Healthy Homes

July 29, 2011 • Democratic Republic of the Congo

Samaritan’s Purse provides clean water for families that have been displaced by war in Congo
A steady line of women and children carrying yellow jerry cans and containers stepped carefully along the slippery, muddy trail leading down into the small ravine. Below, more than 30 people had already crowded around a rock basin that had been carved into the colorful limestone to capture the clear water that trickled from the spring.

It was nearing the end of the dry season and the water came slowly. People used cups and small pitchers to scoop out water and fill the 5-gallon containers. The spring currently serves more than 100 families, but Samaritan’s Purse workers are clearing debris, running pipes, and creating a protected collection point where more people can retrieve clean water.

Clean water is critical for healthy communities, especially here across vast areas of northeastern Congo (DRC), where thousands of families have been affected by ongoing rebel warfare.

Samaritan’s Purse is restoring three village wells, digging 10 new ones, and refurbishing three natural springs to help provide clean water to more than 20,000 people living in Banda and Boeli.

Thousands fled the area in 2009 when rebels with the Lord’s Resistance Army attacked and looted their villages. Dozens of people were killed and others were kidnapped to be used as slaves by the rebels.

About a year ago, people began returning to the villages and are still struggling to rebuild their lives. Samaritan’s Purse is helping by providing clean water and health training in the Name of Jesus Christ, including the project here in Banda.

On her way back up the steep trail, a woman named Anibutibeyo paused, struggling to keep the 45-pound container of water balanced on her head. The mother of three comes to the spring three times a day.

Like so many others, Anibutibeyo and her family recently returned to Banda.

“We had to flee to another place when the LRA attacked the villages,” she said. “We came back a year ago, but it has been hard to start over.”

A few steps behind her, a 14-year-old boy named Tambwako paused to share his story.

“I come three times every day to get water,” he said. “There are 13 people in my home.”

Tambwako’s name means “Praise to God” in his native Pazande language and he appreciates its significance.

“I like to go to church and I pray,” he said. “My father died last year. I pray for God to help me because I have no father.”

Samaritan’s Purse is also restoring old wells and digging new ones in strategic locations throughout the villages.

Established wells are being cleared of debris, dug deeper, and lined with concrete to prevent the sides from caving in. The top of the well is protected with a concrete cap. Each well provides clean water for at least 250 people.

The community takes ownership of the wells, appointing volunteers to monitor the sites and make sure they stay clean and protected.

We are also building latrines at local schools and establishing others throughout the community, with assistance from the local residents.

Samaritan’s Purse workers visit the schools to provide health and hygiene training to the children. Hundreds of adults also gather in the villages to receive health training. Children and adults learn the importance of proper hand washing, sanitary food preparation, securing clean water, and maintaining wells and latrines.

People in Banda and Boeli, and throughout the region, are praying for peace. Please pray with them as they struggle to rebuild their lives during dangerous and uncertain times in Congo.