The village of Mwiri, in the Kayonza district of Rwanda, is in desperate need of clean water. This is a poverty-stricken community that has no means of its own to solve this problem.
Our ministry partner is establishing a Christian school here to serve the community, and will have 500 students daily. The school property is located next to the Mwiri Reconciliation Village where they have no well, and there is no clean water for miles. The village is very impoverished and marginalized; it was one of several established after the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. Both perpetrator families and victim families live together in the same village. The idea was to help the country heal after that horrific event, just 30 years ago, when up to 600,000 Tutsi people were massacred by Hutu people. Over time the villages have helped to bring healing with much pastoral care and patience. It is an ongoing process.
The people are visibly unhealthy. Lack of clean water is a huge contributor to the high level of sickness they suffer. There is no local clinic to go to when they are sick. The [nearest] clinic is a 30-minute drive away, and the people do not have cars. In Rwanda it is reported that 43% of the people do not have access to clean drinking water that is within 30 minutes of their homes (UNICEF). In a 2020 survey Rwanda was deemed to have a VERY high degree of risk for major infectious diseases from food or water-borne sources. And, there is a 20% mortality rate due to drinking unclean water and lack of sanitation (WORLDBANK).
After local research, and in their experience, the poor people mostly do not go to the doctor. When they are very sick, they might go to the health center to be given a referral to go the hospital. If they go it will cost them money. Money they do not have. When one of the staff members was badly injured (not a water-related disease issue) our partner had to transport him to the hospital 1 hour away by car. Once there, they didn’t give him any medicine for 12 hours. It is a poor health-care system. How much more imperative that the people have access to clean water to prevent illness.
The Mwiri village and school are located on top of this hill.
Students and villagers must go to the bottom of the hill, to draw muddy water from a stream.
There is no government water or other boreholes nearby. Their water source is a dirty stream that is shared with animals. Also, people will use water run-off from their roofs when it rains, but mostly, they must go to the stream. And it is a far distance to get to the stream. These kids [and] people walk far for water, at least a 30-minute walk and up to 5 miles one way. And it is all the way down, down, downhill to get to it. So going back is [all] uphill, only now carrying a heavy load of water. Such toil, plus the terrain is rocky and not paved, so it can be treacherous walking. Kids miss school as they spend a lot of time fetching water.
The local people suffer from cholera, typhoid, skin rashes, diarrhea, and worms. Currently, they are drinking dirty stream water, they cook with it, and [use it] for household use. The people are not able to practice basic hygiene because of the scarcity of water in the area.
This is the fifth well project that we are doing in Rwanda, and the need for clean water is great. We have had excellent success with this ministry partner, Cindy Murphy, over our years of partnership with her. She has done excellent work with two other schools located in Kenya, and this will be the fourth in Rwanda. A Christian educator, she had seen the incredibly desperate situations of the children in the poorest slums of Nairobi and began a first Christian school [there], then a second in Kenya, and then, touched by the deplorable conditions of the reconciliation villages, began schools in Rwanda.
We do not do projects unless we have formed an ongoing partnership with a good track record of accountability with any ministry partner who is involved in any Safe Water Ministry project. We require ‘before’ marker photos where the well will be drilled. We collect pertinent details that describe the need, collect completion photos, reports and testimonies. For payment It depends on the project who receives the funds. We do not pay in full up front for projects. Usually, 60% at the commencement and the balance upon completion. Sometimes we send [the money] to the partner, to then pay the driller. Sometimes directly to the driller. In this case, we will send the funds to our partner and they will pay the driller. We try to get confirmation that the driller will arrive on schedule, because sometimes drilling gets delayed. We would rather be in control of the funds vs. the drilling companies.
As a part of our process, we require all of our ministry partners to agree to prepare for and manage any future maintenance on the well. The receiving partner ministry may take on the responsibility and/or they may create a water commission, have community meetings, and have the community agree to contribute in some way according to ability.
For future maintenance meetings with the benefiting community are held. It is very important that the local people know that this is ‘their’ well. When they know they have ownership they will work to take care of it best they can. The whole community agrees how best to manage the water asset. Often times very small fees are charged for the future management of the well, but the process varies from place to place. Here with this particular project, the school will direct the management. The plan is to have a small, fractional fee (not yet decided) as approved by the leadership so the community may contribute to future well maintenance. We work to educate partners to understand better about self-sufficiency.
Providing a deep well will benefit the whole community and also the Christian school, which will provide a quality education open to the children of the area. This is the 4th school that our ministry partner has established in Rwanda. She has followed her calling to bring quality Christian education to the poorest of the poor.
Besides the school there in much other ministry activity. Outreach ministry activities, Bible studies, vocational training such as sewing training, and other programs that will go on at the school to further the gospel and minister to the people.
Other benefits: The people will have their greatest need met, access to clean water. The people will be healthier, they will be able to practice basic hygiene which will also improve their health and well-being. The school will have ready access to clean water. The physical toil and related physical injury people suffer from carrying water will be greatly reduced. Children will be able to attend school all day vs. going to fetch water all day. Greater community outreach is made possible as people will come to collect water and attend Bible studies and other trainings. The people will see the love of God for them, they will see that they are not forgotten.
This will be a complex project. Your funds will provide a deep borehole well with an electric pump and a water storage tower. This well will be transformational for the community and the people will see the love of Jesus.
All projects are made possible by World Changers.