"Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." ~Jn 14:4
This morning, Luke and I met with members of the community in Ngangula and found out just how important a well is for them. Ngangula is where our rural ministry centre is located and the well near our property is broken. This is a well that serves close to 1,500 people! Imagine having to walk half a mile to pump and carry water back for your family's meals and baths. Then imagine that the well you use is incapacitated and now you have to walk 3 miles. Now you're getting a better grasp of the struggle that many of these villagers are facing on a daily basis.
I'm beginning to see why, when Jesus told the woman at the well that he had water that would never make her thirst again, that she immediately asked for some of that water. She probably thought to herself that if this guy is for real, then I won't have to make the long trek back to this well each day, several times a day and carry heavy buckets back for my family's meals and cleanings.
Many people think that lack of viable water wells is the problem affecting Africa's clean drinking water availability. While new wells are needed, the wells that they are currently utilizing are falling apart and many are now inoperable. Just in the community that we serve in Ngangula, there are 8 wells providing water to over 5,000 people. Over half of these wells currently don't work. So, in addition to drilling new wells, villagers need to be taught how to maintain the ones that are currently available.
Being that we're now part of this community, we asked if we could pull the parts out and do a thorough inspection to identify the problems. We felt comfortable with this because of our training back in the States. Well, today we were given that permission. This particular well has been in service for nearly 12 years and it was very evident as we took it apart. Many of the pipes had rusted through and the foot valve (which controls the pumping) was cracked in several different places. Basically, if they tried to pump water, more water came back out of the pipe and back into the well than what made it to the surface.
Our desire is not to fix the problem for them, but to work with the community and assist them in coming up with a solution to this broken well. This weekend, we'll head to Lusaka to price the parts and then meet with the community next week to discuss a way forward. Pray that God would give us wisdom as we proceed.