Are you searching for a Christmas gift for that person in your life who’s tough to buy for? How about honoring them with the gift of a well—or part of a well? Amazingly, a well in northern Ghana can be dug for $3,200.
Wells are Dug One Shovelful at a TimeCompassion for Africa hires local labor to dig wells by hand. One of the many benefits of a hand dug well (see picture above) is it provides jobs for local people. By engaging local labor, it gives local people an opportunity to participate in the well’s construction. In this way local ownership of the project is fostered and wells are dug “with” local communities rather than “for” them.
If soil is sandy, an entire well can be dug by hand; but, in cases where the soil is extremely rocky, an augur is brought in (hiring an augur significantly increases the cost of a well). If large rocks prevent further digging, dynamite is used. Usually, wells need to be dug no deeper than 40 feet, even in the desert-like conditions of northern Ghana. After a well is dug, it is lined and then a pump is installed. The top of the well is sealed with concrete that forms a trough down which excess water runs and is caught in one or two small holding areas from which animals can drink water that would otherwise be lost.
How One Well has Benefitted the Galenzewu Community
Tamale, Ghana, however, it’s more like 1,500 or more. When I was in Ghana this last summer, I asked some of the people in the Galenzewu community how the well CFA sponsored has helped their lives.
A woman with a small baby told me before the well was dug she walked 3-4 hours a day to fetch water. She expressed heartfelt thanks that God has used the Church of the Nazarene to bring clean water to her village. She said she has not only received spiritual help from Christ as her Living water, but the water from the well has cut down problems of cooking, bathing, and washing clothes. Life is much better for her now, she says, because her children are healthier and experience diarrhea much less frequently.
One man told me: “In Christ there are many blessings. Water was a very big problem for us before the Church of the Nazarene came to our village. We had to travel very far for water and the people near the water made us pay for it even though cattle drank from it and defecated in it.”
The Galenzewu community’s old source of water was so dirty that before drinking it they had to wait over night for the sediment to settle. And, even then, the dirt never completely settled. As a result many children got diarrhea, ring worm, and died. Water used to be the most difficult challenge to the village of Galenzewu. Since the digging of the well, the people in Galenzewu have been healthier, there is much less diarrhea, and fewer children are dying. The people in Galenzewu are also very careful to conserve the water in the well, using it only for drinking and cooking. Both men and women told me many times: “Our words cannot express how truly grateful we are for the well.”
As Christians we believe that clean water promotes health and saves lives which God created in love. Jesus said, “Whatever you did for the least of these [such as giving the thirsty a drink], you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
God bless you and your families as you consider gifts for those on your Christmas list. A gift of $10, $25, $50, or $100 in honor of a loved one will give the gift of clean and living water to the thirsty in Ghana this Christmas.
Executive Director, Compassion for Africa
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