Full Circle: Turning on Taps in Bwirambere

May 24, 2017

Two years ago we met Christine in Bwirambere. She was spending hours each day collecting water for her family. She had dreams of owning a clothing boutique, but she couldn’t even begin to think of those dreams because she was spending so much time getting water.

The ACTS team decided to walk with Christine to collect water, to experience her daily journey firsthand. Britney Berrner, ACTS’ visual storyteller, recalls seeing Christine’s water source. “That was the first time I’d seen someone accessing a really bad water source. I’d heard of it, and seen photos, but I couldn’t believe it.” The source was a swamp filled with algae. Garbage was scattered around. But Christine had no other option: she filled up her jerry can.

Executive Director Nate Lepp has worked as a tree planter and regularly hikes long distances, but when he picked up his own jerry can he was surprised by the pain involved in this work.

“After five minutes of walking with 40 pounds of water on my head I had to stop for a rest. I was fighting just to keep the jerry can balanced on my head, let alone walk with it.”

The experience inspired Nate to create our Walk for Water event as a way for Canadians to experience what Ugandans go through every day.

When they returned from the source, Christine began to speak of her mother Angela’s battles with typhoid and the ensuing expensive medical bills. But even amid these struggles, Britney recalled the family’s incredible hospitality: “Angela told me she was my Ugandan mother. She gave us food and so many hugs,” Britney says. “There was so much love and warmth and hospitality that they offered. It was inspiring. It was a really beautiful way to live.”

Then the ACTS team left, not knowing when they’d be able to bring water to this beautiful family. At the time, the Canadian government had dropped Uganda as a funding recipient, which meant ACTS had lost a major source of funding. Even though ACTS had planned to bring water to Christine and the rest of Bwiranbere as soon as possible, there was now so much uncertainty.

The team returned home and began telling Christine’s story to supporters. Our incredible community of donors stepped up in response, donating the funds needed to transform Bwirambere. The project was finally able to begin in November 2016.

At the beginning of May, the ACTS team returned to witness the first four taps being turned on in Bwirambere, one of which was in front of Christine’s home. She’d been out of town at university, getting the education she needs to make her clothing boutique dream a reality, but she returned home to celebrate the opening of this tap.

“I feel happy. I have no stress,” says Christine. Reflecting on her mother having typhoid, she says, “I know now with clean water she’s going to be ok.”

To the donors who gave so that she could have water, she says, “I’m really thankful for those people, for every sacrifice they have made to make us live a good life. Thank you, thank you very much.”

Just like she had two years before, Angela showed us uninhibited generosity, running to her backyard and returning with sugarcane and pineapple for the ACTS team. “She couldn’t let us go without our arms being full,” says Britney.

The ACTS team joined Christine and her family in celebration. It was incredible to see the joy that clean water brings. “It’s one of those moments where you realize, ‘It’s so much bigger than me,’” says Britney. “I just witnessed a family, a community of lives changed forever.”

Thank you for bringing water to Christine and her family. Four taps have been turned on, and 22 more will be completed by the end of June.

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