Special Features

The long path to clean water

In eastern Uganda, a community is still reeling from the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency more than a decade ago. Children must walk a long way for dirty water while parents are still walking an emotional path of healing. Through it all, access to clean water would help everyone heal and have a fuller life.

Grace, 5, walks about 6 kilomters every day to help provide dirty water for her family to use for drinking, washing, and cooking. She often misses school because it takes so much of her time. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Grace, 5, walks about 6 kilomters every day to help provide dirty water for her family to use for drinking, washing, and cooking. She often misses school because it takes so much of her time. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

At daybreak, Asamo Grace’s tiny 5-year-old feet swiftly carry her along the narrow dirt path. She softly hums her ABC’s as butterflies flutter before her and crickets chirp in the dry grasses she brushes past. As the Ugandan sun begins its day’s journey across the bright blue sky, Grace begins her journey for water.

In Morungatuny, Uganda, 5-year-old Grace and 3-year-old Judith start and end their day with walking to gather water for their family. Judith often struggles to keep up with her older sister and has trouble carrying her 1-liter water can. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
In Morungatuny, Uganda, 5-year-old Grace and 3-year-old Judith start and end their day with walking to gather water for their family. Judith often struggles to keep up with her older sister and has trouble carrying her 1-liter water can. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Grace’s little sister, Asimo Judith, who’s a month shy of her third birthday, scampers behind, struggling to keep up as they make their way through the high grasses that stand far taller than both girls.

Judith, Grace's little sister, holds a plastic cup of water. The girls drink dirty water every day, and it often makes them sick. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Judith, Grace’s little sister, holds a plastic cup of water. The girls drink dirty water every day, and it often makes them sick. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

But unlike so many people who begin their day with morning exercise, this 1.75-mile walk in Morungatuny, Uganda, isn’t for fun or to take in the beauty of a peaceful morning. It’s out of necessity — Grace and Judith are making the day’s first trek to get water for their family.

With the nearest borehole about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) away, the journey for clean water is more than 7 miles round trip. So the family instead settles for contaminated swamp water that’s half that distance — about 2.8 kilometers (1.75 miles)  —  away.

Grace and Judith must make their daily trek so the family can survive, and struggling for survival is what this community is accustomed to.

Grace, right, and Judith, left, scoop water from a dirty swamp, which serves as their family's main water source. They make at least two treks a day for water, Grace carrying a 3-liter can, and Judith carrying a 1-liter can. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Grace, right, and Judith, left, scoop water from a dirty swamp, which serves as their family’s main water source. They make at least two treks a day — about 6 kilometers in total — for water. Grace carries a 3-liter can, and Judith carries a 1-liter can. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

A wounded community

Life was already challenging for the people of Morungatuny, but in June 2002, their world became downright terrifying when Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group operating in Uganda and neighboring countries, moved into the area. The LRA launched its insurgency in 1987, aiming to create a new government based on a twisted interpretation of the Ten Commandments. Over the years, the LRA abducted tens of thousands of children, forcing them to fight or marry its soldiers, who murdered, raped, and destroyed.

A former child soldier attended a World Vision rehab center in Gulu, northern Uganda. World Vision's center helped children heal from the trauma they experienced as forced soldiers. (©2005 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
A former child soldier attended a World Vision rehab center in Gulu, northern Uganda. World Vision’s center helped children heal from the trauma they experienced as forced soldiers in the Lord’s Resistance Army. (©2005 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Auma Mary Margaret, 55, is a local official in Morungatuny. She remembers the horror.

“We rely on cows, which were being eaten by the rebels,” Mary Margaret says. “Food eaten. Houses burned. Most of the schools were destroyed. You couldn’t remain at your home alone.”

To protect people during the insurgency, the Ugandan government created camps for families while it fought the LRA. Borehole wells were installed at the camps, but there was little access to food. Children cried in anguish as they starved. As the calendar changed to 2003, the death toll rose, and desperation drove parents to take bold, dangerous risks.

I was arrested and badly beaten, almost to the point of death. —Joseph

Grace’s parents made the perilous trek home to their farm to gather food, but as they harvested cassava, LRA soldiers found them. “I was arrested and badly beaten, almost to the point of death,” says Joseph, 35.

A family seeks shelter from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Gulu, northern Uganda. The LRA terrorized families throughout the region. (©2005 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
A family seeks shelter from the Lord’s Resistance Army in Gulu, northern Uganda. The LRA terrorized families throughout the region. (©2005 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Soldiers tortured him for six hours. He’s never fully recovered from his injuries due to the lack of medical care in the community. His wife, pregnant at the time, also suffered. “When we were arrested, they separated us, so she was taken in a different direction. I was tortured, and she was tortured.”

The extent of her injuries suggests the worst. “She poured blood,” Joseph says. They lost their baby.

As the government cleared the area, families returned home. Joseph and his wife had more children, including Grace and Judith, but because of their emotional and physical pains, problems arose in their marriage. Joseph’s wife left home two years ago and has failed to return.

Their story isn’t unique. Many people in the community recount terrible events.

People are still traumatized. —Patience

“People are still traumatized,” says Abugo Patience, senior secretary in Morungatuny’s government.

While it’s been more than a decade since the area was under immediate threat from the LRA, the fear hasn’t faded. If Joseph hears a gunshot, it takes him back. He says, “You begin standing [close] with your children, and you get suspicious. You’re peeping around, but you don’t want to get out of the home. At night, you can’t sleep because you think it’s another attack.”

When he can sleep, his slumber is often ruined by torturous nightmares.

Grace's father, Alia Joseph, 35, still carries emotional and physical pain from being tortured by the Lord's Resistance Army. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Grace’s father, Alia Joseph, 35, still carries emotional and physical pain from being tortured by the Lord’s Resistance Army. The LRA occupied Morungatuny for a few years in the early 2000s and destroyed much of the buildings and crops as well as beat and tortured people. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

“There are moments in dreams that the soldiers and rebels have again come, and when I dream, I get up and find my body very painful. I feel as if it’s a fresh wound,” Joseph says. The dreams emotionally rip open the wounds so desperate to heal.

Wanting to move forward, Joseph eventually remarried and clings to his faith to help him lead his family. He says, “I have a family that has survived, by the grace of God, and we have our hope in God.”

Water struggles

After a shaky peace deal was established in 2006, people began returning home. But they faced a water problem. The boreholes drilled during the war were by the camps, which weren’t close to people’s normal homes. Aluka Elizabeth, the area program manager for World Vision in Morungatuny, says there are 37 borehole wells across the larger district — but only 20 are functional.

There are only a few operating boreholes in Morungatuny area, remnants of displaced people camps that the government set up in the early 2000s as places of refuge from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The wells are far from family homes and often require many hours of walking and then waiting. Many, like this one, often break. World Vision has plans for water systems that will be closer to people's homes and that will be reliably run by trained water committees. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
There are only a few operating boreholes in the Morungatuny area — remnants of displaced people camps that the government set up in the early 2000s as places of refuge from the Lord’s Resistance Army. The wells are far from family homes and often require many hours of walking and then waiting. Many, like this one, often break. World Vision has plans for water systems that will be closer to people’s homes and that will be reliably run by trained water committees. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

“The others got spoiled,” she says. “All of these were put in by the government and local partners
during the insurgency to manage the larger populations in the camp. At that time, World Vision was 
not there.”

Patience, 25, says clean water in the district is accessible — within 1 kilometer — for about an abysmal 20 percent of people.

People in the developing world walk an average of 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) a day for water. In Morungatuny, if people want to access clean water, the only reliable borehole is about 6 kilometers one way. Joseph says it can take between 90 minutes and two hours to walk that distance.

Every borehole serves more than 850 people, which makes them incredibly crowded. Joseph says, “Then when you get to the water source, you can take two or three hours” because the line is so long, as it serves six communities.

A two-hour walk from Grace’s home is a government borehole serving 850 people with wait times up to three hours. The borehole was installed during the Lord's Resistance Army insurgency. Instead of spending all day fetching clean water at this borehole, Grace’s family reluctantly opts for the contaminated swamp water closer to home. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
A two-hour walk from Grace’s home is a government borehole serving 850 people with wait times up to three hours. The borehole was installed during the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency. Instead of spending all day fetching clean water at this borehole, Grace’s family reluctantly opts for the contaminated swamp water closer to home. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Even if families wanted to endure the walk and wait, the fields often flood and cut off access during the rainy season.

So many families, like Grace’s, opt for the shorter walk to the dirty swamp. But that creates a host of other challenges.

Safety struggles

Tall grasses more than twice as high as Grace’s tiny frame overhang the path she takes to get water. There are noises and rustlings aplenty — goats, cows, and pigs roaming; men zooming by on bicycles; and other women and children also walking for water.

Grace often gets tired and sore from carrying water about 6 kilometers every day. She also suffers from kidney problems because her family can’t afford the treatment. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Grace often gets tired and sore from carrying water about 6 kilometers every day. She also suffers from kidney problems because her family can’t afford the treatment. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Together, the sounds create a kind of symphony. But not all the sounds are innocent. One of the biggest concerns for children like Grace is safety. Her long walk is fraught with opportunities to get hurt or for others to hurt her.
 In 2016, a child in a neighboring community was kidnapped while walking for water.

Grace, 5, carries a 3-liter jug of dirty swamp water to her home. Her journey can be dangerous because of kidnappings and assault as well as simply many chances to trip and fall and hurt herself. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Grace, 5, carries a 3-liter jug of dirty swamp water to her home. Her journey can be dangerous because of kidnappings and assault as well as simply many chances to trip and fall and hurt herself. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

“It frightens me moving alone along that long, bushy road,” Grace says, her voice barely audible. “I fear kidnappers — they use sacks and put the sack on your head.”

I fear kidnappers — they use sacks and put the sack on your head. —Grace

Sexual assault and broken bones from falling are also a risk. But safety isn’t only an issue for children. In a community with such deep emotional wounds, tempers can be short. Often husbands will accuse their wives of infidelity because they’re suspicious of how long the women are gone for water.

“The issue of water is causing domestic violence,” Patience says.

Education struggles

When Grace arrives late at her school, St. Mika, she stands nervously outside, reluctant to burst under the thatched-roof structure to join her classmates. Sometimes administrators and teachers scold or even beat her for being late.

Grace stands outside her classroom at St. Mika school, in Morungatuny, Uganda, anxious about entering because she is late from walking for water and may get in trouble or be ridiculed. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Grace stands outside her classroom at St. Mika school, in Morungatuny, Uganda, anxious about entering because she is late from walking for water and may get in trouble or be ridiculed. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

But today, her teacher, Acham Lucy, greets her with a smile and invites her to take her seat on the wooden bench.

Lucy Acham, Grace's teacher at St. Mika school in Morungatuny, Uganda, persuades Grace to come into class even though she is late because she was walking to gather water. Grace is often hesitant to join class late because students make fun of her and teacher scold her. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Lucy Acham, Grace’s teacher at St. Mika school in Morungatuny, Uganda, persuades Grace to come into class even though she is late because she was walking to gather water. Grace is often hesitant to join class late because students make fun of her and teachers scold her. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Lucy guides the students in learning their ABC’s, numbers, and types of transportation, and she ends their morning lessons with having them draw their teacher reading a book, which Grace pours herself into. She loves drawing pictures — on paper with pencil or in the dirt with chalk — as well as jumping rope, matching, and counting.

Grace, on the far left in her school uniform, loves to draw and count and dreams of becoming a nurse, but she is about two years behind in her studies because she misses so much school due to how long it takes to get water each day. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Grace, on the far left in her school uniform, loves to draw and count and dreams of becoming a nurse, but she is about two years behind in her studies because she misses so much school due to how long it takes to get water each day. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Grace enjoys school, but to make it to class, which starts at 8 a.m., she must hurry to get water in the morning. She’s often as much as an hour late — and sometimes she may simply not go at all. During the rainy season, she misses about 10 days a month. But during the dry season, when she must walk much farther for water, her grandmother Selina estimates that Grace misses 80 percent of her classes. And sometimes, she may miss class simply because her family can’t afford her exam fees or supplies.

Because she’s missed so many classes, Grace is two years behind in her studies.
“Her performance is poor because she comes late,” Lucy says. “She has to catch up. Sometimes she can’t finish the week with coming to school. She can perform better when she attends every day and is on time too.”

Classmates often ridicule Grace for being late and behind in her studies. She says, “They laugh at me all day.”

But tardiness and absences are problems throughout Morungatuny. Many schools had to be rebuilt following the insurgency. Eloagu Julius, the school founder and a teacher, says the school started four years ago with 168 children. Today, the school has only 109 students, and of those, only 30 had arrived on time that day — a tally that isn’t unusual.

Lucy Acham teaches Grace, far right, and her classmates. There are two levels of preschool and a kindergarten equivalent level all in this class. Grace should be in the kindergarten level, but because she misses so much school, she's at the first preschool level. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Lucy Acham teaches Grace, far right, and her classmates. There are two levels of preschool and a kindergarten equivalent level all in this class. Grace should be in the kindergarten level, but because she misses so much school, she’s at the first preschool level. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

“Children [can] come to school more easily when there is a water source nearby,” Julius says. “It encourages children to run and have happiness.”

Grace longs to become a nurse. She says, “I want to inject the children and be a vaccinator so they can get healed and not have diarrhea and polio.” But she’ll need a solid education to make that happen. She also needs the proper supplies to study. Selina laments that often the children cry because they don’t have notebooks and schoolbooks to do their assignments.

Grace dreams of becoming a nurse so she can help vaccinate children against diseases. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Grace dreams of becoming a nurse so she can help vaccinate children against diseases. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Joseph prays. “My dream, and I’m praying by the grace of God, that he gives them life, and I want my children to study,” he says. “I want one to become a doctor, one an engineer, one a police person, one a carpenter, and one to become a teacher.”

Patience thinks more families in Morungatuny would be able to have such dreams and see them become reality if the community had closer access to clean water. She says, “If water was brought nearer, a child would be at school — the child might not have to go get water.”

World Vision Area Program Manager Elizabeth Aluka, jumps rope with children at Grace's school in Morungatuny. Elizabeth wove the rope in just a few minutes from nearby grasses, just as she did as a child growing up in a nearby area.(©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
World Vision Area Program Manager Elizabeth Aluka, jumps rope with children at Grace’s school in Morungatuny. Elizabeth wove the rope in just a few minutes from nearby grasses, just as she did as a child growing up in a nearby area.(©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Health struggles

At home, Grace seems tired and may be developing a fever. Judith runs around, her tiny body carrying a far heavier-than-normal belly.

“Judith has a problem — she continuously falls sick,” Selina says. She’s had tests done. “They keep telling me she has a high fever and stomach pain, and they tell me it’s malaria.”

Grace and Judith wash their dirty feet and legs from a basin at their home after gathering water. The girls walk about 6 kilometers every day to gather dirty water. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Grace and Judith wash their dirty feet and legs from a basin at their home after gathering water. The girls walk about 6 kilometers every day to gather dirty water. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

She’ll receive a health evaluation soon, but the diagnosis could also be worms, which Grace has been treated for in the past. Grace and Selina have also had typhoid, and the whole family — particularly the children — consistently gets diarrhea.

“It can be frequent,” Selina says, “especially during the wet season and when they go [for water] after the animals have drunk.”

Judith, nearly 3, naps at her grandmother’s feet, exhausted after walking for water in the afternoon heat. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Judith, nearly 3, naps at her grandmother’s feet, exhausted after walking for water in the afternoon heat. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

She says the children are all constantly sick. “Every time they use the water from the swamp, there are complaints of stomach problems and headaches,” Joseph adds. Grace has been diagnosed with kidney problems, but proper medical treatment is not available in their community.

The water also creates itchy and painful sores that leave scars. Grace has some on her legs that she says hurt when she walks for water. It’s only one of the pains for her young body. She says she also gets tired and her head and neck hurt from carrying the water “because it’s long, and I don’t rest on the way.”

Many of the women and children in the community have a form of dermatitis that causes itchy, circular sores all over their bodies, like Abido Merab, 5, has on the side of her face. Grace has smaller sores on her legs. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Many of the women and children in the community have a form of dermatitis that causes itchy, circular sores all over their bodies, like Abido Merab, 5, has on the side of her face. Grace has smaller sores on her legs. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

The distance to the health centers also compounds the water issues. The dirt roads to get there are bumpy, filled with holes, and in some places, only wide enough for a bike — which all make it challenging for families to transport their children.

Okello Emmanuel, 40, is part of the village health team, which serves as the first line of treatment for people in the community. He says, “There are long distances to access the health service facilities. Some parents can’t get to these, so they reach them when they’re already at an emergency level.”

Even if they do make it to the local clinic, there are other difficulties. Ojulong Aaron, the clinic officer for Morungatuny Health Center III, has a sink at the clinic that doesn’t produce anything.

“There’s no running water,” he says. “We [only] get water from the rain, so we can’t wash our hands.”

People wait for help at the health clinic in Morungatuny, Uganda. The clinic has no running water for washing hands or treating patients, instead relying on the rain. The clinic has just seven staff members to serve about 1,200 people a month and often lacks the tests and supplies it needs to properly treat people. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
People wait for help at the health clinic in Morungatuny, Uganda. The clinic has no running water for washing hands or treating patients, instead relying on the rain. The clinic has just seven staff members to serve about 1,200 people a month and often lacks the tests and supplies it needs to properly treat people. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Aaron has a staff of only seven who see more than 1,200 people a month. He says malaria is the number one disease for the children. The clinic staff also handle many cases of diarrhea, typhoid, and dermatitis from the dirty water, as well as people needing psychosocial support after the LRA insurgency. He says that nationally, about 20 percent of people get diarrhea. The local rate is barely above that at 22 percent, and he hopes to decrease that number.

He says the other major challenge is a shortage of medicine and tests. “Without the test, you can’t get the treatment,” Aaron says. “Sometimes we’re blindly treating.”

A mother and her child wait for help at the crowded Morungatuny clinic. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
A mother and her child wait for help at the crowded Morungatuny clinic. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

But families often can’t afford treatment elsewhere. “You have poverty rates so high, and you tell someone to buy something to clear up a rash; where would they get the money for that?” Patience says. “If they go to the health unit and find there is no medicine, the only solution is to buy from the private drugstores, which are very expensive.” So it becomes a choice between medicine and food.

That’s why Joseph continues to have problems from injuries he sustained during the terrible beating, and it’s why his children have persistent health problems. “When any of the children fall sick, I’m not able to raise enough funds to get a full treatment,” he says. “Our little Grace has a problem with the stomach and has pain in her kidneys and pelvic area.”

Aaron says additional funding would help provide tests and medicine for proper treatment. But prevention is better than treatment, so having access to safe water close to home would change everything.

Joseph sees how clean water would give his family better health, and he says World Vision can help.

“Sponsorship can help Grace get that treatment.”

Financial struggles

With so little money to support his family, Joseph struggles to pay all the costs involved with his children’s educations, which in total cost about 990,000 schillings a year (about US$278). But what pains him more is that he can’t afford the medicine his children desperately need when they’re sickened by dirty water.

He feels these strains, but the lingering effects of his injuries prevent him from farming more crops to sell at the market. “I can’t do a big plot that would bring a lot of food for my home,” he says. “My waist gets tired. I desire to do work like any other, but my energy [isn’t enough].”

Grace's grandmother, Ariso Selina, is in her 50s and suffers from a lot of physical pain. She relies on the children to help her with chores at the house and with gathering water. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Grace’s grandmother, Ariso Selina, is in her 50s and suffers from a lot of physical pain. She relies on the children to help her with chores at the house and with gathering water.
(©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Stomach pains, cysts, and ulcers slow Selina down when farming, so she struggles to keep up, saying, “The children are my hands of work.”

Grace's chores include helping her grandmother, Selina, wash dishes, sweep, and maintain their home. Even though she is only 5, Grace is already aware of all the chores that must be done each day. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Grace’s chores include helping her grandmother, Selina, wash dishes, sweep, and maintain their home. Even though she is only 5, Grace is already aware of all the chores that must be done each day. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

And without water close by, Joseph can’t water his crops, so they don’t flourish. Instead, he’s forced to depend on the rain — which is no longer reliable. “The rains are very unpredictable nowadays,” Patience says. “We used to have two rainy seasons and one dry season, and now we can’t predict how many seasons we’ll have in one year. … You can’t really say, ‘Let me plant this at this time.’”

By early November, Joseph’s chili pepper crops had already shriveled. He dreams of someday having resources to help him farm more productively.

“If we had a near water source, we could maybe do irrigation or draw water for our crops,” he says. “We would be able to do short-term rotating with crops like cabbages, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. All those crops have market during the dry season because they’re not available.”

Grace loves to draw, whether it's on paper or in the dirt with chalk. Here she draws a woman wearing a skirt. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Grace loves to draw, whether it’s on paper or in the dirt with chalk. Here she draws a woman wearing a skirt. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Solutions

With water the source of so many problems in Morungatuny, both the government and World Vision are working toward solutions.

“The priority is mostly water because without water, you don’t have life,” Patience says of the government’s efforts. “But the resources we have are very meager.”

Elizabeth Aluka, area program manager in Morungatuny, Uganda, has an intimate talk with Grace (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Elizabeth Aluka, area program manager in Morungatuny, Uganda, has an intimate talk with Grace (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

She says the government is able to rehabilitate one borehole a year. It would take 17 years to fix what already exists, let alone build new wells or fix more. Over the last four years, World Vision has installed four borehole wells in the district and trained community leaders on how to maintain the wells.

“World Vision plays a big role because it does almost everything a government is supposed to do,” Patience says. “It’s helped us with livelihood, agriculture, sponsorship, education. The pit latrines they’ve given us are improving the sanitation in the schools. It has also drilled boreholes. It encourages us and trains us on other issues that are related. The community is empowered.”

She says the evidence of that empowerment is visible throughout other communities in the district where World Vision hasn’t yet worked, but where the principles it teaches are already being applied. Patience says it “shows that people have really learned something” when you see practices and programs being shared by word of mouth.

Mary Margaret sees change in the community as well as a correlation between clean water and recovery. “We’re grateful to World Vision for the healing we have seen,” she says. “We have some boreholes.

It’s not enough, but we have some — we are lucky. The relationship is so good. They are helping.”

Elizabeth Aluka walks with Grace, left, and Judith, right. In Morungatuny, Uganda, the girls start and end their day with walking to gather water for their family. It’s about 6 kilometers of walking every day for them. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Elizabeth Aluka walks with Grace, left, and Judith, right. In Morungatuny, Uganda, the girls start and end their day with walking to gather water for their family. It’s about 6 kilometers of walking every day for them. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

World Vision is working with the community to install three boreholes in the area in the year ahead. Paul Oiesigye, a water engineer for World Vision in Uganda’s eastern region, says drilling for shallow wells in the area has been challenging.

“You have to drill and go deep to get water,” he says. “In some areas, you’re really limited by the underground water situation.”

Elizabeth noted that some of the borehole wells run dry faster than expected. World Vision wants to install a mechanized system. Paul says, “A solar-powered, motorized water system is cost-effective. They use a generator or a grid. The only challenge is in the initial investment of buying the solar panels. After the initial investment, the people are able to manage that system.”

A project like this can help about 20,000 people, in comparison to 900 served by a regular borehole.

The first priority is the health centers, says Paul: “We need to ensure the health centers are equipped with continuous water year-round. We can’t mainly rely on rainwater.”

Elizabeth says that if World Vision can drill 13 boreholes, they can reduce the local walk for water to around 3 kilometers. With 20 boreholes, the distance will drop to 1.5 kilometers — significant progress toward reaching the ideal 1-kilometer threshold. She says, “We will be very intentional,” when World Vision plans the well locations with the community.

Elizabeth Aluka, a local World Vision manager, talks with Grace, on her lap, while Judith watches. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Elizabeth Aluka, a local World Vision manager, talks with Grace, on her lap, while Judith watches. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Even though Joseph still struggles with pain and Grace and Judith are still walking a long path for water, the family is hopeful. As they attend church every week, Joseph encourages his children to seek God in the midst of their burdens.

God will remove this wound of pain. —Joseph

“I use the Bible and tell them the living testimonies of our home based on the trials the family is going through,” he says. “Every challenge we go through, I share with them and encourage them every Sunday to go for prayers, and when they go, they shouldn’t just be going to church; they should pray, repent of anything the family has done to God, pray for God to forgive them, and pray for God to open a way for them. God will remove this wound of pain.”

Grace and her family sit at their home. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Grace and her family sit at their home. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

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