Water With Blessings Brings Clean Water and Hope to the Poor in Zambia’s Copper Belt
The region in the north-central section of Zambia is known as the Copper Belt, because for many decades it produced mass quantities of minerals. As in many places in the developing world, those resources benefited others. Now in many areas the mines are tapped out and closed, leaving behind the retired, the under-employed, the young – and dirty water.
Fr. Douglas Ogato, a member of the Missionaries of Africa, came to Zambia from Kenya in 2016 to serve the people in this area. While still in Kenya, he met missionaries from the Diocese of Bismarck (ND) who were helping the vulnerable populations, and cooperating with Water With Blessings to fight water-borne illnesses.
“They stirred in my heart passion for missionary life, for they came from far away in Bismarck and lived in the middle of our village and shared our way of life, putting the Gospel into practice” Fr. Douglas said. “And this is exactly what I am trying to do now.
“In our Water With Blessings program, we will work towards enabling children to have access to clean and safe water. For they are saying as Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, ‘Give us a drink.’ And not just any drink, but clean drinking water.”
In New Kaloko Compound, where Fr. Douglas is working, most houses have no plumbing. Water is normally sold at ‘thembas,’ small shops across the compound. Due to long distances between the shops and their homes, the people normally purchase water in big drums, which are heavy to carry when filled. That being the case, they roll the drums along dirty paths, exposing the water to germs. Thus the need for the Sawyer PointONE filters.
The water program is just beginning. Dominican Sr. Theresa Konsolo was assigned by her community to serve in the area after a request for assistance from Fr. Douglas. A social worker by profession, her background and skills will help the effort achieve its targets and help more people.
“The area is very poor and water is scarce,” Sr. Theresa said. “Many people have diseases such as diarrhea because of the dirty water. The clean drinking water will help the people in our parish first as the program begins. But eventually it will go beyond the Catholic community and help our neighbors regardless of their faith.
“We will track how the filters are used, and how many people benefit, then see how to proceed with the program. We are looking at an area where the poverty level is very high, as is the need for clean water.”
Sr. Theresa and Fr. Douglas have completed the Water With Blessings training so that they in turn can train new Water Women in the area. Now, Fr. Douglas is translating the training materials into Bemba, one of the widely-spoken local languages.