Water. It's, like, a serious thing.
And, you know, we gotta have it. In fact, we, like, need it, in order to survive. Unlike commas, which are not needed to survive, and should be used, at most, sparingly, unless of course, the person using them is, say, me--- a girl who adores the ability of the comma to add flavor, feeling, and drama, not mention length, to a sentence. Overuse of the comma is just not something that overly concerns me. In fact, quite the opposite is true. But the overuse of water, or rather, the undervalued use of water, now that could be, and no doubt should be, cause for concern. Especially when I realize that others in the world have to spend a hefty portion of their day just to try to secure enough water to sustain them for that very day... not to mention finding enough water needed for future days.
(I know the image quality is not the best in the above photo. I cropped this image to show only this little guy... The s-shape of his body due to straining to carry that jug of water is just so poignant, I had to include this photo. This was somehow the only shot I have that captured it, although it was a common sight everywhere we went.)
The kids are the ones largely responsbile for retrieving water from the wells. Wells that may be miles from their homes. There was a constant stream of children going to and from the bore-hole well near the Buloba church. And despite their continued labor, the need for water is not one easily quenched. Monotony and sweat is the name of this game. Therefore, most families try to find some way to capture additional water on their own premises. Water jugs, old water bottles, pots, remains of plastic buckets, scraps of metal, anything that might possibly maybe hopefully catch and contain some of the precious liquid are lined up under the roof eaves. These old and decrepit contenders, while they may be thirsty, do not offer much promise for a victorious capture.
Would you want to have anything to do with run-off water that might be detained in the above containers? How about using it to wash some clothes? How 'bout using it to cook a meal? Wash your hands? Give your child a bath? Clean a wound?
Yeah. Me neither. Rest assured the people do, in fact, boil all the water that they use... maybe rest is the wrong adjective to use there, since resting is certainly not the action required to secure clean water for daily use. Be assured that it takes a lot of work for just a little bit of the clean stuff.
A large part of our trip was dedicated to the installation of "rain-catch systems" or "water-harvesters" as I heard them called and now prefer to call them. Very little explanation is needed to understand the simplicity of these things. But what a huge impact these water harvesters have for a family!
A fascia board is installed on the ends of the rafters (the white board) and then two metal gutters are attached so that the water running off the roof can be captured and funneled into a water barrel (the blue barrel, formerly housing anything from mango pulp to petroleum jelly, re-purposed as a water barrel). And voila! Simple, sweet, and so effective.
Pastor Isaac (on the left) and Peter installing the gutters.
Other scenes from water-harvester installations looked like this:
Installing a fascia board:
Sometimes the inside of the barrel had to be painted:
Cornerstone provides the funds, and the Buloba church is then able to secure the materials needed for the water harvesters. The church people are there to do the majority of the installation work, allowing us the opportunity to visit, hang out, spend time hearing the people's stories---learning about and being interested in their lives. One time a Muslim man rode by on his bike while an installation was in progress, and Connie called out a greeting, followed by "Look at what God has done for this family!" To which he replied, "God did not do that, the people did." Connie followed that up with a friendly explanation of the fact that, without God, we the people would not have been there at all to meet, help, and love the people of the community. She said, "Yes, the people. Because of God. Because He loves, we love."
This lady had a water-harvester installed at her home:
Her next door neighbor, whom she looks after, came over to meet us:
This young lady received a water harvester on her home (that she shares with her sister) as well. I don't really know what I can and can't share about her story. But... through the generosity of a member of the Buloba church, her and her sister are able to live safely in this house, away from members of their family and former community who strongly disagree with their decision to become followers of Christ.
Her name was Joy.
She gave me a leaf from her both spearmint plant and her lemongrass plant to flavor a cup of tea!
The crew: (L-R) Dan, Justine, Josh, Pastor Isaac, Davis, Me, RJ, Joy, Amy, Casey, Henry, Jonathan
And sitting in front: Gideon, Peter, and David (Jennifer was acting as photographer)
So there you have it folks. Water Harvesters. Simple concept. Significant results. It was a fun thing to be apart of... we met some wonderful people along the way, and not only at the homes where the water harvesters were being installed. We mostly walked from house to house and therefore got to see much of the Ugandan countryside around Buloba. At each home we were welcomed and thanked with open arms--- though I wanted to be thanking them! Their openness and generosity toward complete strangers blew me away. The blessings were certainly twofold. The pure joy, enthusiasm, and zeal for a life of faith was marvelous to behold. And I would be remiss to not mention the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the guys from Buloba church in making sure no piece of material was wasted in installing the water harvesters. If a nail bent, well then, they unbent it. If a board split, you better believe they pieced it back together and mended it. Not a piece was taken for granted or wasted. And, what's more, when something went awry, they were the model of patience and calm determination to get the job done right.
There are many more stories related to water-harvest installations that I hope to share with you eventually!
Until that happy day, perpetually reminiscing about that wonderful place, yours truly,