In the developing world, the process of gathering water can seem like something out of a scary movie — a journey fraught with danger, uncertainty, and terrifying obstacles.
When I’m thirsty, I don’t think about how I’m going to get water. I just walk over to the sink or water cooler and fill up my glass. It’s as easy and habitual as breathing.
But for thousands of children around the world, the road to water is anything but simple.
Before a clean-water well was provided to the people of Bulembo, Uganda, women and children faced danger every day.
And even if they survived the journey, the end result was still dirty, disease-filled water.
But today, clean water is changing that. Clean water saved lives in Bulembo. Here’s how:
1. Removed the fear of walking to gather water
The village’s only water source was Lake Kyoga — four miles away. Women and children faced the danger of attack or harassment as they made the long walk each day.
Sam Musoga, 41, said his life has been greatly changed by the new well in Bulembo. Before, his wife and children would spend hours traveling to the lake, and he had no way of knowing if they were safe until they returned home.
Today, he knows they are no longer at risk when they gather water.
2. Eliminated the danger of snake bites
In order to fill their buckets in the lake, women and children had to wade past the water hyacinth, an invasive aquatic plant near the shore.
While navigating the tangled underwater web of vines and stems, children had to keep and eye out for snakes lurking among the leaves. Clean water now means children are no longer at risk of being bitten miles away from home and medical help.
3. Eradicated the possibility of drowning
The danger of drowning was another major concern for parents like Sam. Children could easily get tangled in the vines of the water hyacinth or get caught by the current when they waded out into deeper waters.
“My wife and children had to wade in the lake to clear waters without the hyacinth,” Sam said. “My children could easily drown! But now I bless the Lord that the well is so near. I am no longer worried that they would drown. To God be the glory.”
4. Ended exposure to water-borne diseases
In addition to being Bulembo’s only water source, Lake Kyoga is used as a waste dump by many of the surrounding villages. Animals also frequently bathe in the water, making it unsanitary and dangerous to drink.
Children and women were at risk of getting parasites every time they waded into the dirty waters. And the lake was a health and safety risk to every person within the Bulembo community.
But access to clean water changed everything.
Today, children no longer have to walk four miles alone. They aren’t at risk of attack or rape. Women don’t have to navigate the tangled water plants or watch out for snakes. Sam’s children are safe from drowning, parasites, and waterborne disease.
Because of clean water, their lives have been transformed.
“The well provides fresh, clean water that is safe for me to drink and safe for my children to fetch. I am no longer worried for my children that they will fall ill because of the water,” another member of the community said.
So today, as you get a glass of water, pause for a moment and pray for the thousands of women and children around the world who face danger every day doing just that.
Journeying for water isn’t something we often think about — let’s make it that way for other families, too.