TANZANIA, AFRICA -- The drive from the crowded, busy city of Arusha, Tanzania, quickly turned into a 2-hour gravel, and sometimes off-road trek to this very remote village of people from the Maasai tribe.
"Here we have the Maasai people who co-exist with the wildlife," said a Tanzania pastor, Pastor Vomo.
Many of the villagers turned out to welcome their visitors and proudly show off the solar powered water well-- dug deep by Springfield based charity WorldServe International that transformed their lives.
"We thank you very much!"
"Water is transformational, it changes a community, it's the basis for all development," said WorldServe president John Bongiorno.
The beautiful, clean, life-giving water flows now, but before this well was built, it was a much different story. The work of water gathering traditionally falls on the women of the tribe, often walking up to 8 miles in one direction to fill buckets with water, and it's not even clean water.
"That water is contaminated. Not only with cattle dung and human extract, but also with fluoride. That is mineral prevalent in the Rift Valley area and this mineral fluoride is responsible for stunted growth and also to the point of bones in the children. So ground water is the solution for many of these issues," explained Pastor Vomo.
The wells change the lives of these Maasai tribe members for the better. It helps prevent disease. Vomo told us that water-borne illness is the number one killer of children on the continent of Africa. The well also saves women from animal attacks on long trek to get water, and it frees them up to do other family duties.
In fact, the key holder to this well is a woman.
Now that the well is up and running, it supplies clean water to 7,000 people, plus thousands of livestock. The tribe members asked WorldServe to build them a church at the well next. They said it was their number one need. Bongiorno says that is a recipe for long-term success that his organization has seen time and time again.
"We're going to go back in 10 years and if you have a church next to a water project, that well will still be operating. The church will take responsibility for that because that's what the church does. It's there to minister to the needs of people both physically and spiritually," Bongiorno said. "People have a thirst, not only for physical water, but there is a thirst in their heart for spiritual water. I think it's a tremendous opportunity to be able to share love with people and share the love of Jesus with them. Not only giving a cup of water in His name, but also to meet their spiritual needs by giving them a church."
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