In February 2010 I visited Central and Northern Mozambique. Even though I was born and raised in South Africa, I had never before seen poverty like this. The typical Mozambique villager is a hard working subsistence farmers. After decades of civil war the economy is nonexistent. Many live without even a change of clothing. Often a families most valued possession is a 25 litre plastic drum. With this balanced on their heads, young girls will walk several miles to collect water from a nearby river or smelly mud-hole.
After two weeks I returned home and fought a month long battle with diarrhea, most likely the result of some water-borne bug.
Yet in their poverty, they had a deep sense of contentment, and their warm toothy grins touched my heart as had never happened before. I realised that all their needs could never be met, but I felt compelled to make a difference, to help them in some way.
Water means Life, and the analogies are many. In Western society we so often take this essential of life for granted.
We open a tap and out rushes fresh, clean drinking water.
We wash our dirty clothes in water many are dying to drink.
We thoughtlessly water our lawns while crops are withering under the scorching sun.
Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that this is wrong, but because of our abundance we sometimes just fail to comprehend the very real needs of others.
Even though I had no experience, I decided to become a well digger. In 2012, two buddies and I came up with a plan. After doing a lot of research we decided that caisson lined wells were the most practical option. After months of planning and getting donations from churches in Canada, we set off on a well digging adventure.
We packed two vans, and hooked up trailers loaded with large diameter concrete pipes. Our Journey to Morrumbala in Zambezi province, Mozambique, had started.
The roads were in really bad condition and even though we drove for 12 hours a day, we only arrived at our destination 3 days later.
Some call me a risk taker, and I guess I am. I wasn’t even sure that we would hit water, but with spades and shovels we started digging.
The challenges were many and the costs were high. We returned from that trip with two wells dug, and two village’s lives changed forever. But at a cost of $5 500 a well, and the abuse that the personal vehicles took, continuing in this way was not a practical option.
Since then, I have been up to Mozambique on average twice a year, speaking to the people and looking at other options. I tried installing HydrAid water purification filters, but that was a resounding failure. Because of the filthy water these would become blocked within days.
But, I don’t give up easily!
In 2014 I entered the ‘Google Africa Connected’ competition, telling of my work in Mozambique. Out of over 2500 entries, I made making it into the top 10 finalists, winning a prize of $10 000.
Along with that prize money, almost R400 000 (about $27 000) has been raised. I have purchased a second hand Land Rover as well as a Mazda double cab. A portable drilling rig has been paid for and currently being shipped over to South Africa from China.
This is all good news, miraculous news! The excitement is building inside of me as I see this dream becoming a reality.
Our plan is to travel to remote villages in Central and Northern Mozambique, to drill wells and mount hand pumps on them.
Each trip will take almost three weeks, will result in 10 new wells and cost a total cost of R75 000 ($5 000 or 3 500 Pounds Sterling)
The math is easy. For just $500/ 350 Pounds, a well can be dug and an entire village can be provided with fresh drinking water. Our plan is to train locals in maintaining the borehole and pump. The beauty of these pumps is that the only wearing part is a one way valve that can be repaired with car tubing. There is no reason that the boreholes won’t continue being a lifesaver for many years to come.
“Doing Well” is a Youthworx / Grace Communion International joint venture. Both are registered Non Profit Organisations in South Africa, and have committed 100% of all funds raised to go directly towards the cost of digging wells in Southern Africa.