A woman with a child on her back splashes her face with water from a bucket near a handpump well while others watch from the rural community in the background.
Bearing her grandson on her back, Mary Lungu refreshes herself with clean water from a new well installed through the Wells of Salvation campaign.

Catholics Provide Safe Water to Thirsty Families in Ghana, Malawi and Zambia

“In the past, boreholes were poorly constructed and would fail within two to three years. Since Caritas and Cross Catholic Outreach have gotten involved, there has been a dramatic improvement,” said Bishop George Cosmas Zumaire Lungu of the Diocese of Chipata, Zambia. “Water flows, and the people thank God for this!”

In fact, Cross Catholic Outreach’s recent efforts to end thirst and protect families from contaminated water sources has blessed more than 62,000 people in three African countries, and all of them are thanking God for clean water!

Credit for this amazing accomplishment goes to the U.S. Catholic parishes, schools, groups and individuals who have enthusiastically supported our Wells of Salvation campaign to fund the installation of:

  • Two wells in the Diocese of Wa, Ghana.
  • Twelve wells in the Diocese of Karonga, Malawi.
  • Fifty-five wells in the Diocese of Chipata, Zambia.

That’s a total of 69 new wells providing an abundant supply of clean water to communities in need! Already many people are seeing a sudden improvement in their health, as well as many other blessings that naturally flow from the gift of safe water.

While each testimony featured here begins with a description of the hardships and tragedies inflicted by the water crisis, those stories end with lives transformed and hope restored. Together, they provide a poignant illustration of what is possible when Catholics stand together to share God’s redeeming love with those in need.

Last year’s achievement: Catholics Provide Clean Water in Three African Countries

Ending the Water Crisis in Zambia’s Chizula Village

A man and woman stand smiling, each with a hand resting on the handpump of a well, while children watch from the rural village in the background.
Benson Lungo and his wife, Emelia, are so thankful for the new well in Chizula Village.

As the headman (or chief) of Chizula Village, Zambia, Benson Lungo will never forget the many local children who lost their lives to waterborne diseases — among them young Rebecca and Manuel. All their names are permanently etched into his mind.

Benson wanted to be a good leader and serve his community well, and as a father to seven children, he was also desperate to protect his own family from harm. But without a clean source of drinking water, Benson felt powerless to keep everyone safe and prevent further tragedy.

“We used to share our water source with pigs, goats and dogs. Families suffered greatly from stomachaches and diarrhea,” he explained. “My wife would have to go to the river as many as 12 times per day to collect water. As fathers, as men in this village, we would feel scared when our children would get sick. We knew the cause was the dirty water, but there was no other option.”

The people in Chizula Village care for one another. Whenever a person is sick or encounters a challenge, everyone meets to discuss how they might help. With no resources to rectify the water crisis, though, the impoverished families were at a loss on how to address this most urgent issue — until our incredible supporters intervened!

Now that Chizula Village has received a safe handpump well, an enormous weight has been lifted from Benson’s shoulders.

“Our lives have changed!” he rejoiced. “We have also witnessed a reduction in malaria because the women and children no longer frequent the river where the mosquitoes breed.”

Benson’s wife, Emelia, also expressed her great joy at the immediate impact this has made on everyone’s lives.

“I used to start collecting water every day before 6 a.m. Now I collect water two times per day for cooking and bathing,” she said. “Our children are now able to go to school and have clean clothes. Even their teachers have noticed the change. It has also helped our children to not miss classes. We hope our children can go far in school and become teachers, nurses or doctors.”

How water access affects health and education: Providing Clean Water in Ghana and Malawi

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Mary’s Grandchildren Rescued From Waterborne Disease

One African woman helps another balance a large blue bucket atop her head before a brownish-green pond with lily pads floating in it.
Mary Lungu and her neighbor Veronica Mwagma used to collect water from this stagnant, contaminated pool of the Matonga River.

Benson’s wife, Emelia, has adopted a more hopeful vision of the future, and she’s not alone in her optimism. Mary Lungu, another resident of Chizula Village, is also breathing a deep sigh of relief. Both women are grateful that their children and grandchildren are finally free from the burdensome cycle of thirst, hardship and disease.

Mary grew up quenching her thirst with greenish-brown water from the local river, and she still vividly remembers the painful stomachaches from drinking that contaminated fluid. As she became an adult, she developed a higher tolerance for the waterborne bacteria, but that did not mean she was safe from pain. Her children suffered, too, and she eventually lost two beloved babies to illnesses and high fevers.

Mary felt the urgent need to protect her only surviving child, Florence, from a similar fate — but without access to a source of safe drinking water, she had no choice but to use the water that was at hand. She would grieve as she watched her precious daughter drink from the same river and suffer the same sicknesses that had plagued the family for generations.

Thankfully, God preserved Florence’s life, and Mary and her husband, Matthews, ended up with four beautiful grandchildren through their daughter. While they celebrated that blessing, Mary still lived with fear that those little ones would be at risk due to the community’s water crisis.

Praise the Lord — and thanks to our compassionate supporters — those fears are finally gone!

“I feel freedom and peace knowing I don’t have to take the grandchildren to the river to collect water,” Mary celebrated. “I want to live to see the children of my grandchildren someday. I pray my grandchildren will not have to go through what I have and that they will have better lives. Clean water gives them the best opportunity.”

Families such as Mary’s suffered pain and loss for many years, but they are finally feeling hopeful for the future. Before, it was so hard to see beyond the daily struggle for water and repeated battles with disease — but now, they look to the days ahead and see bright possibilities. What a powerful tale of redemption!

More on the water crisis: Why Do Some Nations Lack Access to Clean Water?

Clean Water Supports Integral Development

Three children lay smiling on a large pile of corn.
With improved health and access to water, families can also focus on other things, such as improving their crops. Here, the children of Tasiana Mkandawire in Malawi rest atop their family’s maize harvest.

Providing clean water is one important part of a larger plan to support integral development and foster lasting transformation in poor communities. In Ghana and Malawi, the Wells of Salvation campaign also helped provide:

  • Spiritual outreach, constructing one multipurpose building for spiritual activities and training lay ministers to reach out to their communities.
  • Education, constructing four new school buildings and giving children safe places to learn.
  • Health, creating a mobile clinic and providing housing, which will allow a rural health facility to hire and board a full-time doctor.
  • Food, distributing nourishing meals to 250 families and strengthening them with nutritional education.
  • Microenterprise, equipping 139 female entrepreneurs with small loans and business training to strengthen their household income.
  • Agriculture, empowering subsistence farmers to increase their harvests, improve their long-term nutrition and increase their self-sufficiency.

Each of these programs is playing a critical role in helping families find greater stability. In fact, many of the beneficiaries are now using the blessings they’ve been given to turn around and bless their neighbors in need.

In rural Malawi, for instance, families expressed overwhelming joy and gratitude for the agriculture program. The seeds, fertilizers and training they’ve received have helped their crops so much that the people literally danced and sang when a member of our staff recently visited their community.

“Thank you, Cross Catholic Outreach, for the seeds you have given us!” their voices rang out in harmony.

Through the agriculture program, participants learn sustainable farming practices that promote the care of God’s creation, such as optimizing moisture and conserving microbes that enhance the soil’s integrity. They also practice these techniques on a demonstration plot before they apply them in their own fields at home. The families then decide what to do with the harvest from the demonstration site — for example, donating the crops to mothers of malnourished children in their community.

The projects made possible by Wells of Salvation all work together to promote the good of the families served. Clean water and nutritious meals meet immediate needs and eliminate pressing health concerns, while agriculture, education and microenterprise promote long-term improvement and empower families to pay their blessings forward.

Transforming lives in Jesus’ name: Sharing Hope and Health Care Through the Church in Malawi

A Matthew 6:20 Investment in Eternity

 

One young woman smiles brightly as she pumps water from a handpump well while another young woman stands beside her smiling.
In Zambia, Mailesi Zulu (left) and Christine Phiri (right) said they can now easily wash their clothing with clean water that does not smell bad. This means so much to them!

Matthew 6:19-21 reads, “Do not store up for yourselves treasure 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.”

We at Cross Catholic Outreach are so deeply grateful for every person who stepped forward to bless poor families through Wells of Salvation. We believe that by doing so, they have made a heaven-minded investment in things that have eternal worth — the well-being of our neediest brothers and sisters, their salvation and the glory due to our Jesus!

Because of that investment, families are being empowered to rise beyond their challenges. They are encouraged to see the hand of God working mightily in their lives, delivering them from illness and pain, and leading them into a new era of greater security. They are even in a better position to reach out and invest in the lives of others who remain in dire need.

As Bishop Lungu said, water is flowing; people are praising the Lord. And we believe these truths will multiply abundant blessings for many years to come!

More Opportunities to Bless a Life: How To Help the Poor This Christmas

Donations from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.