Saturday, October 1, 2022
More than two thousand families in Uganda are experiencing the simple joy of drinking clean, clear water for the first time. This endeavor was accomplished through the generosity of many — but especially that of Jim Wilhite. Jim is a volunteer at Water With Blessings. Even though he lives in Northern Kentucky, his heart belongs to Uganda. He spends his time stateside raising funds for water filters that he then delivers to refugee camps and remote villages throughout Uganda. [Comboni Missionaries]
For the past three years, the Comboni Missionaries in North America have partnered with Water With Blessings, a nonprofit group in Northern Kentucky that provides easy-to-use water filtration systems to those who need them most. Since Jim was last able to visit Uganda in 2020, enough donations were collected to send 540 water filters to Uganda. This summer, Jim was finally able to return to the country he loves so much and share the gift of clean water.
Each filter was given to a “water woman” who will then filter and share clean water with at least three other families. This means more than 10,000 people in Uganda will no longer have to worry about drinking brown, disease-carrying water.
How the Program Works
When Jim arrives in a village, the women gather to learn about the Water Women program. After hearing about the filters, each woman that is interested fills out an application. Since there are a limited number of filters available for each village, the applications are selected by lottery. Typically, thirty water women are chosen for each village. “We have found that mothers are ideal partners in our quest to change the reality of dirty water in marginal communities. Mothers are uniquely concerned for the health and well-being of their children, and have proven to be reliable partners for bringing clean water to the most vulnerable children.”
“To become Water Women, mothers attend a training that is both spiritual and practical. They are empowered to help prevent the spread of waterborne illness and equipped with a filter to share clean water. They sign a covenant, a sacred commitment to God and their community that they will use their filters to serve others.” (https://waterwithblessings.org/the-problem-and-solution/)
Dispatches from Jim
(ALIA, Uganda) — “Yesterday [September 5, 2022] we traveled out to Alia, Uganda, once again to work with the new Water with Blessings Water Filter Kit training team. When we arrived at the village, the mothers were gathering. Once they all arrived and the training was about to start, here came the rain. It is not common for me to hear thunder in Uganda but, I sure heard it yesterday. We all moved inside a small building that held all thirty of the mothers and the training team. I asked how many spoke English; the response was three mothers. The rest spoke Lugbara. Thank you, Father Otuma George and Father Ruffino Ezama, for all your help getting us this translation. One of the trainers and I proceeded to train this group of mothers. When it came time to assemble the Water Filter Kits, it had stopped raining. So we moved outside to do the assembling. All the mothers enjoy this part of the training. The entire training team joined in to help those that needed help. The training was completed, pictures were taken, and all were happy. We had our closing prayer and said, ‘All glory to God.’”
(KARAGALYA, Uganda) — “The team left yesterday morning for the Karagalya Village about six kilometers southwest of Bweyale. The training was held at the Karagalya Church. We arrived at 9:30 a.m. to find twenty-three mothers waiting with their hankies in hand to wipe their foreheads. It is going to be hot today. Robert, our driver, informed me that there were still some mothers working in their gardens. It didn’t take long when I began the Water with Blessings Clean Water Mission work to see what is important to these mothers, grandmothers, and aunties: Their faith in God, their children, water, and food. Such simple wants and needs in our lives. To nourish our love and strength and to provide the nourishment for our bodies to live.”
“As the next hour passed by, the mothers made their way into the church and we prayed to begin the training of the Water Filter and the ‘Bucket of Hope.’ One of the kiddos was pulling the thirty applications from the Bucket of Hope, and when finished we asked the remaining mothers to come back when we returned. I sat and watched and listened to Sister Florence begin reading from the manual on clean water. As I watched, it was just as the previous trainings; the mothers sat listening and not blinking an eye. The word spreads fast throughout the nearby villages about the water filters. They will no longer have drinking water filled with parasites, bacteria, worms, and many other harmful things. Midway through the training, we have our break time. Then the soon-to-be Water Women stand and stretch, twist, and dance for a few minutes. Then we get to assemble the Water Filter System. As we get through each phase of the training, the mothers get more excited. It doesn’t take long before everyone is smiling, laughing, and singing when they hear, ‘Congratulations, you are now Water Women!’ It is time for the pictures. Then we pray out of the training day.”
(KARAGALYA, Uganda) — “Good afternoon yesterday [September 9, 2022]. We were at the Karagalya Village. It was our last training day in the Bweyale, Uganda, area. We met the mothers at the church once again. It was a good training day. Sister Florence is a great trainer. When they reached the water filtering demonstration, the ladies cheered at the difference in the water they have been using. Several of the ladies wanted a cup of the water. The ladies were very happy. I was too, for them and for me — I got to hold a baby! They are relieved to know they will never drink from this rain pond again. I ask that you donate to Water for Uganda Water with Blessings. We prayed out of this training day with thirty Water Women.”
About the Filter
“Using technology inspired by our own biology, the Sawyer PointONE filter system functions much like kidney dialysis does to filter out impurities in the water, leaving clean, drinkable water. This amazingly effective filter can be set up in five minutes. It requires only a five-gallon container and the filtration kit. It is simple enough that adults of all education levels can learn how to use it. No electricity and no complicated maintenance to guarantee a lifetime of clean, safe water!”