Sunday, April 24, 2011


It is the children that are most effected by the lack of clean water.

Waterborne pathogens cause many deaths among children.

We met with tribal chiefs. Sitting at the rear right corner is the chief of this village. We put the tribal council in the back of the pick up and headed out to see prospective water well sites. The man standing in the rear of the truck, wearing the white shirt and tie, is the man who found the Humanitarian Aid Couple and presented the projects.

The little man with Suzanne owns the property where one well is proposed. He wanted to show that Suzanne was not the shortest person in the Congo. He was very excited to have the well on his land.

The family in the picture volunteered their property for another well site. We took the picture in their kitchen. They cook out of doors on charcoal pits. They have no electricity, no running water, and this is their kitchen. They were happy and friendly. They asked for the blessing of clean water near them. The mother and children walk several miles and wait in long lines, sometimes for hours to get unclean water. We told them that if the well was built on their property that they would have lines of people collecting water on their front "lawn" most of the day. They said it would be worth it for their people to have clean water.

A small charge is assessed for water. Each person pays about 20 cents for their daily water. The money goes into a fund to repair and improve the site and equipment. The pumps may break, etc.

Digging The Wells
Most wells are hand dug. One worker starts digging, when he reaches 3 meters, a 3 meeter in diameter cylinder is placed in the hole, the next worker digs three meters, and another cylinder (pipe) is placed in the hole, this continues until they are at least 12 meters deep and have 3 meters of standing water.

I asked, if it is that simple, why don't they have hundreds of wells. The answer was, money. It cost a couple of thousand dollars for the pump, plus the tower, the cement to create gathering stations, etc. They just don't have the money. Also, there is some engineering and common practices that make a good well. At a couple of the sites, the tribe leadership wanted to put the wells in locations where water rain run-off would contaminate the well, or too close to the latrines.

Henry David Thoreau said at Walden Pond, "the necessaries of life can easily enough be put into the several headings of food, fuel, shelter, and clothing. Only then can a man entertain the true problems of life with an attitude of hope and a prospect of success."

Finding clean water is one of the steps to necessaries of life, and provides the hope to entertain the other prospects of life.


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