Children carry five gallon water buckets on their head.
Children in Zambia carry water back to their homes after collecting it from a far-off source.

Quench Thirst in the Heart of Africa

Give drink to the thirsty is one of the seven corporal works of mercy found in Catholic social teaching, and Cross Catholic Outreach is responding to that calling by mobilizing the Church to address an urgent need for safer, cleaner water in Africa.

In Zambia and Malawi, people in remote villages often have no choice but to draw their water from contaminated sources like ponds, rivers or shallow wells, and this has created a daily fight for survival. Women and girls are among the hardest hit by this crisis. They are typically responsible for the time- consuming task of water collection, putting them at risk of injury and illness. The long journeys they must undertake also rob them of the time they need to succeed in school.

A Zambian Teen’s Story

A teenage girl collects dirty water from a hole in the ground.
Miriam wants to work in the medical field when she grows up. But right now, the biggest thing holding her back is the impact of drinking contaminated water.

Miriam, a teenager in Zambia, has had to make these long treks, even though neighbors in her village have heard news about a recent lion attack. Dangerous animals are one of the reasons Miriam never stops to rest during her hourlong journey every morning to fetch a bucket of contaminated water from a hand-dug pit.

Sadly, while she is a teenager, Miriam has only made it to second grade. In her village, educational delays like this are tragically common, and the current hardship with water collection is one of the reasons.

“When we are sick from the water, we miss school, so it makes it hard for us to achieve our dreams,” Miriam said. “It gives us little time to do our homework or study. I pray for a good life free from illness.”

Together, we have the ability to ease these burdens for girls like Miriam in the heart of Africa. To address these heartbreaking challenges and build a brighter future for struggling communities, Cross Catholic Outreach is partnering with the Diocese of Chipata and the Daughters of the Redeemer in Zambia as well as the Diocese of Karonga and the Diocese of Mzuzu in Malawi!

Give Drink to the Thirsty: The Church’s Mission of Mercy

A priest in white vestments lifts his hands while celebrating Mass outdoors.
Fr. George celebrates Mass outdoors at the Mwambula Outstation in Zambia.

In alignment with the Church’s value for integral human development, our Wells of Salvation outreach will install 104 new wells and repair five existing wells to bring safe, clean water to 49,000 people in more than 100 villages and one primary school in Zambia and Malawi.

Last year alone, gifts from generous U.S. Catholics enabled our ministry partners to bring overflowing clean water — and abundant hope — to more than 130,000 people in Africa Yet, many still suffer.

Father George Dalitso Banda sees Zambia’s immense poverty daily as he serves distant and underserved villages in the Diocese of Chipata. It’s clear that faith is strong in these rural outskirts, but this humble priest is troubled by the conditions his brothers and sisters in Christ must endure.

“It’s a sad situation that currently there are a lot of people who are sharing water with animals. And some of the water that people are drinking is contaminated,” Fr. George explained.

“These people are struggling. As you can see, many of us here can barely even afford to buy shoes.”

U.S. Catholics Can Help Change Lives

Throughout the Lenten season, U.S. parishes, schools, groups, families and individuals are participating in the Wells of Salvation outreach to provide a brighter future for struggling African communities. And there is still plenty of time to join this cause and make a difference!

By engaging your parish in this urgent mission of mercy, you can help quench thirst and transform lives. It is the perfect opportunity for families to put their faith into action and strengthen the poor with a much-needed reminder of God’s love! Let’s work together to install clean wells, water systems and sanitation blocks this Lent! It’s easy and we’ll work closely with you to ensure your outreach efforts are a success.

Get your parish involved.

Donate to Make a Difference


Proceeds 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.