Uganda (MNN) — Can you imagine hitting your 26th birthday and realizing you have already lived half your life?
The life expectancy in Uganda is 53 years. That’s 15 years less than the life expectancy in the United States: 78 years.
While it may seem less flashy than the popular life-saving superheroes, something as simple as well-water can save people in Uganda from rampant killers like bacterial diarrhea or typhoid fever.
Unfortunately, one-third of Ugandans don’t have access to clean drinking water, and over 50% of the population still waits for clean sanitation facilities.
Even when organizations have gone out and drilled wells for Ugandan communities, the help doesn’t always last. 37% of the water hand-pumps in Uganda are broken, and most villages have no ways to fix them.
Rod Thompson, a Field Trainer with Lifewater International, explains, “Clean water in itself really isn’t the whole answer. The World Health Organization’s statistics show that if you give someone clean water, it’ll make about a 35% decrease in deaths due to diarrheal diseases. Yet, if you couple that with community health through hygiene training and latrines in that same community, you can have a high of 65% decrease in deaths.”
Thompson just returned from a trip with Lifewater to Lira in North-Central Uganda. There, they worked with a local partner to drill a well and pair it with community health education. Various programs Lifewater implements include hygiene, latrines, water-well drilling, hand-pump repair, and bio-sand filtration, depending on the needs of the community.
“The villagers worked very hard to help drill that well,” says Thompson. “When we came, they had kind of a heightened expectation; ‘Wow, our problems with water are going to be going away.’ When they actually saw that we hit good water–lots of it, and it was going to be a good thing for their community, the transformation in them was phenomenal." Villagers were waving branches and singing songs, and just the exuberance was contagious!”
And because Lifewater is a holistic ministry, it wouldn’t be complete without the deeper hope of the Gospel message. As Lifewater sends teams to drill wells and educate communities, they partner with organizations that effectively evangelize in the language of the community.
“As our Lord Jesus showed us when He was on the earth–pretty much every time He did some physical healing, there’s also a spiritual component to that: spiritual healing or transformation. I believe that model is what we’re called to use today,” Thompson says.
Pray for both the physical and spiritual healing of Ugandans as they get well-water and hopefully find the Living Water of Jesus Christ.