Message from the Executive Director

In June of this year, as part of ACTS annual pilgrimage to Comox, I was asked to share a few words at a St. Peter’s Anglican Church service on the topic of “Unexpected Grace.”

Author and theologian Frederick Buechner says this about grace: “Grace is something you can never get but only be given. There’s no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth.”

As I considered these words, I found myself watching our most recent video of Zoreka. For most of Zoreka’s life, access to safe water was a dream that felt impossible. Living in rural poverty, his community’s collective earnings were not sufficient to build their own water system. And then, someone from ACTS arrived and said, “If you want it, we will bring you water.” Talk about an unexpected grace.

Gratitude enlarges us, making room for love received and given in myriad life-giving ways.

I feel utterly humbled by Zoreka’s attentiveness to grace. I find it all too easy to focus my attention on what’s lacking. And yet grace is all around, if only I take a moment to notice. Endless striving shrinks the heart, leaving little room for others. Gratitude enlarges us, making room for love received and given in myriad life-giving ways.


Nate Lepp
Executive Director

I am called Zoreka John

I met Zoreka on my first trip with ACTS to Uganda in April 2014. He’s a shop owner, a tap stand chairman, and a respected leader of his community. After a short conversation in his home, drawn by his kindness and passion, I did something I rarely do while travelling: I promised to return.

A year later, I did just that, visiting Zoreka once again in Rubingo and hearing his story.
—Nate Lepp, Executive Director

My name, I am called Zoreka John.

I am a resident of this area. I have a family. I am married with six children and five grandchildren. All of us are lucky that we have a water tap.

We all know that water is our life. Most of the things around us depend on water.

Before this water came in 2003, people used to go to some quite distant places to look for water.

The situation was terrible. Most people were suffering from an unknown sickness because of using dirty water. When you are using this dirty water, you can easily suffer from flu, easily suffer from cough, easily suffer from malaria, easily suffer from diarrhea, easily suffer from so many things.

“This water is near. It is just in front of me. Even if I am crawling on my knees, I can’t fail to get that water.”

But since we got this water, no way.

For me, at my age now—I am at 68 years. This water is near. It is just in front of me. Even if I am crawling on my knees, I can’t fail to get that water.

The tap itself it is really so helpful. Not to me alone, but even to the passersby as they come. They stop there, they drink, and off they go. Some of them I just tell kindly, Please, let me give you a glass of water. You drink and off you go.

On behalf of all water users, I thank you so so much. I encourage you to extend that kindness to other areas where they need this water.

An Update on Boaz and Rawlings

In the fall of 2014, ACTS hired Rawlings Akamanya as Field Engineer and Boaz Muhangi as Community Water Governance & Management Specialist. Both Rawlings and Boaz must navigate the cultural questions that come into play when new infrastructure like a Gravity Flow System (GFS) is introduced to a community.

Rawlings has had a particularly eventful time since he joined ACTS, marrying Olive Batamuriza (who also joined ACTS for a year) and welcoming his daughter, Kukunda, into the world. He has challenging work for a new dad, with many days on the road, but he says, “God is helping us learn to balance the two.”

Rawlings




rawlings


As ACTS’ Field Engineer, Rawlings supports the construction team on active projects and performs engineering audits on past projects. He has completed two full audits so far (Nyakyera and Kinyumafura) and will complete two more by March 2017 (Rubingo and Bujaga).
Rawlings looks for issues that the community needs to address, keeping in mind solutions that he can offer using local materials and making notes so that future projects can be further improved. These improvements include:

  • adding markers so that pipelines can easily be found
  • recommending scheduled inspections of the system
  • giving caretakers more training
  • reinforcing better sanitation around taps

He’s also making connections at the government level so that communities are able to receive long-term support in GFS maintenance.

Boaz






Boaz, whose role has been supported through funding from Urban Systems Foundation, has focused on building relationships between community leaders and water recipients. Community leaders are charged with managing and maintaining each GFS and collecting nominal user fees to pay for ongoing maintenance costs.

Through meeting with both recipients and leaders, Boaz has learned that transparency and participation are key. Getting more community members involved, especially women, allows water recipients to voice concerns directly, which leadership can address. Receipting user fee payments and showing how the money is used encourages all community members, including those who are reluctant, to pay the small fee.

Boaz says that the biggest lesson he’s learned is that all members of the community need to be involved right from the start of a project, even before ground is broken. While this has always a priority for ACTS, it’s clear that we need to spend more time focusing on this transition, so that the community takes ownership of long-term maintenance and sustainability.


As Boaz and Rawlings learn from their time in these communities, they are learning lessons that will help ensure clean water continues to transform Uganda for generations to come.


Download our Print Newsletter

Stay Connected with updates from Acts for Water