Located on Lake George in Western Uganda, the small community of Nyakera has not had the opportunity to reach its full potential, one full of so many rich resources, because of one simple fact: Over 100 Years of No Clean Water.
Sustainable Missions Inc. (SMI) and the Nyakera Gospel Center have joined with Healing Waters to help this community get clean water for the first time in its history. Providing access to clean water and education on health and hygiene would holistically transform Nyakera like never before. While visiting Nyakera, the SMI team stated that almost every child they saw was visibly sick. Open sores, runny noses, and coughs were common place. The children bathe in and drink the contaminated lake water where hundreds of cattle drink and defecate every day.
Over 100 years of no clean water directly correlates to this small community of 1,800 experiencing high infant mortality, maternal deaths in childbirth, and malnutrition. The dysentery rate among children in the village is estimated to be around 70%. Access to clean water would virtually end dysentery and the death rate from water bacteria.
Clean water is not the only need in this community. The spiritual needs of the people are great. Being a fishing village, the men who operate the fishing guild have a decent income, but good stewardship of resources is a foreign concept. As a result, prostitution, HIV, disease, alcoholism and poverty throughout the larger community is commonplace. Although the Nyakera Gospel Center has taken root in the community, many of the Christians are marginalized.
When the community of Nyakera heard about the opportunity to have clean water in their village, they heartily agreed to work for 18 months before the project would even be implemented, a mere breath of time compared to the life-time of contaminated water they have always known. In 18 months they created a water club committee that then registered 116 families in the community to pay a deposit in helping construct the building for the water store. They created a business plan, saved funds, and were incredibly motivated to begin the project.
One of the most beautiful things about bringing clean water to this community was not just its ability to transform the entire village as a whole, but to see individuals transformed as they took pride and ownership in the project. Two very unexpected agents of change were two young, shy teenage boys named Ezra and John. Initially hesitant and unaware of their own skills, these two boys were selected to fully operate the water store. By the end of their training Ezra and John were transformed into confident, certified operators!
And as if that isn’t enough, the frequently ignored and marginalized Christians in the community are now having a greater impact in the community through this water project. One villager was overheard saying: “Now when the Christians talk about Christ, people listen.”
This past month, the project was implemented, the store was opened, and for the first time in Nyakera’s existence, they had clean water! To say it was a momentous day is a huge understatement. The committee secretary vowed that the community would protect this priceless resource as a gift from God. It is hard to put into words how impactful this day was to the village. It has resulted in pride and ownership in Nyakera. It is their project, their water, and their success. By God’s grace, pure, clean drinking water is now available to this community—truly healing water.
*A Special Thank You to John Emelio, SMI president, and Kendra Jarrell, Country Director, SMI Uganda (www.sustainablemissions.org), for all their input and for collecting this story first hand in Nyakera.