Local mission seeks funds for Ugandan water wells

Ugandan children spend their day looking for water, usually returning with contaminated water.

EL CENTRO – Burning Bush International (BBI), a local organization, is reaching out to a devastated, war-torn area in Uganda, and is digging deep to provide its people with a most basic need – clean water.

The faith-based organization has met the needs in the country of Uganda for several years, providing humanitarian relief and economic stability along with evangelism, as well as working with schools, and aiding in healthcare.

One major aspect of the organization’s aid comes in the form of deep water wells. In Uganda, an estimated eight million people live without access to safe drinking water, which is 20 percent of the country’s  population. Burning Bush International works in the rural area of Ngora/Teso, an area devastated by the Joseph Kony and Karamojong Tribal raids, where almost all of the inhabitants were without clean water, until BBI started providing wells about two years ago.

It is estimated that the women and children in the rural area spend up to three and a half hours a day walking many miles to retrieve water, which is often contaminated.  This contaminated water is not typically boiled before it is consumed, which leads to an enormous amount of water-borne diseases.  According to Burning Bush, about ten percent of children die before the age of five, usually due to these water-borne illnesses.

Burning Bush recognized the need in the Ngora/Teso area, and to date, has provided 12 wells to the area.  Each deep water well assists about 1,000 people, providing a way for villagers to have clean water and a short walking distance to gather water. With the new wells, villagers typically travel less than one mile for clean water instead of the many miles they used to journey before, only to receive contaminated water.

According to Burning Bush, when the basic need for clean water is met, school attendance and literacy rates are also improved, as children no longer need to spend much of their day fetching water.

The organization, which was founded by Imperial Valley locals Jim and Nancie Rhodes, has a goal of bringing 22 wells to the area. They are on their way to reaching that goal with 12 wells already provided, and four more fully funded. The group employs a professional Ugandan drilling company to drill the wells, working in conjunction with and under the blessing of local and regional Ugandan government water authorities, Rhodes said.

They negotiated a deal with authorities whereby they drill five wells at a time, for a discounted price, considerably less than the $10,000 cost of drilling one individual well.

Even though BBI has four fully funded wells, they are in need of funding for one more well in order to begin drilling as per the deal, and the total cost for this last well is $7,000.

Once the wells are in place, the surrounding village will elect a committee which is responsible for maintaining each well. Families in the village each pay a small fee that also covers equipment repairs as needed.

“Considerable effort goes into educating each village about their responsibility to maintain each well properly,” said Rhodes. “Although our donors provide initial funding, it is expected that each village/committee will be responsible for well maintenance. When this approach is followed, wells should have a life of 25 to 30 years.”

Burning Bush officials said they would like to get the work started on the five new wells within the next month and are asking for donations to fully fund the last well so the work can begin. The group expressed high appreciation to all donors and said donations can be made online at www.bbiuganda.org, or by mailing a check to the organization at 225 Wake Ave. #101, El Centro, CA, 92243.  All donations are tax-deductible, and one hundred percent of donations go towards the organization’s’ efforts.

If your family, service club, or church would like more information about this project, call 760-604-6310. More information is also available at www.bbiuganda.org.