Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year from Congo!

We spent New Year's Eve bouncing (literally) in the back of a truck from Gulu to a town called Paidha on the border of Congo. The journey took 9 hours, but the team (Kaben Kramer, myself, and 6 of the Young Men Drilling team of Restore Water) held tough, arriving at 1:00AM. I chased the truck on my Honda 250 dirt bike (Roxanne- the double Soul Safarian is still going strong!) Kaben's got a bruised tailbone, but you won't find him whining... he's been grinning the whole time- he lives for this kind of mission. Kaben is a water engineer from California, who arrived last week with his wife Jenn to lend a hand and some expertise to Restore Water's team. Jenn is connecting with the women leading Purse of Hope, and pouring into the girls' lives. It's a blessing to have them with us, and they're planning to move back here permanently in May!

Back to Paidha... the water situation is the worst I've seen, with people walking great distances to gather from dirty streams. The few wells that we have seen are either broken, contaminated, or locked with owners insisting on payment for water. After scouting for a half day around the area (including a quick walk into Congo), we selected our first drilling site, around 200 ft from the stream, on the downhill slope of one of the hills near town. The distance from the stream, and the lack of nearby latrines provides the best chances we've seen thus far from having a clean source of water. Here's a quick video of Kaben near one of the dirty streams:

We hit rock with the 6" auger at 15 feet depth yesterday, and battled it for the afternoon, calling it quits at dusk. Today we managed to dig around the rock with the 2" auger, and then proceed down with the 5" auger, to 25 feet, where we were thrilled to hit water!

The people of Paidha have been so overwhelmingly welcoming... and surprised to see Muzungus (white people), as it's extremely rare for whites to reach this town- we haven't seen a single one since leaving Gulu. It's been fun playing with the little kids who come up running and yelling (mundu, mundu! - the local word for white person). You get every possible reaction you can imagine, from standing stunned and dropping things, to smiling with delight and running up to shake hands, laughing with friends nearby at the rare sight. The babies and young ones are especially fun, usually either bursting out in fearful tears, or staring wide-eyed with wonder and smiles. They're learning quite a bit about us too... like what a sunburn is!

We're praying for these two wells, that we might have success, and perhaps pave the way for much needed attention to clean water in this area. The truth is, in our journey from Gulu we passed nearly 200 kilometers of places with great need for water, which has been overwhelming and daunting for Kaben and I. Such immense need... but we're looking for strength, and grateful for each step...

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