In December 2021, Dungenesss Community Church came together and donated a substantial amount to local and global charities through their Advent Conspiracy initiative. We have been a long term partner with Living Water International. This years gift was a record amount. Watch this video from Julie Hill of LWI and read her update letter about where these funds are going in the world, to help spread Living Waters to those in need.
A Letter from Julie Hill of Living Water International
Friends at Dungeness, you have supported Living Water International for well over a decade now! And you have learned a lot about what safe water means for communities, for lives, for hope.
You have seen happy children gathered around a completed well, splashing free flowing water. You have seen the pictures of the new water committees, proud local leaders with heads held high. Finally, they have been trained and empowered to manage and maintain their new water sources. You understand the link between clean water and important lessons of handwashing, latrine construction and usage. You know that the gospel can really take root and small churches can grow when their pastor has been empowered to meet physical needs so that the people believe when he tells them that this clean water is The Living Water. They really will never thirst again (John 4).
You have heard and known and today I want to share a new story with you. We know that water changes everything, water affects everything. Lack of water affects everything.
The depths of suffering without safe water are many and complex. To that end, I want to tell you the story about the Namoni Health Center, in our WASH (Water Access Sanitation Hygiene) Program Area (WPA) in Uganda. Namoni is a peninsula extended from Lake Victoria by a long stretch of road and roadside homes. Living Water Uganda began its work in this area in 2019.
Namoni Health Center in Uganda
The Namoni Health Center is the only health center providing antenatal and postnatal services in the region. On a monthly basis, the center serves approximately 3,000 people. As the only facility with antenatal and postnatal services in the area, almost all mothers seek service and care there.
This center lacked access to safe water. Yes, you’ve read that right. A birthing center serving thousands did not have access to clean water.
A LWI church mobilization group (CMG) started meeting at the small church which is located in the same area as the birthing center. On one occasion, while attending a CMG executive meeting, the LWI Uganda staff were appalled to see the state of a mother who had recently given birth at the center. As my LWI Uganda colleague, Peter Mwebesa says:
“She was returning home with a blood-stained baby while herself was dressed in blood-stained clothes. She had not taken a shower and had not bathed her newborn baby. On one of the meetings earlier, one of the health Centre staff had raised the issue of water crisis at the health center. It was from that and other experiences that the safe water crisis at this facility became a great concern to LWI Uganda.”
As I’m writing this, I’m pausing. Pausing to close my eyes and breathe. Crying out to the Lord in dismay for these women, babies and families who have endured this indignity, not to mention unfathomable health risk. Wondering where else in the world this is happening too.
By the grace and goodness of God, the LWI Uganda team was able to mobilize and respond. In 2021, the crisis was addressed through a solar powered piped water system with 10 taps. Sanitary sinks were also installed in the maternity and labor wards. The entire facility now has access to sufficient safe water.
A Midwife's Story
During an interview with Timugibwa Zaina, a midwife at the health center, she explained the changes experienced by her, her colleagues, and the mothers:
“I was posted here in May 2017. I was coming from a center with access to safe water. In Namoni Health Center it was different! We did not have any water. As a midwife, I could not wash the weighting machine regularly as prescribed, baby receiver beds were hardly cleaned. This exposed the mothers, babies, and us health workers to risks of infection. The only source of water being the lake, I would often leave the mothers unattended to and run to the lake to collect water. This would take me half an hour. I felt it dangerous to leave mothers without my attention for this long, but still we could not do without water, however unsafe and little it was. In many instances I would host 3 mothers at once.
Most embarrassing was that the water I brought would be just enough to clean the most basic parts of the mother. Many of them would not take a shower. They would go home using public transport. It is humiliating in our culture for a woman to appear in public with blood. I felt their dignity lowered. Sometimes the commercial motorbikes would refuse to take them as some riders believe the blood could cause a bad spell.
When the covid-19 pandemic came, the situation became worse. We were required to wash our hands at regular intervals. Living Water, noticing this challenge, provided a handwashing facility and liquid soap. However, the facility was empty most of the times. We still lacked water to wash our hands. We sometimes touched patients without washing and would not wash even after that. The community and the health workers were all at risk.
In 2020, the Church Mobilization Group started sensitizing the community about the need for household hygiene and sanitation improvements. This was done through meetings and training workshops by the churches. The health facility staff were also sensitized. We later learnt that this was in preparation for coming of safe water. In June 2021, the facility received a solar powered piped water system of 10 taps.
Currently, we have sanitary sinks with flowing water. After delivering a mother, I wash the tools under flowing water and disinfect them. There is water in the bathroom of the mothers. They can now wash themselves and their clothes after giving birth. The breast-feeding room also has a water tap. As medical workers, we can wash our hands as often as we want. Our bath shelters and kitchens were improved and installed with safe water. The number of mothers using this facility has grown because the center is very clean. The water is safe. None among the people using it has complained of any infection. I am a happy contented midwife. I feel safe and free. I no longer leave mothers on their own to rush to the lake and get some water. There is no more panic at the arrival of an expectant mother. I see the dignity of mothers restored as they go back home clean. The spread of covid-19 has been managed due to availability of water to wash hands.”
Advent Conspiracy 2022
This year, Dungeness, with a portion of your Advent Conspiracy funding, you are supporting a piped water system in Uganda that will reach more people through multiple taps. We remain so ever thankful for every project you have funded and are so eager to see the outcome for how YOU will bring life through piped water in Uganda.
Water means everything, to everyone… at every stage of life. We praise God for His urging to the Namoni Health Center and for provision that has restored health, hope and dignity in the mightiest of all ways for the most tender of all places.
Director of Philanthropy, West