Living Water & Lent - Jacob

Living Water & Lent



Because of a severe leg injury, he requires a cane to walk so Jacob needs to leave his hut by 6am to open the well on time at 7am. More than 400 people from six small villages are counting on him and he’s not about to let them down.

“They all voted for me to be the caretaker and I am determined to do a good job and help the well last for a long time,” Jacob said. “I can’t be late. People need their water.”

Mornings are a busy time in the Menya home as Jacob must help get his three youngest children get ready for school before he can start the one-mile walk to the borehole.

The daily walk to the borehole is bittersweet. In 2007, Jacob lost his wife of 35 years to a water-related illness.

 “I am very, very happy that we now have this clean water and that my friends and neighbors will not have to suffer like my family did,” he said. “But, I’m sad it didn’t come in time to save my wife.”

The villages’ old source of drinking water was a lake in the middle of a swamp about two miles away. Diarrhea, worms, typhoid and other water-related were a part of everyday life. Deaths were not uncommon.

“It was disgusting but it was all we had,” Jacob said.

His job requires him to unlock the pump at 7am and lock it up again at 6pm. He is also responsible for keeping the area around the well clean and offering hygiene and sanitation tips to users.

For this, he receives a monthly stipend of 20,000 Ugandan Shillings (about $10) which comes out of the maintenance fees collected from people using the well. On average, families contribute 1,200 shillings a month (about 50 cents).

He also gets all the clean water he can drink which is a perk of the job as far as Jacob is concerned.

“This water tastes great!”

Funded by Water to Thrive and constructed by International Lifeline fund, the Baroromo Borehole opened in October 2014. It is located in Uganda’s Apac District.

With only a few weeks left in lent, consider donating now to provide wells in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania and to make an impact in a life like Jacob's. 


Living Water & Lent - Wahid

Living Water and Lent


From the time she was born, she regularly suffered from water-related diseases contracted by drinking water collected from the stream that borders Akuweini, her village in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region.

With the nearest health post over an hour’s walk away, getting treatment for these conditions was time consuming and costly. She almost died several times from diarrhea simply because it was too challenging to seek treatment.

Then, about 10 years ago, a neighboring village installed a hand-dug well, meaning Abraha and her family would not have to drink from the unprotected stream any more. But this new source of health would exact a toll on Abraha in other ways.

In spite of the fact the well was only half an hour away, it was not unusual for Abraha to spend eight hours a day collecting her water.

“We weren’t the only two villages getting our water from the well and the line to fill our jerry cans was always very long,” Abraha said. “It was very common to wait for six hour or more to get to the front of the line.”

During the dry season, the flow of water was so reduced that each household was limited to a single five gallon jerry can per day.

“It was never enough. I have a husband and five children and we were always thirsty,” Abraha said. “It was better than being sick all the time but it was still very hard.”

Thankfully, since December 2014, all of Abraha’s water problems disappeared in one foul swoop when a Water to Thrive-funded hand-dug well was installed in her village five minutes from her house.

According to Abraha, she’s healthier and happier than she’s ever been. She’s also come up with a unique way to spend her newfound time by rural Ethiopian standards.

“I’m going to spend that time looking after my first grandchild,” she said. “I never really had the opportunity to do this with my children and I love it.”

If you would like to see radical life change for woman around the world just like Wahid, consider donating to Water to Thrive now!

Living Water and Lent - Derek

Living Water and Lent


Thirteen-year-old Derek Ngura just moved to Anyige from another village in the Apac District; his father is a builder and there are more work opportunities for him there.

We were excited about finding Derek as we assumed he was going to be able to give us a detailed first-hand account of how much his life had been impacted by clean water. It turned out we were right but not for a reason that any of us would ever have guessed.

Here’s a transcript of the interview. Spoiler Alert: The jaw-dropper comes all the way at the end: 


Water to Thrive:                  “So Derek, how often did you get sick drinking the water at your old village and how much school did you miss as a result?”


Derek:                                “I never got sick.”


Water to Thrive:                  “What about school?”


Derek:                                 “I never missed school.”


Water to Thrive:                  “What about the other members of your family?”


Derek:                                “No.”


Water to Thrive:                  “What about your other relatives?”


Derek:                                “No.”


Water to Thrive:                  “Classmates?”


Derek:                                “No.”


Water to Thrive:                  “Anyone?”


Derek:                                “No.”


Water to Thrive:                  “Derek. Are you saying you didn’t have any water-related diseases at your old village?”


Derek:                                “No.”


Water to Thrive:                  “Why do you think that was?”


Derek:                                “We had a borehole.”


Water to Thrive:                 [Internally] There goes that storyline. Better quickly ask him a few wrap-up questions we don’t want him to think he did anything wrong.


Water to Thrive:                  “So Derek, what are your favorite subjects at school?’’


Derek:                               “Math and science.”


Water to Thrive:                  “Good for you. Are you hoping to use them to earn a living one day?”


Derek:                                “Yes.”


Water to Thrive:                  “Doing what?”


Derek:                               “I want to be a water engineer and do projects like these in all the communities that don’t have access to clean water. I know how lucky I’ve been to have had clean water to drink my whole life and I want to do what I can to help everybody have the same opportunity.”


Water to Thrive:                  “Huh?”


And just like that, the tables had completed turned. Derek had morphed into a chatterbox spouting water statistics and talking about all the people he was going to help while we had been stunned into silence. Nobody in the group had ever heard a response like this before.


Derek was now in full flight talking about his favorite subject which gave us a chance to regain our composure. We thanked him for his time, congratulated him on his career choice and wished him well in the future.


It wasn’t until later on that day that it dawned on us what we had witnessed. Derek’s desire to help people less fortunate than himself was a bi-product of the work Water to Thrive and organizations like it have been doing in Africa for generations.


We learned that day that the example we set may be just as important – if not, more so – than the physical work we are doing.


It’s like the old proverb says:

“Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”

Living Water & Lent - Michael

Living Water & Lent



The relationship between hydration and cognitive function is well documented. Even mild dehydration can affect our moods, increase fatigue and decrease our ability to concentrate. These symptoms are particularly pronounced in children who don’t get enough water to drink.

Moody, tired, cranky and inattentive kids? Sounds like every teacher’s dream.

So spare a thought for Michael Msigwa. He’s been teaching at country schools in Tanzania for 24 years, the last 12 of which have been at the Kiponzero Primary School in Tanzania.

“I don’t think I ever really considered how difficult things were until the well was installed at the school,” he said. “There was a noticeable change in the children’s behavior after they started getting enough water to drink. In addition to all the health benefits, this well has made my job a lot easier.”

Michael teaches math, science and geography to all 600 of the school’s Year 1-7 students.

“To be honest, I never really gave it much thought,” he said. “I just thought ‘this is how children behave’ so I had a low expectation for how children should behave and what was an acceptable level of achievement.”

“It’s been quite remarkable to see how much they have changed now that they have ready access to all the clean water they can drink,” he added.

In addition to an improved classroom environment, Michael said he has noticed other changes as well.

“Attendance has improved significantly as the children are not getting sick as often,” he said. “Also, there’s been a noticeable improvement in test scores. I don’t have any firm numbers yet but I don’t think there was a child who didn’t see their grades go up.”

“It’s made my job so much easier,” he repeated. “I feel sorry for all the teachers that don’t have a well at their schools.”

If you would like to join us in helping schools and communities give up dirty water for Lent, donate here today. Children and families are waiting. 

Living Water & Lent - Agnes

Living Water & Lent



With all the major benefits clean water brings to a community such as improved health and economic growth, something as elemental as taste almost never makes it into the conversation.

Not so for Agnes Akullo.

Agnes has lived in the village of Adula in northern Uganda for her whole life. Previously, she would walk half a mile to a hole in a swamp to gather water for her family. When asked about the impact of the new borehole, taste is the first thing she mentions.

“Swamp water does not taste good,” she said. “It tastes very bad. It smells very bad. It makes our clothes smell bad. It’s disgusting, in fact.”

“This water we are now getting from this borehole tastes much better. It tastes better, it doesn’t smell and it is very safe. My children used to get diarrhea all the time so this water is saving us a lot of time, money and suffering.”

Agnes is 29-years-old and has eight children between the ages of three and 16. All of them are in school except for the youngest.

“This water is also very safe,” she said. “My children used to get diarrhea all the time so the well is saving us a lot of time, money and suffering. It’s also much closer so collection times are shorter.”

All of this saved time has given Agnes an opportunity to supplement her family’s income by baking bread that she sells at the local market. Her husband is a subsistence farmer.

 “The borehole has given me the time to do a lot of things I never got to do properly before,” Agnes said. “For example, I’m able to bath the children and do laundry more regularly. Of course, the extra money I’m bringing in is nice, too.”

In addition to a water user committee, Agnes’ village also has a community health club. Both organizations are active in maintaining the borehole as a resource for the 38 households that depend on it.

“It’s great to see them taking such good care of the site,” she added. “No-one around here wants to go back to the way things were.”

Living Water & Lent - Martta

Stories of Lent

When Martta Ogwang was 15-years-old, she packed up her meager belongings and walked to the village of Ayera in northern Uganda’s Apac District. She was about to be married and local tradition dictated that she move into her husband’s home after the ceremony.

It was 1985 and Martta was leaving behind one of the few villages in the area that had a functioning hand pump providing the whole community with clean, safe water. Installed by missionaries sometime before her birth, she never gave it or her good health a second thought.
Moving to Ayera would prove to be a rude awakening for the young Martta. One of the first things she learned as a new bride was how to collect water by digging a hole into a nearby swamp. By the end of her first year in the village, she required treatment for typhoid and for a host of other water-related illnesses.
And it was only the beginning. Her first child died at age five from typhoid and she would go on to lose three more children to the same disease, all at age two.
When we spoke with Martta beside her lethal water source, one of her surviving sons was with her.
“He’s being treated for typhoid right now,” she said. “I’m also taking medication. Someone’s always sick with something. Someone always has diarrhea or worms or typhoid. This water is not good.”
There is a health clinic two miles from Ayera and its services are free of charge. However, it often lacks the required medicines meaning the patient must be transported a further nine miles to the nearest hospital. It’s a long way when the only available means of transporting a sick person is to push them on a bicycle. There are private pharmacies that are closer but they are expensive and don’t offer testing which renders them almost useless.
Asked what it would mean to her, her family and her neighbors if Ayera was to get its own borehole, Martta suddenly became too emotional to talk. She tried to say something but couldn’t. She just turned, picked up her jerry can with its rancid contents and started the long walk back to her hut. It would be all anyone got to drink that day. 
Ayera is one of the villages Water to Thrive will be bringing clean water to in 2016. For Lent, we are helping Marrta and her family give up dirty water. 
Consider donating today to provide clean water to those who desperately need it.

Run For Those Who Walk!

The Pump Run

Want to support the mission of clean water? Sign up for Water to Thrive’s annual Pump Run, which includes a 5K Run, Kids’ 1K Fun Run, and a Virtual 5K Run. After the race, you can expect face painting, balloon animals, games, screen printing, a jerry can relay, and more! This is a family-friendly event and pet-friendly too (as long as they are on a leash)! Come walk or run on February 27th to help put an end to the global water crisis. Register now!

To sign up or for more information visit 


Pump Run 5K - Join Us

Pump Run

This February 27th, run for those who have to walk. Water to Thrive is hosting the annual Pump Run, a 5K race supporting the mission of providing cleaner, safer water to parts of rural Africa. Every year, millions of people are left without clean water. Education, time, health, and empowerment are just a few of the assets that are forfeited when people do not have access to clean water. 

But by signing up to participate in the Pump Run, either virtually or in person, you can make a difference in this global water crisis. You can be the difference in multiple school girls receiving an education because they no longer have to walk 5 miles to gather water every day. You can be the difference in mothers starting their own businesses or improving their homes since they will have more time and resources to do so. Please consider running for those who walk with jerry cans full of dirty water for their families every day.

To sign up or for more information, visit

Ohhh, SO close!! We're taking #GivingTuesday to a #WaterWednesday conclusion!


So many great gifts came in yesterday, from big to small, some with employer matches, some from spare change, and all so deeply appreciated!

We funded the first #GivingTuesday water project right around lunchtime, and worked hard to get the second $5,000 settled by midnight. Alas, we came up just $520 short.

We can't let hundreds of people in need go without for the lack of $520, so we hereby declare today to be #WaterWednesday and we are going to ask again for your support to bring in this very last bit we need.

Just like yesterday, please give if you can, and spread the word. We know we can do it, and we look forward to inaugurating two new wells with plaques commemorating your amazing #GivingTuesday effort.

Help us find the last $520 for our #GivingTuesday goal!


In the last hour, we received $675 in donations and cut that $1200 deficit more than in half! We are now just $520 away from funding our second‪#‎GivingTuesday‬ water project. It's late, we know, but before you turn out the light, think for a moment about whether you can spare a gift or a share to help us meet this goal and bring clean, safe water to another rural African community in need.


It just takes a click to give, a click to share, a click to make a huge difference for hundreds of people. We are SO very close, and we know we can do it because we have you working with us. Thank you so much for‪#‎Giving‬ with us on this ‪#‎Tuesday‬!



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