Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We are Blessed

While my Mom and I were in Florida my Dad was on the other side of the world drilling for water.  He, along with seven other men from our church, spent a little over two weeks in Burkina Faso with the hopes of bringing water to the people of this poor country.  They were working with Friends in Action  on their Water of Life Well Drilling project.  None of the men from our church were engineers however, they were willing to work hard slugging equipment and digging.  They worked with two trained engineers who live there full time and direct the missions group.  Not all of the teams they work with our successful in finding water but our team drilled two successful wells.

Burkina Faso is located in West Africa and is one of the poorest countries in the world.   Drought, poor soil, lack of adequate communications and other infrastructure, a low literacy rate, and an economy vulnerable to external shocks are all longstanding problems. Many families send the wives or children over four miles round trip to collect water.  Friends in Action works to bring water to the communities and help eliminate the long walk to get water.  Water provides an opportunity to connect with the people of these communities.

The children come from all over to sit and watch the teams dig for water.  They have to draw a line that the kids must stay behind, for their own safety, because they are so excited and interested on what is happening.  Little kids come barefoot without any supervision and watch for hours.  This really took the team, especially my Dad, by surprise.  With three small grandchildren, my Dad was shocked at how little some of the children were running around unsupervised without shoes on.  There is no way I would let the Boss out of my sight at such a young age.

The team was successful in bringing water to two separate communities.  The people go wild when the water comes flooding out of the well.   They spray kids down before they begin filling containers for the people.  Word of mouth travels faster than Twitter and Facebook here.  Minutes after the water starts flowing there are people ready to fill their jugs to take home.  The team was shocked at how fast word spread.

Few of the people have formal education. Schooling is free and compulsory until the age of 16, yet only about 80% of primary school-age children are enrolled in primary school.  In one of the communities they were drilling in there was a one room school house where kids could go to learn the basic skills needed to attend the public schools.

These children have so little.  One of the highlights of the day was when the men were cleaning up for they would take their garbage out to the kids for them to play with.  When my Dad told me this I was horrified...can you imagine what one of our kids would do if a group of men handed them garbage to play with?  It seemed so pretentious in some ways for the men to hand these poor children their garbage but at the same time they wanted it so badly, it would have been worse to not give it to them.   We often take for granted how blessed we are.

 The children fighting over the men's garbage.  They would swarm whoever had the bucket. I love this tiny little girl to the right in her pink shorts.  I just want to take her home.

 Making the kids line up for the garbage and take turns selecting what they would like.  This was very foreign to them.  They come from a culture of survival of the fittest.  The biggest kid normally gets the best piece.

This little girl is so precious.  They let her pick what she wanted and she choose a coke can.  This seemed to be the first choice of many of the kids.   They had a game they played with these cans.

It's experiences like this and the devastation in Japan that makes us realize just how blessed we are.  I can't imagine living in conditions like this and celebrating water and garbage the way these kids do.  This makes me very grateful for everything we have.  It's a constant reminder to be grateful for the the little things in life.  I am so proud of my Dad for what he did and so grateful for this opportunity for him.

Look how cute my Dad is...we were disappointed that he shaved his Papa Smurf beard before we saw him.

If you are interested in supporting this project feel free to contact Friends in Action here.

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