Water is life. In Uganda, just as it is all over the world, water is something so precious that amazing attempts are made to not waste (or spill a drop, see also pics in this post). I was quite amazed at the attempts made to not discard water, any water, even if it was full of mud and rust. It was almost something akin to Bear Grylls looking for water in Man vs Wild, but without water, we can’t live, and in Uganda there are some of the most resourceful people in finding water that even Bear would be proud.
From my non-scientific observations I identified basically three sources where people could get water in Bulboa. They get water from what I would call a seepage well or natural runoff, collection from a rain barrel or cistern type system, or a deep water bore well like Living Water International (LWI) drills. The easiest and most convenient method is to use water collected in a rain barrel since you don’t have to go anywhere to get the water. This is great, when and if it rains, but think about putting a medal barrel (that can and does rust) on the end of your house and letting it sit in the heat, uncovered, and you get the idea. Obviously the deep water bore well is the best and safest method for collecting water, and from what I could tell, Buloba has two such wells. One on the other side of the main road opposite the Buloba Police station and one about 500 yards or so past Buloba church (the well Cornerstone helped drill). If anyone wants a clean source of water they have to go to one of these two wells and haul it back to wherever they want.
Prior to the particular well being drilled by the church everyone in the immediate area of Buloba Church had to walk down to a runoff water source, which is still being used. This runoff water would be something like if you took a small (I emphasize small) flowing stream at it’s lowest point, and made a small dam with a pipe coming out for the water to flow through. This water source by my estimate is a little less than a mile away from the church, so when you needed to get some water, you walked the two mile round trip with a 40 pound plastic water can. This is, in a nut shell, what we did one the first day we arrived at Buloba Church.
Everyone from our church has heard this story many times before but there is just something about it that gets lost when you put it into words. We walked down to the runoff well with our cans and met several people and kids along the way that were doing the same thing. For some, this water source is still closer than going up to the deep water well by the church so they walk down here. Unlike what I was expecting, this water wasn’t visibly dirty, and on this day, didn’t have any particular smell or oder, but we were told that it is for the most part an unsafe water source (think about drinking water out of the Cahaba or Chattahoochee River if you live down here… some days that might be ok, but I probably wouldn’t take that chance myself).
So this was our walk down to the seepage well about a mile away. Sounds easy now, but several of the guys had the skin on their hands torn from the weight of water jug by the time we got back to the church making their yellow bottle handles mixed with a little American blood while the kids ran past us with their appropriate size water can. I’m glad we took the time to see and experience what people do just to get “clean” water when what we do is turn on the facet. The road to the seepage well goes by the new deep bore well, so these shots below stop there first and then end up at the runoff water. I will do a separate post with photos about the deep water well at some point down the road so to speak.
I was continually amazed by these kids. Doing incredibly hard work with a great smile on their face, always glad to see a Mzungu walk down their road.