Clean Water is Changing Lives in the Congo
CBN.com —Georgette Nyembo always wanted to have a big family.
“Since I was small, I used to say, ‘I’m going to have an orphanage.’ If someone would ask me, ‘How many kids are you going to have?’ I’d say, ‘a hundred,’ and they’d say, ‘a hundred kids?’”
Today, she has 54 children who call her Mama. “I feel I’m a mom. I know each child, and I know each child’s need.”
They live together at a children’s home supported by CBN’s Orphan’s Promise. Their house is high on a hill, in the outskirts of Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While the children had food, clothing, and shelter, they lacked one basic necessity. “Water is life,” Georgette said.
“Getting water was so difficult; it made me sick,” said 9-year-old Genovic.
Every day after school, Genovic and the other children went in groups to get water. The trip down took more than half an hour. “The place where we got water was deep in a valley at the bottom of a tall mountain,” Genovic said.
In the valley, filthy water collected in a hand dug hole in the mud. They filled their water jugs one by one. Then the children faced the long walk home. That trip took more than an hour, as they climbed uphill carrying their heavy loads.
“By the time I got home I was so tired I felt sick, and I couldn’t do anything else,” Genovic said.
“Sometimes the kids were not coming home after school, because they would say, ‘Okay, when I go back home, they will just send me for water. Let me just walk around.’” Georgette said. “And walking around, they are catching other habits, meeting other bad friends, who also do not like to go home after school.”
What they needed was a deep well, but there’s barely enough electricity in their area to power a light bulb. They knew that with God’s help, there must be a way. So every day, they asked God for a miracle.
“We prayed, truly,” Georgette said. “God saw that there was a real problem and He answered us.”
CBN, in partnership with the Alliance for Global Good and Innovation Africa, dug the well, nearly 500 feet deep, and installed an array of solar panels to power the pump. The day of the dedication was a huge celebration.
“It felt like a party,” Georgette said. “It was just like putting an end to one type of life and getting born into a new life.”
“I was so happy and so proud to have clean water,” Genovic said. “I felt like a heavy burden had been taken away from me.”
Innovation Africa is an Israeli NGO founded by Sivan Yaari. She studied solar technology at Columbia University, and installed her first solar powered well in Tanzania as a student project.
“Fast forward six years after, and we are lucky that we installed solar energy in 81 villages,” Sivan said.
Technology developed in Israel has helped tens of thousands of people in Africa. “Once you realize how simple is it to help others, you have to help everybody that you’re seeing around,” Sivan said.
“This partnership with CBN, Alliance for Global Good, and Innovation Africa, the Jewish values and Christian values coming together. This is what a really good partnership should be like. And I’m happy that we’re doing it now. And hopefully we can help many more orphans and people around Africa.”
Besides providing more than enough drinking water for the children, and the rest of the community, the well supports a drip irrigation system. In an area where it’s difficult to grow much of anything, the drip irrigation system allows the kids here to reap a small harvest practically every day.
“The tomatoes make our food taste so good,” Genovic said. “And Mama doesn’t have to spend any money to buy them.”
Genovic is a very bright girl, and now that she doesn’t have to go get water every day, she’s doing great in school. “After school I have time to rest and do my homework.”
“It just brings so much joy to see your own kids living like real people,” Georgette said. “Because carrying water, for me, is not like living like a person, in this century. It’s just like walking backwards.”
Today, even the littlest kids can help out with water. Sivan said, “The joy that you see in the faces of the kids when for the first time they’re seeing clean water coming out of a tap so easily. So all of the joys that we’re seeing today, I believe it’s something that will change the way they’re living.”
The solar panels also support a wireless transmitter that monitors the whole system. With it, an agronomist or engineer in Kinshasa, Israel, or New York, can see when the system breaks down, and send someone local out to repair it. This simple system will be reliable for years or generations to come. And it’s a system that’s changing lives.
“Kids are going to school,” Sivan said. “They want to be educated. They’re healthier. They have clean water. They’re clean. You go back after three months, they have food. The extra food is sold in the market. They get money. With the money, the women they buy cows, they buy chickens, they create businesses and you see economic development. Because of a few solar panels and water you are able to provide better education, better health, economic development, future, life opportunities.”
Georgette understands what this well means for the future of her children. “This is a starting point. God knows them and God is going far with them. Thank you for everything. We are thankful. My prayer is always that if you help us, help the kids, then they should see God’s hand differently; so that they believe that here there is a God. Let God bless them, and let them always be available for God to use them.”
Genovic just knows that she doesn’t have to walk down the mountain anymore for bad water. She has good food, time to study, and clean water right next to her house. “This is a year of God’s blessing. We used to be missing a lot of important things, but not anymore. We have water, and tomatoes, and more food than we ever have before. I pray that God will bless the people who helped us.”