Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2008 International Humanitarian Project of the Year: Vima Lupwa Homes' Water Well

At the end of 2008, Vima Lupwa Homes' founder Malerie Pratt's brother Tyler helped oversee completion of a water well that will provide fresh water for chickens, garden and the children who live in the home under the loving care of co-founder Violet Membe.

Despite many challenges and setbacks, Tyler was able to get the new water system up and running before he returned to the U.S. Following is an excerpt from a journal entry Tyler sent to Malerie before departing.

"I climb our tower to open our supply line and we run along the trenches. No leaks to chicken coop, none to garden, and none to washing station. Violet and the kids watch quietly not seeming to understand what all of the fuss is about until I turn on the first tap and water flows at Vima Lupwa Homes for the first time since its founding, when after plumbing the house and connecting to the municipal water main they discovered no water flowed this far out on the network of clogged and broken water pipes.

"Upon opening the first tap I did not expect the procession which was to follow. The whole household erupted in cries of celebration and jubilance as we ran around our various stations to which before water had been laboriously lifted from a well down the block and hauled here in buckets by the crew of children. Now we have a high flow next to the watering can in the chicken coop, one stationed in the middle of the garden, and one in the shade of the matambula tree next to the washing station. They are so celebrating at their outside taps that they seem to forget we have plumbed it to the house as well. I usher them into the house where water is flowing into the kitchen sink through our first broken tap, a small fix compared to what we’ve been through so far on this project.

"A water fight erupts and a line of anxious kids chug water directly from the tap, splashing it all around on those standing by. We funnel in towards the bathrooms to find the thirsty reservoirs of murky and stinking toilets being filled with water, and a good flow through our showerhead under which they all decide to shower in their clothes, singing, jumping, and chanting all the while “no more dirty, no more dirty...” A dog pile proceeds on top of Violet in the hallway and a troop of dripping wet smiling kids stumble outside to catch the last rays of sunset as it dips below the savanna."

To read the full story, go to LupwaHomes.org.


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