Visiting a Living Water Well: A boardmember's first hand account

Caroline Cormack is a Board Member for Living Water. She traveled to Zambia in the summers of 2010 and 2013 to work as a clinical supervisor with Harding University's Speech Pathology group (HIZPATH).  During her time there in 2010, she made contacts (Ellie Hamby and Shadreck Sibwaalu) for building wells in Zambia.  The Living Water Project was able to build 3 wells in Zamba in 2012.  In the summer of 2013, Caroline returned to Zambia and was blessed with the opportunity to travel with Shadreck to see one of the wells built. Here is her account of that day.  During my last week in Zambia, Shadreck contacted me about taking me to see one of the wells that the Living Water Project funded.  I eagerly said yes, and off we set one morning to drive in the middle of nowhere to see wells.  Along the drive, I asked Shadreck several questions about the water situation and well digging process in Zambia. Here is what he shared with me:

Zambia's weather has two extremes: The rainy season (from October to March) and the dry season (from April to September).  This plays a huge part into the water supply and the digging of wells. The villages dig shallow wells from December to July. Those shallow wells dry up late July. Then they must travel 20-30 kilometers for the nearest clean water source, which is government wells in other villages.  Shadreck said the best time to drill is early July through late September. Drilling is not possible during the rainy season. Shadreck has gone around Zambia to identify villages in need.  He has identified  24 remaining villages in need who currently have to travel at least 20 kilometers for the nearest government well.   The shallow wells, or essentially mud puddles that the villages drink from, carry the disease of bilhazia. It is common for people to die from this.  He said the government will help with medicine to treat bilhazia but haven't yet built clean wells in all areas. The Gwanganzu village that we visited that day stated they have had no deaths from water related issues since the well was built!  The typical well usage for a medium sized community (500) is 2400 L per day. They are now using it to grow fresh vegetables for the community as well! 

After our three hour drive, we arrived at the community of Gwanganzu.  I don't know what I was expecting, but it was not this.


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In my first world mind, I was expecting a huge well, like that in an old Pioneer movie with a wicker basket to lower down.  I knew it was a hand pump well, I knew it was Africa, but I still had romanticized the thought in my mind.  So naturally I said to Shadreck, "Where is it?" And he smiled and said, "Right there!" And I said "Where are the people?" And he graciously explained to me that this well services a combination of several villages, including villages over the mountains you see in the above pictures.  The surrounding communities have formed a "Well Committee." They are responsible for making sure that everything is kept up to date and clean. When the well is built, Shadreck locks the hand pump until the committee has taken the proper steps to educate the village on well usage and has built a fence around the well to keep out livestock.  In fact, that day when the first committee member arrived, Shadreck immediately told him that they needed to build a tighter fence to keep out the livestock and wild animals.

As the people of Gwanganzu began to arrive, one thing became very apparent.  I was the first Makuwa (white person) many of them had ever seen, especially for the children.  They were intrigued by my obvious paleness, given I am whiter than most white people.  They took full liberty to touch me, poke me, pinch me, and tried to "rub" the white off my skin.   I have spent a lot of time in various third world countries, but for some reason, this moment was more impactful to my life than even the first time I was exposed to true poverty. These precious children were fascinated with me because I don't exist in their world. Their world is bare feet, living in mud huts, no media, and until recently no given clean source of water.  My world would be absolutely unimaginable to them, in which people never go hungry, expect clean water anywhere they go, and never have to do without shoes.  Yet they were so joyful, so happy, and felt so blessed for having a well.  Because, you see, before the well was built, this was their reality. This was their water source.






And so we spent 3 hours with the community.  People came to thank Living Water for the well.  I was able to pump water for some of the village people, which they thought was hilarious.  I even got a tour of the amazing garden and the irrigation system put into place for that. IMG_7626





At the end of our visit, Shadreck gathered the village and they spoke a heart felt thank you to Living Water.  I reminded them that our being there and the presence of the well was all because of the mighty God that we serve.  I then got a picture with the Well Committee and we were on our way.


It was an amazing day.   The Living Water Project has since chosen to fund 7 more wells in Zambia, per Shadreck's list of the most needed areas. Amongst the areas given, the people have the following current water sources: dams, ponds, rivers, and shallow wells. Most are shared with livestock.   We received word last week that 5 of the 7 wells have been completed, and the remaining two will be completed after the rainy season!  We will be posting pictures of the new Zambian wells soon.  Thank you to all who are contributors to this great need. I will leave you with pictures of some of the precious faces who are benefiting from the clean wells in Gwanganzu.