Emmanuel, 20, sponsored through World Vision, says that clean water changes everything.
Read how World Vision’s water and sanitation programs in Ghana have transformed Emmanuel’s community and how they are the cause of new celebrations.
Emmanuel is a finance major in his freshman year at the University of Ghana in Accra. He’s a serious, soft-spoken young man and clearly intelligent. He’s a sharp dresser and fluent in French, English, and his local language. By every measure, Emmanuel has a very bright future.
But his life would have been much different without World Vision’s community development program and his child sponsors from the U.S.
Emmanuel grew up in a rural village in Ghana, where he gathered water from a small stream. His sponsorship meant that his grandmother could send him to school, and World Vision worked with his community to provide a new school and clean water. His sponsorship means so much to Emmanuel that he always keeps a Christmas card from his sponsors with him. He received it when he was 6 years old.
I’m traveling with Emmanuel in the Afram Plains. This is an arid region of Ghana, a long day’s journey from Accra. We cross Lake Volta by ferry and then travel over bumpy roads to the World Vision community where our staff lives, working to ensure community ownership of their water resources.
We’re here to visit some of the oldest World Vision water wells. This effort started in 1985. One of the motivators for providing clean drinking water in this area was the fact that it had very high rates of Guinea worm infections.
We visit one of the local government officials, the Honorable Ibrahim Issaka, district chief executive of Afram Plains South. He is passionate about the impact that World Vision has made in this area and recalls the time before World Vision came.
He tells me that Guinea worm infection was very high back then. I’m shocked when he pulls up his shirtsleeve to show me the place where a worm left his arm. The eggs of the Guinea worm enter your body through contaminated water, and then the larvae bury into your tissue and grow quietly until they’re ready to make a dramatic exit by crawling out of your skin.
This process is debilitating to the human host, and for Ibrahim, it meant his entire arm was swollen more than twice its normal size. He suffered, winding the head of the worm around a small stick and slowly pulling it out over two weeks. It was even worse for his sister, who had three worms and couldn’t walk for a month.
Ibrahim tells me World Vision will always be a friend to him and his community because of the provision of more than 1,300 water facilities in the Afram Plains. He tells us proudly that Guinea worm has been completely eradicated and the clean water and improved sanitation and hygiene have also drastically reduced trachoma and childhood deaths.
While traveling, we see that most people already have clean water in the region. The community engagement World Vision provides as part of our development model is the reason water continues to flow for decades. For every water resource, we establish a committee, of both women and men, and train local mechanics on how to maintain and repair the pumps. The communities charge households a small fee so there is money for parts to repair the pumps when they break down.
We meet with a water committee and see that they have kept detailed records of pump maintenance as well as records of collected fees.
This water well is the same age as Emmanuel. In seeing the actual birth date of the well, Emmanuel determines that he is the senior by three months. Both are going strong at 20.
World Vision has recently started to provide new wells in the area, and today we hope to witness the birth of a new water source. We get an urgent phone call from the drilling team, encouraging us to hurry.
We arrive in time. Hallelujah! There is water. The eruption of water causes us all to jump back. But some of the children get excited and run to the erupting water. I see that Emmanuel is excited as well. “Go ahead,” I encourage him, and he joins the celebration.
I’m amazed at how quickly the village elders gather to celebrate the new water source and to thank World Vision. The chief and his chairman make quite a team with their golden staff and fancy robes. The chief makes a speech that honors our team. He says, “The development of the Afram Plains cannot be celebrated without including World Vision.”
Emmanuel sums it up by telling me clean water changes everything. He’s enjoyed his visit to the Afram Plains but needs to return to Accra so he won’t miss any classes. He tells us he’s learned so much from the visit and will miss us. He doesn’t know where he’d be without the support he received from World Vision.
In parting, he tells me, “May God richly bless you and guide all your steps to bring joy to the heart of hopeless people.” I tell him that we’re very proud of him and to do well in school.
I know he will.
When World Vision drilling teams strike water, entire villages erupt in celebration! Be a part of that celebration: Donate a share of a deep well.