Two villages in Uganda have fresh water thanks to McFarland Lutheran Church and other donors and businesses in McFarland.
Wells in Nyakesi and Pajabobi were recently dedicated by seven members of the congregation. McFarland Lutheran has long-established ties to Uganda, and members have made frequent visits.
The two new wells bring to three the number of fresh water wells McFarland Lutheran has financed in Uganda in cooperation with Water4Kids, International. The nonprofit Water4Kids aims to restore hope through safe water one village at a time. The first MLC well was bored at Sesera.
“This congregation is one that has a feeling for serving our neighbors, whether they be here in McFarland or across the ocean,” said Bonnie Dirks, who led efforts locally and on the trip to Uganda.
Dirks has made 15 visits to Uganda.
Joining her on the most recent trip were MLC members Dale Marsden, Jim and Linda Ellestad, Gudrun and Adam Sindermann, and Ron Vandeberg, chairman of the Global Mission committee that organizes and oversees the Uganda project.
“’Water is life’ became our theme this trip,” Dirks said. “A lot of the sources of water that the villages use have dried up. There is no food. Children get sick; children die.”
The MLC delegation also took 700 pounds of clothing for children, plus school supplies and medical supplies gathered by congregation members. The clothing included dresses made from T-shirts and pillow cases, baby clothing and T-shirts for boys. Uganda social service agencies assist in the distribution of the clothing.
Congregation members also led in washing the feet of widows, a message of Jesus’ love for a class of people often disregarded in Uganda.
“The pastor in the area never thought he would see such a thing in his life as men washing women’s’ feet,” Vandeberg said. “Elders of the villages (all men) respectably watched … but did not participate.”
The new wells are essential. Obtaining water is difficult and dangerous in remote areas of Uganda, and it is the girls in a village who are always assigned to walk miles to collect water for the day. That water is often contaminated.
“The distance makes it very difficult for young girls twice a day, to get the water,” Dirks said. “It takes all their time and, thus, they aren’t able to attend school, because they are so busy getting water. And it is also a dangerous trek for them. Human predators, as well as animal predators, wait for these girls.”
Plans are already underway for another Walk4Water in September to raise funds for one or more wells to be dug next year.
“I see a growing number of people (in the congregation) who will go (to Uganda) and will continue to return,” Dirks said. “My goal is to excite other people and get them enthused about the mission.”