Uganda (MNN) — In Northern Uganda, most IDP camps are desperate for clean water or any water at all.
Living Water International recently repaired five hand pumps and established three new pumps in IDP camps in the Gulu region. In one area they had only three pumps for the 7,000 remaining people. Two of the pumps were broken, and the other was contaminated. "We were able to repair those hand pumps, and these people had clean, safe drinking water for the first time in months," said Jerry Wiles of Living Water.
About 15,000 people were provided with clean drinking water as a result of the trip.
The Living Water International team also spent some time talking to former child soldiers, many whom were abducted between the ages of five and fourteen. During their time in the bush, they were forced to fend for themselves and often "suck the water out of dirt and mud and break tree limbs off and suck the tree limbs just to get some moisture," explained Wiles.
As a result of the war and the AIDS epidemic there are few adults around to take care of the children. "In many of the villages and the IDP camps, you'll find an 11- or 12-year-old girl taking care of four or five younger children," said Wiles.
Providing water to these people is a bridge for the Gospel, according to Wiles. Often those without clean water are the least -eached with the Gospel. "You think about the physical need, but if they don't have the Gospel, then we'll just extend their physical life. But we're primarily about demonstrating the love of Christ and bringing them to a relationship with Christ."
Since rehabbing wells is less costly than drilling new ones, Living Water International is endeavoring to help fix some of the thousands of broken hand pumps all over Uganda and other countries in Africa.
"For one dollar you can provide one person with clean water for probably five years, on average. Most of these hand pumps will be functional for about five years without any significant maintenance, so that's a pretty strategic, high-impact opportunity," Wiles said.
To enable believers to provide clean water in these places of need, Living Water International is holding their annual gala October 19th in Houston. The purpose is to mobilize prayer, people, and resources. Everyone is invited. The event will also be a time for recognition and telling the stories of Living Water.
"We'll show a video and really just give an annual report, an update on what we're doing with testimonies. We'll have some entertainment, as well," said Wiles. Shannon Wexelberg is their guest musician.
On Saturday, October 20, they will be holding an open house as well.