THE LIVING WATER
Every Tuesday at 5PM we would arrive at Palaung village to have what we call Cell Groups; a meeting full of worship, prayer, testimonies, teachings of Biblical stories, games, and of course, to share some snacks with almost 50 kids that would come to join us.
One boy about 6 years old would always stay a little distant, not get involved with the cell group, and was somewhat rejected by the other kids.
We started inviting him and trying to get him involved, but the rejection was real. He was always very dirty and wore the same t-shirt and shorts every week. After asking a few questions, we learned that his family had issues with drugs. The dad already had mental problems, as well as his mom, and his 16-year-old sister had been expelled from the village because of constant theft. And besides these two children the couple also had twin girls about 2 years old and another child only a few months old. All of them were always very dirty.
All of that caught our attention, and we decided to try to understand how this small village with about 500 residents of the Palaung ethnic group received its water supply. We were told that the water came from a mine between two mountains, which during the drought that can last up to 8 months a year, the little to no rain would affect the entire village, and thus they received water only one hour per day.
We saw that many of those families utilized that mountain water without any treatment to take showers and wash clothes. And in order to drink water or cook they had to go to the central part of the village where there was an artesian well and they filled up plastic bottles with the untreated water.
Since the water came from the mountains and was limited, many families ended up not being able to take showers, and with that the children were the most harmed, spending perhaps days with no showers.
We had to do something, we had no option, and we had no money, but the Lord is the One most interested in helping people, especially those in a difficult situation like those families. So I shared with a friend who lives in Macau, China, about the need of that village, and he was promptly willing to help.
We talked to the village leader and scheduled a meeting with the entire community, where we presented our Living Water Project. This entire village is 100% Buddhist, but in the evening when we held the meeting we made it clear that Jesus had sent us there to help them.
We asked what they wanted us to do regarding the water supply, and they told us that it was necessary to change all the pipes because they were very dirty and had been installed over 25 years before. Besides that, they said it was needed that there be a small dam to contain the water in the middle of the mountains.
We told them we would do whatever they needed us to do, but we said we would need their help also, and that we would buy all the supplies but that they would help with labor. However we had something else in mind. We would install a filter to filter the water from the artesian well so that the whole community could drink filtered water. Every one celebrated at that moment.
The entire project cost us about 6 thousand dollars, and we needed to change about 1800 meters of pipes, build two cement dams between the mountains, put up two big containers to receive the water from the dams and then send off almost 2 thousand meters downhill until it got to the big water tank that already existed at the village, and after that 600 more meters of piping to distribute the water to some houses that did not have any.
Besides that, we built a small roof for the two water tanks in the central part of the village. The entire community got involved. They took turns in the work to conclude the project in the fastest manner, because they were almost running out of water.
And we, well, we could not contain ourselves with so much joy by knowing that over 500 families were benefiting from this project.
The village leader later on confided with us that his own father had drunk that water for many years without any treatment, and it contained many minerals or other sandy material, and because of that his father had passed away with kidney problems, and besides him many others had kidney problems too.
As we took the village leader to buy the supplies for the project he asked us many questions and showed how happy he was with the project. He said that he had asked for assistance from the local city hall, which stated they had no finances to help them. He asked for help from the small Buddhist temple in the village, which also denied help, and said that now, we, who were foreigners and Christians, were helping them.
He said that for many nights he could not sleep, because the people of the village would come to his house asking for a solution since they were having many problems with the water. He said he didn’t know what to do, and many times he cried at night for not being able to meet the needs of his people.
The Living Water Project was successfully completed, and now the entire village benefits from the water from the mountain and drink water filtered by two types of filters, the best found in the region.
The resources came mostly from a Chinese sister whom my brother in Macau knew, and upon hearing of the project decided to help. She said that this would be a tool for that people to see Jesus.
Our little friend I mentioned in the beginning of this text, well, besides having inspired us by his life unaware, now comes to our cell group every week, and most of the times he comes clean.
To Jesus belong all the glory and honor. We finished the Living Water Project to demonstrate how much the people groups forgotten by society.
Text by Kelsimom Fiuza