Lifewater Canada builds wells for communities in need
WHEN SAFE water flows freely from kitchen taps, it’s easy to forget how devastating contaminated water can be. Lifewater Canada, a small Canadian charity with project sites in Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Haiti, works to bring safe, clean water into communities.
"We work intensively with local teams to train, equip and empower them to be able to do the work of repairing pumps and drilling wells," says director Lynda Gehrels of Thunder Bay, Ont. (www.LifeWater.ca).
In the ongoing pandemic the need for clean, safe water is amplified even more as the simple act of handwashing slows the spread of the virus. "Our local teams are deemed an essential service and have been able to carefully continue their business," says Gehrels. "The water still flows," despite global travel restrictions, ongoing lockdowns and shipment supply delays.
Communities rally together to pay for a well and the hired local team installs it, providing a sense of ownership over the project. Local instructors are also hired to teach water and hygiene workshops. Gehrels recalls the story of a grand-mother who attended a workshop after her three grandchildren had died from contaminated water. She had returned the following year to share how the workshop had helped her provide life-saving information to her family, saving her niece’s life.
Gehrels says their work impacts girls especially, who typically have the household chore of hauling water. Girls who once hauled 25 kg buckets of often contaminated water from distant water sources are saving an estimated 31,147 hours per month, according to Life-water research.
Gehrels shared how Lifewater Canada was founded on a single question asked by a pastor in Liberia who said, "How can I preach the gospel, how can I share the love of Christ with somebody who is dying because they don’t have safe drinking water?"
Since its inception in 1995 Lifewater Canada has drilled more than 1,729 new wells, repaired an average of 50 hand pumps a month, rehabilitated 269 old wells and constructed 109 new washrooms around the world. The small charity, with only three part-time Canadian staff, has been recognized by Charity Intelligence as a top ten charity for donor impact and one of only 11 charities in Canada with an overall A+ rating. –KAELYNNE MAKAN