Ever since the Zambian community of Mbingwa was established in 1940, its residents have collected their drinking water from a small tributary locally known as the Manyanya River. This unprotected body of water, shown in the photo above, is easily contaminated by parasites, bacteria and waste — but families in the area have no other option for quenching their thirst.
Local women have tried to find ways to make the water more drinkable — digging holes in the riverbank in hopes the sand will filter out some of the contaminants, for example — but despite their best efforts, they still end up with an unappetizing puddle of murky brown water for their children to drink.
Even the daily task of collecting water in Mbingwa is a hardship. Because it takes so long for the water to filter through the sand, scores of women must wait their turn to fill their containers. To beat the crowds, Donaliya Zulu and her neighbors rise long before dawn and arrive at the river in the wee hours of the morning. Still, they always end up spending too much precious time drawing up the water they need.
“Sometimes we come at 1 a.m., and we have to wait for the water to come up,” Donaliya said. “[We fight] over the water and who was first to come because the quantity of the water is not much. We have to wait for a long time to fill our containers. We are [also] drinking together with animals. As you can see, their droppings are all around. We really need assistance with safe drinking water in this village.”
Women like Donaliya have lost countless hours to the painstaking process of water collection, and their children have suffered innumerable bouts of diarrhea and disease because of the contaminants in the water they drink. If this perilous cycle continues, it is likely to create even greater challenges for their sons and daughters.
Fortunately, though, the Church is working to provide solutions and end the suffering caused by water scarcity. This Easter season, Cross Catholic Outreach is again partnering with the Diocese of Wa in Ghana, the Diocese of Karonga in Malawi and the Diocese of Chipata in Zambia to share the mercy of Christ by providing deep, clean wells — in addition to sanitary latrines and empowering educational opportunities — and we are calling on U.S. Catholics to join in this life-changing outreach!
U.S. Catholic parishes, groups, families and individuals are invited to participate in the Wells of Salvation outreach — an effort that is sure to transform lives for generations to come. Working in unity, we can provide:
Anyone interested in joining this merciful mission can begin by visiting CrossCatholic.org/Lent. There, you will find more information about the goals, the locations and the people whose lives will be blessed.
The Gospel reading for Ash Wednesday, taken from Matthew 6:19-21 says: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
This Wells of Salvation outreach offers a special opportunity to follow our Lord’s example, give sacrificially for the benefit of others and “store up treasures in heaven” by blessing families in need. Together, we can link arms in a Corporal Work of Mercy that will give drink to the thirsty and reach tens of thousands of hearts with Christ’s love.
Learn more at CrossCatholic.org/Lent.