Clean Water for Today – and Tomorrow
Under a bright blue sky, in the dry shrubland of northern Zimbabwe, a small group gathered around a concrete platform and an odd-shaped contraption with two handles. It was a brand new well.
The members of Kanyemba village took turns, two at a time, to crank the well, pulling the water up from its underground reservoir. The new handles were stiff at first, but the more they were used, the easier the job became. Children, women and men all stepped up and took their turn. Anyone who wanted to help was welcome.
As everyone waited and watched for the first drops of water, they sang, danced and clapped. Shouts and cheers and laughter rose as the water began pouring out of the spout and into the bucket below. There were songs of gratitude to the team that installed the well, and to God for providing this source of water.
Safe water. Abundant water.
The Price of Water
Before this well was installed, the village of Kanyemba had no reliable water source. Women and girls had to walk to another village’s well — or to a riverbed, where they dug holes to collect contaminated water. On the long walk back home, they often carried more than 40 pounds of water.
And this was at least once every day.
TEAM missionaries at nearby Karanda Mission Hospital saw the consequences every day. Patients arrived with waterborne illnesses that could easily kill them. The only long-term solution was helping the villages create new, reliable water sources.
Kanyemba is just one of several communities that received wells through TEAM in 2020. Eight new wells were drilled in Kanyemba and other locations, and special hardware was installed on these and six other existing wells.
Each community provided a team of builders to help in the installation process. Locals were also trained in simple well maintenance to keep it running. Properly cared for, these wells will last decades longer than the common bush pump.
Deeper, Durable Wells
TEAM implemented the project with Design Outreach, a ministry that helps alleviate poverty through technology development. LifePumps, as these wells are called, were their first major engineering effort and are now found in nine countries.
LifePumps can pump water from depths traditional hand pumps can’t reach. And they are engineered to last at least 30 years with minimal maintenance.
And this, says Greg Bixler, Design Outreach’s CEO, helps build trust.
Communities Built on Clean Water
When a pump can run for decades without breaking down, people experience a mindset shift. They start to realize that water is not only available for them today, but it will also be available tomorrow.
Now, they can invest in seeds for a garden that will need watering throughout growing season. They can build up herds of cattle and goats, because they know there will be enough water to sustain the animals.
Their children can go to school instead of staying home to retrieve water from some far-off location. And more schools will be built, because teachers will come to a community with a consistent water supply.
Villagers can construct stronger homes from brick, now that they not only have the water necessary to create bricks, but they also have the time to build their houses. Greg estimates that having a local, consistent source of water saves one individual about four hours per day.
“If we can start with something that works really well from the beginning,” says Greg, “it gives the community a big leg up and a head start in a way that they never would’ve had before.”
And building trust in this way, he says, builds relationships over time — and it builds a bridge to the love of God.
“I’ve heard community members in places around the world who have said they now believe in God because they have water in their village,” Greg says. “Because in their minds, they didn’t think that was possible.”
Although COVID-19 restrictions have limited their movements, TEAM missionaries are planning Gospel outreaches in each community that received LifePumps.
A Win for Villages and a Hospital
TEAM missionary Jon Christiansen coordinated the LifePump installation effort. He also oversees maintenance and development of Karanda Mission Hospital nearby. For him, this is the fulfillment of a vision that began about seven years ago.
“While we were mapping out the various phases for the [hospital’s] water system renewal effort,” he says, “I felt led to include one that focused on our surrounding community — especially those villages where the majority of our staff members came from.”
Karanda Mission Hospital was established in 1961 with the intention to serve the local rural population. But it has since grown to become one of the busiest hospitals in the entire nation of Zimbabwe. Often it’s the only available surgical hospital for the country’s 14 million-plus population.
A clean, reliable water supply is essential to keep Karanda up and running. But the surrounding communities need water, too, and sometimes the strain on the hospital’s water supply is heavy.
Jon says the wells are a win-win for this very reason. First, they directly benefit the communities where most of the hospital employees live. And second, they ease the water supply burden from the hospital, which cares for up to 200 inpatients and 300 outpatients each day.
‘Clean water, safe water’
Gilbert, a resident of Katsande village, is one grateful recipient of the clean water now available in his community.
The existing well in Katsande had started to show signs of corrosion
“We used to drink rust water,” Gilbert remembers. “Many people were suffering.”
Because the well in Gilbert’s community still had plenty of outflow, all it needed was an upgrade to its hardware. Now the life of this well has been extended, and it’s supplying fresh water once again to about 80 households each day.
“This well is very important to us,” Gilbert says. “We are fetching clean water from it, safe water.”
17 CommentsLeave a comment
Thank you for sharing this exciting news of how TEAM has partnered in Zimbabwe to bring new life to communities around the hospital. It’s great to see photos as well!
We’re glad to share, Sarah! God is doing awesome things!
I am going to be a missionary in 3 to 5 years to Israel or elsewhere and I would love to help build wells. I know it is going to be a part of my mission for the Lord. Thank you for sending me this article!!!
That’s awesome, Jarrod! We’re glad it encouraged you.
Love this report! Well written, engaging, and compelling. May the Lord us this to call others into the work of bringing the good news to those who have never heard.
Well written article! I’m inspired. How do we get involved, I’d love to do the same for villages in South Africa.
That would be awesome, Faith! Design Outreach has a whole list of ways to get involved on their website. If you’re based in South Africa and have an existing opportunity, I would suggest contacting them directly. They have a field office in Malawi whose contact info you can find here: https://doutreach.org/malawi/.
This article is very good and important.
I need it to implement in my country and beyond.
Please how can I get such wonderful training?
I need this experience
Hi, Noel! I’m not sure you can get training as an individual, but I would suggest checking out Design Outreach’s website, which has a list of ways to get involved. You can also find their contact info to talk with them directly!
Dear Team! Very important information, am very interesting for this project. How do we get involved as FRACE because we would like to join or to do this for our communities in Malawi.
Frank, I would go to Design Outreach’s website for contact info. They actually have a field office in Malawi, so that’s perfect!
What an encouraging story. My husband and I actually were in Zimbabwe and Karanda hospital helping with an earlier water project. Such an awesome place and hard working staff. The “bore hole” is the place where the people get their water. I have a soft place in my heart for clean water for all people.
Oh, that’s awesome, Karen!
This is a very good post! I admire the way you shared this topic! Keep it up a good job!
These kinds of projects are so amazing to me. Where I am from, I take clean water for granted every day. But for a community that doesn’t have that or other precious commodities at its disposal, a well would be life-changing. And, at the very least, it would be one less thing for the average person to worry about in the day.
Yes! I’ve heard about parents having to choose between giving their kids water that will definitely make them sick or letting them get dehydrated. The fact that there are so many people who will have to make that choice TODAY is devastating.
It was very heartwarming to know that the village of Kanyemba finally has a reliable water source. My family and I live in an area where water outages are very common, so we’ll need an alternative source of water when that happens. That being said, we’ll be sure to hire professional drilling services, so that we can finally have a well.