by Shanna McClarnon, a Samaritan’s Purse Staff member stationed in South Sudan
Like many people in the Republic of South Sudan, Bol Deng Teng is no stranger to tragedy. As a sub-chief in the Northern Bahr el Ghazal community of Marol Ajuong, Bol has seen first-hand the devastating effects caused by years of war. As we sat down on the ground to talk, Bol narrated how numerous attacks on his community had destroyed their crops and livelihoods, demolished their homes, and displaced countless families.
Marol Ajuong is a farming community buried deep in the South Sudanese bush. During the rainy season, the land is covered with water and mud, making it a two hour drive from the main road, accessible only by motorbike. In addition to the trauma caused by prolonged fighting, access to clean drinking water was another challenge this war-torn community faced. In fact Bol lost his pregnant wife due to a disease caused by drinking contaminated water.
Until recently, the village’s only source of water was a hand-dug well that can take hours to reach by foot. However, hope was restored for Bol and the people of Marol Ajuong when Samaritan’s Purse arrived to drill a freshwater well in their village.
After the hand pump was installed, the community sprang to life and immediately built a fence around the well to protect it. The ladies dug the holes, the men cut the wood, and the fence was completed in half a day. Bol even encouraged the people to add a horizontal pole above the pump handle to prevent users from jumping on the handle to prolong its life.
The people of Marol Ajuong recognize how essential it is to protect and maintain the freshwater well so they won’t have to revert to walking hours in search of water.
The life-changing effects of clean drinking water can already be seen, which is a testament to the power of God and the resilience of the strong people of South Sudan. Fewer people are getting sick compared to last year’s rainy season, cases of diarrheal diseases have reduced significantly, and the children look much healthier.
“This is why we all say that God has turned his eyes to us this year,” exclaimed Bol, smiling from ear to ear.
For a community that had never seen clean drinking water, the freshwater well has done much more than improve the overall health of the community. It has served as a reminder of God’s goodness and love.