the well, in their minds the wells belong to them, and they work hard to make sure that the pump is cared for, and the well base is kept free of plant that could damage the concrete or well casing. This means that our wells have a very
long life span in contrast to the poorly maintained government wells.
In 2020 CEED took the opportunity to do a survey of 20 villages that have access to one of our wells. On average each village experienced a 70% reduction in illness across the board. Typhoid, cholera, parasites, and water-born illnesses dropped significantly. We do understand that there are, of course, other factors that play a part in community health, but it all must start with access to clean water. This survey is unique in that we have yet to find another study that isolates the impact of a well itself.
We also learned that water is at the core of the poverty cycle in the area. When the villagers are sick, they cannot work, and most medicines and doctor’s visits require on average a day’s wage for a dose. This means that either another adult must work to cover the costs, or the person in need of treatment must use his wages when he returns to cover the cost. One illness can jeopardize job and food security for a whole family. And when some 20 odd villagers are potentially ill at once time, 20 households can be thrust back into a poverty cycle at any given time.
We also expect that with a clean water source nearby, the nursery school will see an increase in attendance, as children aren’t sent to the ponds on water runs any longer. And people from the surrounding area would be more likely to send their children as well. Most
schools in Uganda offer boarding to children who don’t live close by, so there will be more than just the village children helped with this well. Schools in Uganda still teach the basics of the Bible. So the children who are brought into the school won’t just be getting a secular
education, but a spiritual one as well.
We are also known for requiring domestic violence contracts from the villages where we know that it is an issue. If the village wants the well, the husbands must agree to be kind to their wives. So far it has been a very effective tool for improving the lives of the village women on top of the other improvements that come from clean water.
Schools in Uganda teach children the fundamental foundations of the Christian faith, like schools in the United States used to. By putting a well here, children from the surrounding area will be drawn in to attend, and they will be exposed to the gospel from a very young age. Even children of families who may not attend church. An unbelieving family can be transformed by a child who has been made a disciple. That’s what this well can do.
There is also a Catholic Church within walking distance of the well, that will also benefit from the clean water year-round. We haven’t run numbers yet on how a nearby well impacts congregational growth. But the parishioner’s will be interacting with those seeking water when the gather at the well, what better place to minister to your unbelieving neighbors than at a well gifted by the people of God?
In addition, when we dig, our wells we bring in a solar powered projection system and play the Jesus film to everyone who comes to watch the well be dug. The film is in their local dialect, and everyone who lives in the area around the village will come to watch the machinery working. It becomes quite the event with hundreds of locals watching the story of Jesus unfold. And when the well is dedicated, a minister from a nearby church will come to bless the new well, growing the connection between villages and churches within a walkable distance. The well is and will be accessible to everyone who wants to access the well.
All projects are made possible by World Changers.