Water is something you and I take for granted. Why wouldn’t we?
Hot showers, flushing toilets and even swimming pools, for many of us, are expected.
But these are luxuries that the poor in the missions have never known. For them, a plentiful, clean supply of water isn’t a given. Water is a precious gift that sustains life!
At many mission sites, women and children must walk for miles to fill a bucket or jug with whatever water they can find. Then they balance it on their head and carry the heavy load back home. One container a day supplies just enough for drinking and cooking, not for bathing.
Across the globe, contaminated water is the leading cause of death and disease. It takes the lives of thousands of people each day, most of them children under the age of five. Polluted drinking water causes waterborne diseases like typhoid and cholera. People who bathe in muddy, contaminated ponds are sickened and sometimes die after exposure to bacteria and parasites in the water.
Could your family survive with only a few gallons of water a day for cooking and drinking? On average, that’s the amount of water poor families at the missions use each day.
In comparison, the average family in draught-stricken California uses 362 gallons per day! How much water do you use to bathe, clean your clothes, cook and drink every day?
Who in the world would want to drink a cup of dirty water? I wouldn’t. Would you? And neither do the men, women and children who have no other choice because they live where clean water is nonexistent.
Ask any of our Franciscan missionaries who are ministering to the poor in developing countries and they will tell you that clean water is more precious than gold!
Unfortunately, Father Benoit Ndayizeye, OFM knows this all too well. Almost every week, Fr. Benoit has a funeral for a person, or persons, in his parish who died from a condition related to contaminated water.
Most of the funerals are for children. “If they had only had clean water,” Fr. Benoit said, “most of them could have lived.” Fr. Benoit serves in a parish located in the Gitega District of Burundi, Africa, and he is now spearheading a project to bring clean water to the people of the area.
He estimates that about 40,000 people in his district need a clean water source. There are 3 medical clinics without fresh water, which endangers people recovering from illnesses. Thirteen schools and one boarding school have no water, so it is difficult for kids to study all day. There are also two orphanages, four religious communities and Fr. Benoit’s parish without access to water!
But Fr. Benoit and the Gitega community are working on a solution! They are tapping into a natural spring several miles from their village. They have built a small dam at the spring source to capture the water.
The pure spring water will then flow through miles of buried pipes laid by hand to a collection of water tanks that have been built. From this series of tanks, water will be piped into the various schools, medical clinics, and orphanages. The local people can collect clean water for their homes at the large tanks.
Once complete, the fresh water provided by this system will greatly improve the health of this community and save lives! The project was partially funded by local sources, but Fr. Benoit needed another $30,000 to finish the job. So he reached out to us for help.
Franciscan missionaries are also actively providing fresh and clean water to the war refugees in Syria, to the poor in Peru, to orphanages in India and Africa and many other Franciscan missions!
Will you please give a generous gift so we can bring life-saving water to poor children and families in the missions? Water is a precious gift that YOU have the power to provide!
These families rely on missionaries like Fr. Benoit and other Franciscans, and we’re relying on you. Like gold, the price of water can be very costly, but with your help, people in the missions can have clean, safe water. The lives you save are priceless.
May our loving God bless you and reward you for hearing the cry of the poor and answering with love and generosity.
Bro. Andrew Brophy, OFM