Safe Water, Courtesy of
Mozambicans benefit from Christian aid
BY WENDI ROGERS, Maranatha Volunteers International
hen Amelia heard drilling and hammering next door to her small, cement-block house, she didn’t realize it signified a big change for her life. She and her 11-member family are accustomed to walking the one-kilometer journey to the water well every day, filling their 25-liter jugs with polluted water, and hauling them back home for cooking, drinking and cleaning.
As the nine-meter-high drilling rig navigated its way through the sandy roads of Amelia’s Mozambican village, she learned that clean, pure water would be accessible just meters away. And, she wouldn’t have to pay the required 50 meticals, or U.S. $2, each month.
Amelia’s village is just one of hundreds to receive a water well and a new church building. Built by Maranatha Volunteers International, a non-profit humanitarian organization run by Seventh-day Adventists, the new churches represent more than just a place to worship.
Kyle Fiess, Maranatha’s vice president for marketing and projects, says the churches are a complete package. “We’re building churches and schools for Adventist congregations, which is important, but we’re also providing literacy classes and leaving a water well that will benefit the entire community.”
FIRST TASTE – A child gets their first taste of fresh water in their village. [Photo: Dick Duerksen, MVI]
Mozambicans suffer illnesses and water-born diseases from the lack of clean water. When Maranatha field staff asked the question, “How much water did you drink today?” they often heard the answer, “Maybe half a cup.” Other times the answer was, “None. I haven’t been to the well today.”
Fiess says that when Maranatha began constructing churches in Mozambique, field leaders continuously reported about the difficulty of finding water for the construction process. “It was common to drive 20 to 30 minutes before finding a dirty pool of water to fill their water barrels,” he says.
Field reports began to focus less on logistical problems related to finding water for construction, and more on the human need for clean water. “Our field leaders told stories that made the construction needs insignificant. We realized that if we could help provide water in every location where we built a church or school, we could make a massive improvement in the quality of life for people in Mozambique,” Fiess explains.
Maranatha called Garry Berndt, an experienced well-driller from the United States, and asked if he would come to Mozambique to assess the situation. He volunteered to direct the well-drilling project, and his crew now moves from site to site with a brand-new drilling rig.
“I feel great for the people,” Berndt says. “I'm glad they can have some good, clean water, and it'll be closer to home, and it'll just be a real help for them. That makes me happy.”
“It makes life so much easier for the people here,” says Gerald Paul, part of Maranatha’s well-drilling team in Mozambique. “You imagine carrying 20 liters of water for two or three kilometers every day. It's an amazing feeling to see water coming out like this and seeing the joy of the people around.” He adds, “This is really nice, clean, crystal water. As pure as you're going to get anywhere else.”
The church buildings are also being used for literacy education classes, which are held in partnership with the government of Mozambique. In a country where four out of five women and one out of three men cannot read or write, finding and keeping a job is difficult.
“It is a hard life because we don’t have normal conditions,” Matola says.
Amelia represents the typical Mozambican woman; the hard-working mother who spends her days walking for polluted water, cooking for her family, and doing her best to keep the family alive. She can’t read or write her own name, and she doesn’t have a job that brings income. She’s most likely never left her home village. Amelia’s education, like most typical Mozambican children, ended around age 8.
Literacy classes are another Adventist-sponsored innovation for the community.
With literacy classes held in the new church next door, Amelia will be able to attend each weekday afternoon. The Mozambican government provides the curriculum, and the teacher is typically a member of the Adventist congregation. Amelia’s opportunity to work, learn and progress will no longer lie behind the iron bars of illiteracy.
“We thought using Maranatha churches for education would be a great outreach as well as a tremendous benefit to the people of Mozambique,” says Fiess. “So we contacted the government and offered our churches as a place to hold classes.” The government already had a literacy education program in hand, but they didn’t have places to hold classes. “Our churches are perfect for this opportunity,” Fiess adds.
“They won't only learn to study or know how to read, but something bigger in their future, which is to learn about Jesus, his love and his life,” says Helena Simoque, literacy education director for the Adventist Church in Mozambique.
“Some people who are attending the literacy classes have started coming to church,” Moises Esteves, secretary for the Adventist Church in Southern Mozambique, says.
Maranatha has completed their first two schools and the first 45 churches and water wells in Mozambique. The organization hopes to build several hundred churches and an equal amount of water wells before they finish their work in that country.