There are tow significant issues in the DR Congo: Water and Unemployment. This blog entry concerns water. We will do an employment blog later.
(blog note: there are many pictures to download, but each picture is taking about 15 minutes to load, and it is now 10:35pm Congo time, and I have to get to bed. I will download more pictures in am. Plus, a wild storm just blew in with wind lightning, thunder, and rain. This means we will loose electricity any minute and internet. So see you in the morning)
Approximately 85% of Congolese are without clean water. By clean water we mean drinkable water. There is water available, but it is mainly unsafe, unclean, and carries all sorts of water borne pathogens. Most commonly, typhoid, diarrhea, worms, cysts, etc. Most villages, towns, and cities experience disease and death due to the water. We talked with people today who expressed that their families are sick, their children dying because of the water.
The Church has a clean water initiative which is saving lives and lessoning the burdens of hundreds of thousands of people. The most notable project in Luputa now services over 250,000 people who have moved to be close to this amazing water source.
The subterranean water level is fairly shallow perhaps 9 meters. This means that wells can be dug and pumps established to bring sufficient amounts of water to supply large communities. Also, there are clear water springs throughout the country. Water can be captured and pumped.
One clean water team was at Luputa recently, when a mother approached them with tears saying that the children of the village were now safe, they were not sick, they did not die, and that she was so grateful for their kindness and humanitarian spirit.
Our story begins last week. The Bingham's from Eureka, California, are the Humanitarian - Clean Water Couple. They were travelling to look at potential water projects along a very crowded highway (most highways are crowded with cars and people). They hit a traffic jam (again not at all uncommon). There are street vendors, people who walk between cars selling things, there are street beggars who walk between cars begging, and then there are those who are just looking for unlocked doors so they can reach in and steal things. We always keep our doors and windows closed and locked. Out of the blue, a little man dressed in a white shirt and tie, jumped in front of their car, waving at them. He approached the driver's window. They thought he was probably just someone else trying to sell or steal something. He pointed to their missionary badges and held up a presentation. They saw that is was a water project. So, they pulled over to talk with him. He explained that he had been looking for them, that he had walked into town (about 25 miles) to see them last week, but they were not in the office. This week he decided to try again, and to his amazement, he saw them stuck in traffic. They took his proposal, and placed in on the stack of others pilling their desk. Then, a week later, he appeared in their office. For him to get into their office was somewhat of a miracle. He got through a gate guard, a key pad door, several other check points, and into their office. He simply said, "have you read my proposal?" They had not. They sought one of the translators in the office and looked at his proposal. It was neatly typed, well prepared, well thought out, and with a lower price tag than others they had reviewed. They were touched by this man, touched by his plan, touched by the Spirit. So, today, we went with them to see his proposed project.
We met with village chiefs and reviewed the areas. We visited six potential well sites, saw amazing people, and things.
We visited one clean water pumping area where people stood in line to get fresh water. It was a blessing to them to have clean water. The chief expressed that that was not nearly enough to serve the thousands of people near by who were without clean water.
Typically, women and children will walk up to 10 miles each way, wait in lines for hours to access clean water.
In the attached pictures you will see the lines of people at the clean water site, women and children carrying heavy water containers on their heads from dirty water areas to have water with which to cook, clean, and bathe. You will see women washing cloths in dirty water streams, people carrying water to their homes. Chief and village council meetings where we discussed clean water projects. Children and families who are in the area that is being considered. We even threw in some coconut and papaya trees. And pictures of the roadside markets, and roadways. Even some of the crowed areas we passed through.
We have talked about Cassava before it is a plant that provides the mainstay of the Congolese diet. They take the leaves and grind them up to make a pasty kind of stuff which the eat, and they grind the root up to make a meal or flour with which they make breads etc. We came upon a woman who was grinding cassava leaves on her front porch and was happy to let us take a picture of her.
The Binghams are writing up a proposal for the project and submitting it to Salt Lake City for approval.
We were deeply touched by the spirit and plight of the people we visited.