Exciting news from a boring project

Exciting news from a boring project

A borehole gave this community something more than health: it offered them a shot at unity. And by supporting BMS World Mission, you helped them find it.

The deadlock seemed hopeless. Two factions in the village in rural Uganda could not agree on where to dig a borehole, and their disagreement had gone on so long that the BMS team who had come to the village with a limited window for drilling (also called ‘boring’) were worried that they would have to leave without finding clean, healthy water – so essential for community health and flourishing in places like rural Uganda.

A team learning how to use the village drill to dig a borehole.
The BMS team visit rural villages and dig boreholes which provide clean water for whole communities.

BMS and local partners had arrived in the morning to consult with the community about where the borehole they had requested should be dug, and it had taken all day to come to an answer, one that half the village was less than pleased with. When the well failed to reach good water, BMS worker Tim Darby decided that it would be best to come back the following day, hoping for more agreement – otherwise he and the drilling team would have to move on to another village.

Watch how Tim’s team use a man-powered drill to dig a borehole.

Three Petri dishes containing bacteria from three water sources
A BMS-supported team ran tests on three local water sources: stream water, an existing borehole, and a borehole that they built. The right-hand dish contains water from the borehole and is completely clean.

The drilling project Tim helps to run is an innovative one, spending some of its time on commercial drilling (a kind of ‘business as mission’), which helps to fund the free well-boring that this village was so close to missing out on. They couldn’t stay in the village forever, as Uganda has a great deal of need for safe, clean drinking water.

When the team returned, they expected to find the community in much the same state as the day before. But instead, they found optimism, helpfulness. Unity. The village had met the night before and decided on a completely new drill site – miles away from the sites that had been in dispute. They told BMS water engineer Tim: “We knew that the other place would not work because we were not united. But now we know you will find water.” The team began digging in the morning, and they did! By the evening they had installed a handpump – a new record time for Tim and his team.

This is something that Tim sees regularly in his work: communities coming together over their collective need for clean water. Because when Tim and his team dig boreholes, they’re not just providing water. They’re encouraging people to live healthier lifestyles by making water easier to access. They’re protecting people from waterborne diseases such as cholera and E. coli. They’re freeing up time in the day for people, especially women and girls, who previously had to walk for hours every day to dirty water sources. And they’re doing it in a sustainable way, making the drills they operate pay, both for the good of the local environment and for the community. As Tim puts it: “Every single borehole changes and improves lives.”

This isn’t water as charity, pumped into a community that Tim thinks needs it. It’s a process of consultation with local people, asking them what they need and how they would like to receive it, engaging them and involving them so that communities, with a little help from BMS, can give themselves hope. Now that’s far from boring!

After this handpump was installed, a committee of nine people elected from the local community were trained for two days to manage the borehole. The rest of the community were also offered training on good sanitary health. They were taught how to keep the pump safe and clean, but also to care for and depend on one another to keep the borehole working.

Water is a basic need and a fundamental right. If we all work together, with respect and generosity, all people could have access to it. Pray with us today that this would happen.

People digging a borehole in Uganda.
The boreholes dug by Tim’s team encourage local communities to work together to maintain them.

Tim’s team have already provided many communities with clean water. But there are still people in Uganda and around the world whose water sources are limited or unsafe. Please pray today for:

  • Communities in Uganda without access to clean water. Pray for good health among them, and that they will soon be able to drink without danger.
  • Tim and his team as they bore wells for rural communities. Pray that their work goes smoothly, and that people will soon see the benefits.
  • Villages who have already received boreholes. Pray that they are able to safely maintain them in years to come, and that they will experience unity in their communities.

Words by Laura Durrant.

A tale of two villages

A tale of two villages:

providing clean water in Uganda

Disease, infection and chronic pain. All a result of drinking dirty water. For millions of people, unsafe water is all they have to drink. But thanks to your giving, boreholes in northern Uganda are providing clean water for hundreds of people, preventing illness and transforming communities.

Today, there are over 663 million people living without a safe water supply close to home, spending countless hours walking to distant sources, and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water. Everyone deserves access to clean water, but the problem is so large, it can seem difficult to know what to do, or how to fix it. When faced with an issue like this, the best way to tackle it is to start small, working in village after village, providing safe water and preventing disease until one day, everyone has access. And that’s exactly what BMS is doing.

Child pumping water out a water pump in northern Uganda
Thanks to you, this borehole is providing clean water to the community in Abwoch.

In Abwoch and Pajaa, two villages in the north of Uganda, people didn’t have access to a safe supply of water. The main borehole in Abwoch was contaminated, and in Pajaa the nearest clean source was a half an hour’s walk away – most families had to make two to five trips per day, spending up to five hours fetching the water they needed. Disease was rife, all because of bacteria in the water.

But thanks to your support, this is no longer the case. BMS has drilled a borehole in Abwoch, and another in Pajaa, providing over 350 people with clean water, free from bacteria and infection.

Three Petri dishes containing bacteria from three water sources
A BMS-supported team ran tests on three local water sources: stream water, an existing borehole, and a borehole that they built. The right-hand dish contains water from the borehole and is completely clean.

BMS environmental consultant Tim Darby gathered local leaders, church leaders and community members together in each village. They decided where the borehole would be built, and agreed to provide sand and gravel as resources to help construct it. The communities also agreed to provide accommodation, food, and water for the team drilling the hole and building the water pump.

In the space of seven days, the two boreholes were built, providing clean water for hundreds. A fence was built around each water pump, preventing animals from contaminating the supply.

The villagers were then taught hygiene skills, and elected a committee to help with maintenance and to ensure the water remained clean.

Both boreholes are free from bacteria, providing safe drinking water for the hundreds of people who use them. Charles Opiro, part of the borehole committee in Pajaa, says that people have not been sick from water-related diseases since the new water pump was built, as now they don’t have to drink water taken from puddles or dirty lakes.

A team learning how to use the village drill to dig a borehole.
The BMS team visit rural villages and dig boreholes which provide clean water for whole communities.

Having clean water is helping Pajaa community in other ways too. The boreholes are providing new economic opportunities for the community. Charles used the clean water to make bricks during the dry season, which he then sold to fund the school fees for his younger siblings. He’s also seen more women participate in the economy – his neighbour took her goods to sell at the market because she no longer had to spend such a long time collecting water.

Tim Darby, with his wife Linda and their two children, Annabelle and Elsa.
Tim Darby and his wife Linda, a BMS lawyer, live in Gulu in northern Uganda with their three children, Joshua, Annabelle and Elsa.

Your support for our work in Uganda is providing safe water to hundreds, preventing disease and saving lives. It’s transforming the way villages in northern Uganda operate. And the project has barely begun. “I just want to say thank you,” Tim says to our generous supporters. “You’ve enabled so many people to access clean water already. We’re so grateful.”

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