1,000 wells around the world
AKDESÉ, Haiti — In this remote mountain village, water gushes from…
DONO-MANGA, Chad — “Water, please.”
That’s the most common phrase heard around the table as a team of American Christians gathers under an open-air pavilion at the home of their African hosts.
The missionaries, from Hope Springs International, are weary after a day pulling teeth, playing soccer and even removing a spider from a child’s ear in heat exceeding 100 degrees.
And they’re thirsty. Very thirsty.
Then a young woman named Prudence Rimorbe appears, almost angelic in a flowing blue West African dress, bearing bottles of water and cola on a silver platter. The Americans lavish praise on her. They ignore the colas and take liter bottles of pure water, slick with condensation.
Related: 1,000 wells around the world
A few miles away, across twisting, dusty pathways, women struggle to draw a few drops of water from a shallow well in the village of Maloun. Dug 50 years ago, the well is nearly dry in the final weeks before the rainy season. And the water it produces is light brown, undrinkable.
As the well has dried, the village has dwindled, community leaders say. Only a few souls remain, and they spend hours walking to other water sources, including a river a few miles away, to get enough to make it through the day.
Nothing teaches the importance of water like a mission trip to Central Africa. The life-sustaining liquid comprises nearly 60 percent of the human body and covers more than 70 percent of the planet — though only about 0.4 percent of the world’s water is usable by its 7 billion inhabitants.
And here in southern Chad, it’s all too rare — especially clean, drinkable water free of the parasites and bacteria that rob this continent of its life and vitality.
This village, Dono-Manga, is the home of Prudence Rimorbe’s father, Pierre, who first encountered Churches of Christ when he lived in northern Nigeria. He was baptized and studied at the School of Biblical Studies in Jos, Nigeria, before returning home in 2006 to plant a church.
The church grew, but not as fast as the needs in his community. Children were dying of malnutrition, cholera and other preventable, water-borne diseases. Many had been orphaned by the continent’s HIV/AIDS crisis. Others lost parents who served in Chad’s military and died fighting against the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram or in the Darfur conflict in neighboring Sudan.
Pierre Rimorbe sent out an SOS to his Nigerian brethren: “Come help us save lives so that we’ll have more chances to save souls.”
Hope Springs International, which already was working in northern Nigeria, responded. For the past decade, the nonprofit has drilled water wells in southern Chad. That ministry has opened the floodgates to others. Christians here operate a medical clinic, a school that serves more than 1,000 students and a foster care program that helps nearly 100 children, orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and wars in neighboring nations.
“The people of Dono-Manga believe that God must really be working among these people,” Rimorbe says of her American guests, “because they come and they take care of our primary need, which is water.
“But it doesn’t stop there,” she adds. “The education of both the orphans and the other children in this community sent another clear signal that God was truly at work.
“And finally, with the clinic, those that are coming to receive medicines have stopped going to the traditional healers, to the witchdoctors and to the shamans for their medicine because it was unreliable.”
In addition to pulling teeth and extracting spiders, the mission team visits communities including Maloun, where Hope Springs president Lee Hodges tells villagers to expect a new water well soon.
“They are so overjoyed that God saw fit to choose them as a vessel to pour out his blessing on this community.”
In response, they cheer, clap and sing a song in their native language, Gabri.
What the song’s words mean in English: “God is bringing water today.”
“They are so overjoyed,” Prudence Rimorbe says, “that God saw fit to choose them as a vessel to pour out his blessing on this community.”
Look for expanded coverage and related stories in the July print edition of The Christian Chronicle.
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