Tag Archives: Water

Villages Transformed: Chad

In July of 2013, I made the trek to the Sila Region of Chad. At the time, my main objective was to document the beginning stages of World Concern’s One Village Transformed projects in 10 different villages. During a period of 3 weeks, I interviewed over 40 individuals and captured more than 4,000 photos. While in the villages, I listened to countless horrific stories of rebel attacks and displacement. I also heard stories of hope, resiliency, and a tangible eagerness to move forward and develop their communities into what they once were… and more.

One year later, in October of 2014, I had the opportunity to return to this scarcely documented and highly fascinating place. As can be rare in my line of work, I was able to reunite with people and communities. And this time I brought photos – frozen moments to serve as evidence of the ‘before’. Each photo tells a story of the major transformations that are taking place in Amkharouba, N’djamena, Harako, Tessou, Karona, Maramara, and Amkereribe villages – the ‘after’ and what is yet to come!

While in Chad, I was surprised to find that I barely recognized any of the villages. This was due in part to the recent rainy season, bringing with it bountiful crops and lush surroundings. It was also due to the fact that these villages are developing! Many now have clean water, schools, and better constructed homes. People look cleaner and are visibly more healthy.

Take a look at the following photos and see if you can see a difference from my photos taken over a year ago. Hopefully, you also don’t recognize these villages.

34-year-old Mademi tends to his improved harvest. “We have been learning about better planting practices and how to transplant seedlings," he shared. // Raibandala Village,, Chad

34-year-old Mademi tends to his improved harvest. “We have been learning about better planting practices and how to transplant seedlings,” he shared. // Raibandala Village, Chad

“After returning from the IDP camps, we had to start a new life, but now it’s going well.”

“After returning from the IDP camps, we had to start a new life, but now it’s going well.”

"I hope to use the money I borrow from my World Concern women's farming group to one day pay for my children's school." - Kouboura Mahamat

“I hope to use the money I borrow from my World Concern women’s farming group to one day pay for my children’s school.” – Kouboura Mahamat

This is hospitality. // Ambarto Village, chad

This is hospitality. // Ambarto Village, Chad

"During the war the rebels came and took all of our belongings. Because we have no clean water, our village is developing very slowly. But, we are thankful for new farming training from World Concern. I farm 6 acres: 2 acres for children, 2 acres for feeding, and 2 for trade." Mahamat Adam // Ko

“During the war the rebels came and took all of our belongings. Because we have no clean water, our village is developing very slowly. But, we are thankful for new farming trainings from World Concern. I farm 6 acres: 2 acres for my children, 2 acres for feeding, and 2 for trade.” Mahamat Adam // Kouraii Bechir Village, Chad

WIth the help of World Concern, Mahamat and his farming group were able to pay for a few horses.

WIth the help of World Concern, Mahamat and his farming group were able to pay for a few horses.

Groundnuts!

Groundnuts!

Kouraii Bechir, Chad

Kouraii Bechir, Chad

Time to let go after a long day in the field. // Ade, Chad

Time to let go a bit after a long day in the field. // Ade, Chad

Life of an aid worker. // Ade office, Chad

Life of an aid worker. // Ade office, Chad

Beautiful Sylvie. // Ade, Chad

Beautiful Sylvie. // Ade, Chad

Home. // Ade office, Chad

Home. // Ade office, Chad

When the solar power runs out... // Ade office, Chad.

When the solar power runs out… // Ade office, Chad.

Yaya and his daughter (one of his nine children). Yaya recently helped build thousands of bricks for the villages first ever school. // Amkereribe, Chad

Yaya and his daughter (one of his nine children). Yaya recently helped build thousands of bricks for the village’s first ever school. // Amkereribe, Chad

WATER! // Amkereribe, Chad

WATER! // Amkereribe, Chad

This group of ladies is preparing to operate Amkereribe's new mill. Not only will this business benefit their families, but it will improve the village as a whole.

This group of ladies is preparing to operate Amkereribe’s new mill. Not only will this business benefit their families, but it will improve the village as a whole.

We meet again! // Miriam Souleman, Amkereribe, Chad

We meet again! // Miriam Souleman, Amkereribe, Chad

Ready for school! // Amkereribe, Chad

Ready for school! // Amkereribe, Chad

Momma lovin'. // Amkharouba, Chad

Momma lovin’. // Amkharouba, Chad

Pumping water from the new well at dusk. // Amkharouba, Chad

Pumping water from the new well at dusk. // Amkharouba, Chad

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Guess which water is from the new well and which is from the wadi?? // Amkharouba, Chad

Guess which water is from the new well and which is from the wadi?? // Amkharouba, Chad

Evening light in Goz Beida, Chad.

Evening light in Goz Beida, Chad.

Harako Village is heading into their second year of school... ever. The community made all of the bricks for this building and the children already speak French!

Harako Village is heading into their second year of school… ever. The community made all of the bricks for this building and the children already speak French!

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Fixing up desks after their first year of wear and tear. School is back in session! // Harako, Chad

Fixing up desks after their first year of wear and tear. School is back in session! // Harako, Chad

Remember my friend Kaltam? Updates: she has another baby and she LOVES photos. // Harako, Chad

Remember my friend Kaltam? Updates: she has another baby and she LOVES photos. // Harako, Chad

Blacksmiths in Harako, Chad.

Blacksmiths in Harako, Chad.

The best interpreter and assistant. Meet: Aime.

The best interpreter and assistant. Meet: Aime.

Welcome to Karona - the village in the hills.

Welcome to Karona – the village in the hills.

Hassanie pumping glorious water from  Karona's first clean water source.

Hassanie pumping glorious water from Karona’s first clean water source.

The journey to gather water. // Karona, Chad

The journey to gather water. // Karona, Chad

The Chadian noonday heat is not a joke. // Karona, Chad

The Chadian noonday heat is not a joke. // Karona, Chad

Fatuma shows us her home that burned in the recent fires. Due to their resiliency, and your assistance, the community of Maramara were quickly able to rebuild what was lost.

Fatuma shows us her home that burned in the recent fires. Due to their resiliency, and your assistance, the community of Maramara was quickly able to rebuild what was lost.

More clean water! // Maramara, Chad

More clean water! // Maramara, Chad

Standing in front of Maramara's FIRST school.

Standing in front of Maramara’s FIRST school.

Meet Rose, another interpreter (and model) extraordinaire.

Meet Rose, another interpreter (and model) extraordinaire.

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These straws are woven together for homes, fences, and more. They are quite practical, but also dangerous due to the region's dry and windy seasons. // Maramara, Chad

These straws are woven together for homes, fences, and more. They are quite practical, but also dangerous due to the region’s dry and windy seasons. // Maramara, Chad

The walk to collect clean water in a village I hardly recognized. // Tessou, Chad

The walk to collect clean water in a village I hardly recognized. // Tessou, Chad

Tessou, Chad.

Tessou, Chad.

Ade Abdallah was not born blind. "Some years ago, I got a very bad headache and then I started to lose my sight. It is not easy to be blind in these circumstances, but I have been able to do things like help make bricks for our future school." // Tessou, Chad

Ade Abdallah was not born blind. “Some years ago, I got a very bad headache and then I started to lose my sight. It is not easy to be blind in these circumstances, but I have been able to do things like help make bricks for our future school.” I told him that his eyes are beautiful and asked to take a photo of them. He agreed. // Tessou, Chad

Rose enjoys a groundnut break. // Tessou, Chad

Rose enjoys a groundnut break. // Tessou, Chad

Tessou, Chad.

Tessou, Chad.

A Man and His Camels // A Series of Eyewitness Accounts [Part II]

The following is a brief Eye Witness Account [Part II] as shared by Saleban – a father and camel herder in Faraguul, Somaliland. 

I am uncomfortable.

The UV rays are direct, piercing through my thin cotton shirt. I immediately feel fatigued and sunburned. I’ve been sitting in the Faraguul afternoon sun for a total of 25 minutes.

While I had been sitting inside an air conditioned vehicle, 40-year-old Saleban had been walking for 3 hours, alongside his 30-strong herd of camels, to reach our meeting point. After using a tethered rope attached to a weathered plastic jerry can to draw countless litres of water, he finished rehydrating his long-necked beasts and proceed on the redundant 3 hour journey home.

Saleban does this every day.3 - Faraguul, school wat, well_999_288-138

Faraguul is a rural village located in the Sanaag region of Somaliland, the self-declared independent state of Somalia.

The climate can best be described as a semi-desert; Its flat, arid land stretches seemingly endless distances. Stoic trees can be found sparsely scattered between Somali homes and small variety shops.  A dried river bed divides the tiny village from a number of shallow wells, whose salty water is consumed by the antiseptic tongues of hundreds of camels and the lips of parched goats.

Though Faraguul is divided by a ‘river’, it is more a hallucination of what could be; the land is frequently plagued by devastating droughts.

“I travel this far because this is the nearest water source for my camels,” explains Saleban, his lanky figure leathered from a lifetime spent in the desert sun. “The journey makes me feel tired.”

Recently, World Concern partnered with the Faraguul community to rehabilitate 4 of their shallow wells.

“Before, the wells were made of wood,” says Saleban. “They were not covered so the water was very dirty. Even my animals didn’t like the taste, so they would only drink a little.”

A shallow well pre-rehabilitation.

A shallow well pre-rehabilitation.

I can’t even begin to imagine the exhaustion of walking six hours every day to water animals that refused to drink.

“Now the wells are better,” Saleban continues.  “They are properly covered and made of quality materials. My animals drink a lot of water.”

Though the number of hours Saleban spends walking in the scorching sun has not decreased, there are still tangible improvements. With healthier animals, Saleban is encouraged, in energy and spirit to provide for his family of ten.

Saleban's son cools off in the noonday heat.

Saleban’s son cools off in the noonday heat.

According to recent reports, only one in three people have access to safe drinking water.

Though progress is being made, 2.9 million Somalis are currently living in a state of humanitarian crisis. Like South Sudan, the situation in Somalia rarely makes headline news, but the severity of the crisis remains very real.

Let’s not forget our dear brothers and sisters. Stay informed:

  • 2.9 million Somalis are in humanitarian crisis
  • 50,000 children are severely malnourished
  • Women in Somalia face the second highest risk of maternal death in the world and babies are at the highest risk of dying on the day of their birth
  • 1.1 million people are displaced within their own country
  • Polio has returned, with 193 cases recorded in the last year
  • Just 30% of the population has access to clean drinking water
  • Fewer 1 in 4 people have access to adequate sanitation facilities
  • 1 in 7 children are acutely malnourished

Further reading:
Somali Children ‘at death’s Door’
Somalia risks “catastrophe” as warning signs echo 2011 famine – agencies

Strapping on collected water for the journey ahead.

Preparing collected water for the journey ahead.

Strapping on collected water for the journey ahead.

Recently rehabilitated shallow well.

Recently rehabilitated shallow well.

 

“Its water is soft like milk.” // Opportunity in Isolation

On the outskirts of Gawsawayne, a village that is itself located on the fringes, Amina Daar squats on the dirt floor of her Somali home, chatting with a neighbor.

Born and raised in the village’s minority clan, Amina is accustomed to life in isolation.

“I have always been in the minority clan,” shares Amina. “And because of this, no one can respect me.”

Along with seven other households, 40-year-old Amina and her 12 children are cut off from most all of the village resources and livelihoods.

“There is no water or food. There are no job opportunities,” she pragmatically explains.

Amina, twice widowed (tragically losing her first husband to conflict and her second to hepatitis), is her family’s sole provider. And following abruptly quitting her job as Gawsawayne’s lead circumciser, “It was a job, but it was bad”, she has been without a steady source of income.

Aside from belonging to the minority clan, life in Gawsawayne is challenging on its own.

Amina walks toward her home - one of seven in her minority community.

Amina walks toward her home – one of seven in the minority community.

Gawsawayne is a rural village located in the Sanag region of Somaliland. The climate can best be described as a semi-desert. Its flat, arid land stretches vast distances, as far as the naked eye can see. Stoic trees are found sparsely scattered between Somali homes and small variety shops.

Due to its drastic seasons, either rainy (read: flooding) or dry (read: drought), even the village’s majority clan can barely access enough clean water; they survive on the water collected in a few berkads (rainwater catchment systems) and shallow wells.

Amina drinks water gathered from the dirty, stinky shallow well.

Amina drinks water gathered from the dirty, stinky shallow well.

Amina, on the other hand, is not allowed access to these water sources. Thus, she walks two hours every day (four hours roundtrip) to gather water from a dirty, dirty (seriously, it’s so dirty) well.

“The water from the shallow well is not clean. It even has a bad smell. Its water makes us sick. And the couple of jerry cans I am able to carry are not enough to provide for all of the people in my family.”

For years, Amina’s clan has practiced traditional methods of medicine in an attempt to heal their ever-present stomach ailments.

“We take a stick with fire and burn dots on the skin around the stomach and liver – this helps to ease the pain and rid us of the sickness,” she explains.

Ironically, peering out of Amina’s doorway, the blaring noonday sun can be seen reflecting off of the metal slopes of a nearby berkad. Unfortunately, though it is in such close proximity, this berkad has been out of service for years – its life-giving source now an idle village landmark.

Amina stands in front of the recently rehabilitated berkad.

Amina stands in front of the recently rehabilitated berkad.

After discussing with Gawsawayne’s village elders, World Concern and the majority clan agreed to rehabilitate this now dilapidated piece of metal. Recognizing the need, the elders thought it best to give Amina and her community a beneficial resource as well as another means of income.

With anticipation, Amina illustrates, “When the rains come, the rehabilitated berkad will fill with water. The community has decided that it will be my job to sell this water to other people so that I can make money to feed my family and maintain the berkad.”

Not only will the rehabilitated berkad provide Amina and her family with funds, it will also significantly improve their overall well-being.

“YES,” Amina loudly proclaims, “this berkad will improve our health – we can use it for drinking and washing clothes! I will have more energy every day because I won’t be spending hours collecting water.”

Still stooped on the dirt floor, gazing out of her hut’s humble doorway, in a dream-like state Amina proudly aspires, “When I get enough money I plan to open a small shop…start my own business.”

As is deeply rooted in the Somali culture, whatever one has belongs to the entire community (in a short ten days, I witnessed this beautiful conviction lived out in a genuine manner). Amina’s neighbors, her community and family, will equally benefit from the refurbished berkad.

Still day-dreaming, Amina continues to describe her berkad.

“Its water is like soft milk.”

 

 

That Little Thing Called H20 // World Water Day

You guessed it, today is WORLD WATER DAY!

To be completely honest, when sitting down to write this blog (with a cup of coffee, made of water, of course)…I stared at my blank computer screen for a good 30 minutes. Despite the fact that water is important, I had nothing to say. I felt that anything I wrote would be redundant…I mean, there are so many water campaigns bombarding us on a daily basis. What else is left for me to say? What can I possibly write that will stand out from everything you’ve already heard?

But that’s exactly the point.

It doesn’t matter if it’s redundant. Water is important. In fact, it’s more than important. It’s a necessity. It’s crucial. It’s life-giving. It’s powerful. It can lead to beauty, healthy, growth and new life. It can also lead to destruction and death.

It is used for cooking, electricity, bathing, firefighting,………

People even write songs about it. Like this. And this.

It symbolizes peace, fluidity, and relaxation.

It covers 70% of our planet’s surface and makes up 70% of the adult body!

The United States uses about 346,000 million gallons of fresh water every day. (whoa)

It is a natural substance that I, without hesitation, consume gallons of on a daily basis.

Yet, there are humans, livestock, land, and crops that go without clean water, or any water at all, for months on end. Some go without clean water their entire lives.

Painting in Garissa, Kenya promoting drinking clean water.

Through my work with World Concern, I have been exposed to the painful effects that the lack of clean, accessible water can have on a community. I have heard countless stories of individuals who spend the majority of their waking hours traveling to water sources, only to find them contaminated. Their long journeys to and from a dirty water source often leave them without time to earn a living wage and properly care for their families. Kijoolu and Kiraposho are examples of such stories.

I have also heard countless stories of individuals who drink, wash, and cook from a Typhoid and Amoeba infested water source because it is the only option.

Dirty river in Garissa. Prior to World Concern's recent installation of water tanks, this was the community's only water source.

Dirty river in Garissa. Prior to World Concern’s recent installation of water tanks, this was the community’s only water source.

Washing in the dirty river.

Washing in the dirty river.

Contaminated water source in a village in Olkinyei, Kenya. Before the recent installation of a water pump, this was the option.

Contaminated water source in a village in Olkinyei, Kenya. Before the recent installation of a water pump, this was the only option.

Even living in Nairobi, a bustling city with plenty of water sources, I walk by individuals bathing in and drinking from the rancid, dark brown, murky river that runs through the city’s gutters and streets almost on a daily basis.

Garissa, Kenya

Garissa, Kenya

Okay – Yes I have to use a water filter and I don’t brush my teeth from the faucet, but I have no idea what it feels like to carry a 50 gallon jug of water on my back…daily. For miles on end. Sometimes multiple times a day.

Jerry can. Garissa, Kenya.

Empty Jerry can. Garissa, Kenya.

I also have no idea what it feels like to go a day without water (I am almost embarrassed to say this. I think I will do a water fast soon to experience a small sense of solidarity with our beneficiaries…). *

Here’s the good news. 

World Concern is doing our best to combat the lack of clean and accessible water for thousands of individuals around the world.

Currently, this is what we’re up to:

1. Partnering with communities to build their own water sources such as: deep wells, shallow wells, pumps, roof catchments, boreholes, berkads, water pans, and rainwater harvesting.

Water tank in Eastern Kenya

Water tank in Eastern Kenya

Water pan in Narok, Kenya.

Water pan in Narok, Kenya. Though it is not visible here, there is a large fence around the water pan to protect it from wild animals and contamination.

deep well in Chad

This picture was recently sent to me from Harako, Chad. These people are collecting clean water for the first time ever. I’m not kidding. Prior to a few weeks ago, the people of Harako had never had a reliable water source. They would gather water by digging into the sand with their hands. Because the majority of families have no pit latrines, the ground and water were unbelievably contaminated. World Concern sponsored the drilling of this deep well, which will produce 1,902 gallons of water per hour! This is also a great platform to teach hygiene and sanitation.

Another photo taken of the deep well in Harako, Chad. Photo cred: World Concern staff, Chad.

Another photo taken of the deep well in Harako, Chad. Photo cred: World Concern staff, Chad.

Berkad, Somalia

World Concern berkad in Somalia. Photo Cred: World Concern staff, Somalia.

pump, olkinyei

Pumping away in Olkinyei.

Large water tank. Garissa, Kenya.

Large water tank. Garissa, Kenya.

2. Educating communities about the importance of drinking, cleaning, and cooking with clean water. [Because many of the people we work with have never had access to clean water, they’ve never been aware of a life without consistent diarrhea and other uncomfortable waterborne diseases.] This includes the installation of latrines and hygiene education, also known as WASH (another acronym for ya!).

Fahad says, "We love clean drinking water!"

Fahad says, “We love clean drinking water!” Garissa, Kenya.

Gettin' after it. Thirsty, anyone?

Gettin’ after it. Thirsty, anyone?

Promoting hygiene. A hand washing tank outside of a World Concern pit latrine.

Promoting hygiene. A hand washing tank outside of a World Concern pit latrine.

VIP: Ventilated Imporved Pit Latrine.

VIP: Ventilated Improved Pit Latrine.

3. Partnering with communities to install water storage and rainwater catchments to be used for agricultural purposes.

Access to water means growing bananas!

Access to water means growing bananas!

If you’re reading this and feeling numb, don’t fret. In a sense, your numbness may be an affirmation that this news does not shock you – you are aware! Rather than feeling guilty about all of the clean water you can consume at any moment of the day, I encourage you to really consider how you can give clean water to just one other person. Start with one. One is huge. Progress from there.

Today, I also urge you to consider moving beyond awareness. Check out and donate to World Concern’s various water projects, pray, research, and spread the word. Maybe even go without a cup of water for a few hours.

Knowledge is power, but if it doesn’t move from our head to our hands, lives will not be changed.

 * Ironically enough, an hour after writing this post, I came down with a 12 hour flu. Needless to say, I had no more water in my system. I was super thankful to be near clean water sources during such an uncomfortable sickness.