Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: October 16, 2021

Changing Lives, One Safe Water Source at a Time

The Evuna stream is brown, dirty and often completely dried up due to the lack of rain and a prolonged dry season. Yet thousands of people in rural Nkerefi, Nigeria depend on this unreliable water source for their survival. Or, at least they used to; that is, until friends of Salesian Missions stepped in to help build a well.

More than 200 families live in the largely agricultural community of Nkerefi, and their lives aren’t easy. Just one year ago, the only accessible water anywhere nearby had been the Evuna stream—a seasonal source that would all but disappear during the dry season. Families drank from the Evuna stream; bathed in it; and cooked, cleaned and watered their crops with it. Far too often, they also got sick from it.

“This water source has been clinically confirmed to be non-potable,” says Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Yet—as we see time and time again in impoverished communities around the world—people have no choice but to use the water they have. And the negative impacts on their health, their education, and their ability to make a living are devastating.”

In Nkerefi, water-borne diseases are continuously present: cholera, ringworm, tapeworm, dysentery and other critical illnesses. Historically, a number of women and children have died each year from typhoid fever linked to the Evuna stream. Those fortunate enough to remain relatively healthy still spend hours trekking challenging distances to and from the river just to collect dirty water.

“Compared to nurturing children, going to school, and contributing to the family income, such investments of time show very little return,” Fr. Gus explains. “That’s why we are so committed to bringing local sources of safe water to as many communities as we can.”

When missionaries in Nkerefi reached out to Fr. Gus with the proposal, the plan and the contractors in place, he knew the project to build a new, clean water well was in good hands. It just needed funding. Through a special Giving Tuesday appeal in November 2020, generous donors of Salesian Missions came through.

Today, families in Nkerefi collect fresh, clean water close to their homes for the very first time. And, unlike the Evuna stream, this water source will remain available throughout the year.

“The individual and collective commitments that our friends made to this project will truly lead to brighter futures,” says Fr. Gus. “When women no longer spend hours each day in search of water, they have more time to devote to their children, and to contribute economically to their families. When children no longer get sick repeatedly from contaminated water, they have a better chance of succeeding in school. And together, these things can lift entire communities. I am so humbled, and grateful, for the trust and generosity demonstrated by our supporters, who made all of this possible.”

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