Witu, Kenya: Water, Glorious Water!
In the first edition of our parish Magazine (Ujumbe@Witu/Kipini), I pointed out, that one of the crucial challenges faced in the villages around Witu over the years is lack of hygienic drinking water. Access to good drinking water is crucial in any community. When one goes visiting the villages from about 4:00 p.m. when children are just back from school, one immediately notices how desperately people need water. Children who live far from water wells will quickly pick up a bicycle, grab some containers and go to fetch drinking water, kilometres away from home.
This considerable need becomes even more severe when it comes to having access to drinking water in schools. It is a demanding task for teachers and parents to provide drinking water for hundreds of school children every day. It is symptomatic when one sees the importance of stagnant water beside a school. Villagers wash their clothes in it, cows drink from it, children swim in the same pool, and that is the only source of drinking water too for the school and the entire village.
The government attempted to help through the provision of WIWA (Witu Water). This attempt did not reach very far beyond Witu town, and many villages are still struggling with the same problem over the years. Over the years, this struggle seems to have touched a soft spot in Fr Adolf Pöll mhm. He has been struggling to ensure that wherever there are families, there is a source of clean water. He has been doing this through the construction of wells. What spoke to me most is the dedication and energy with which he has carried out this activity. Whenever a well is complete, he will go and have a short ceremony with the villagers or school to bless the water and then the people will proceed to use it. There is usually excitement and gratitude from the people during the blessing of a new well. The people come for the celebration with containers to carry the first water and with gifts too for him. In schools, the prayers end with all the children fighting to drink the first water from the well.
The most recent well was blessed and opened in a primary school called Pangani primary school. The pictures I took at the opening ceremony took me to the scriptures. I asked myself this question did Fr Alleluya (Fr. Adolf Pöll) meet the Samaritan woman at the well? I asked this question because it is incredible to see the kind of joy seen on the faces of the villagers when they receive the gift of a new well. Their happiness seems to say “Our prayers have been answered, we are free from contracting cholera whenever there are floods” This is what their smile tells me. Yes, water has been used in the scripture to show moments of significant encounter with God. The picture above reminds me vividly of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well; (John 4:4-26). When I look at the joy on people’s faces and hear the speeches they make, for me, it never ends with just having clean water to drink. There is always a way in which the people profess God’s hand at work among them. Their speeches are usually full of the statements such as, “tunamshukuru Mungu” meaning, we are grateful to God.”
Alexander Kimbi Toaghang mhm
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