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Water is Life

News--Martha and Bosco

In Rwanda, there is a saying that some of you may have heard: Water Is Life. In the Bible, water symbolizes a multitude of spiritual themes, including repentance, salvation, God’s provision, and service. If you were to undertake a thematic study of water in the Bible, it’d be difficult to exhaust all of your resources.

We all know that a person can live without food for weeks, even months, but a person will die in a matter of days without water. Whether considering water to drink or water for baptism or water to bathe or water to tend to the sick and dying or water to cook food and wash clothes—I believe that we’d all agree that water is indispensable.


Dilemma In Rwanda, there are many people who have little access to water, which is one reason you see tanks that collect rain water near homes. When I am there, I’ve learned to bathe and even wash my hair with a total of only two thermoses of water! On my most recent visit back there in June, I was especially moved to see how difficult it is for villagers at two of our “Villages of Hope” to walk to retrieve water. And it isn’t just about distance. The closest water supply is down steep hills with large stones and sharp, long, vertical ravines. Imagine how hard it is for villagers to haul enough water back home for drinking, cooking, washing, bathing and watering a few plants in one’s subsistence garden. If you are elderly and/or struggling to walk, who will help you retrieve the water you need? Yes, you might hire someone to assist you, but where will the money to pay that person come from?

National Dilemma Recently, Godfrey, the director of the Dufatanye Organization (DO), told me that there is a continuous competition between two groups in Rwanda for food and water. Naturally, I thought of the two main ethnic groups in the country who have historically striven against one another. I was wrong. The two groups that Godfrey referenced are human beings and cows! Sometimes, people prioritize their cows over family. And no, this is not India. Cows are not necessarily sacred, but they are a primary source of wealth for many people. In the 1930s, a family with ten cows was assigned one ethnicity. A family with less than ten cows was assigned a different ethnicity.

Water source at the Dufatanye Organization Fortunately, at the DO’s headquarters, there is a man-made lake that is a dependable source of water for our fields and livestock. But transporting that water can be challenging. We use a wide hose to carry water from the lake under a road and onto our property where an irrigation gun then sprays it onto our crops and other vegetation. Of course, this is not the same as a good soaking rain, but it helps to maintain our gardens and fields during the long, dry season from April through September when it often doesn’t rain at all!

Thank God for a new irrigation system! More recently, we have extended our growing area’s border, which fans out and then angles up a small hill to the right. Our irrigation gun and its long hose cannot reach that far. Up to now, we have had to use basins and watering cans to water by hand over five hundred apple saplings that we bought in Kenya in early spring and planted on this extra property. Watering all of those saplings almost every day is a long, tedious, and expensive job. But thanks to one generous donor, we are now building our own irrigation system using pipes and a diesel-powered irrigation gun. I am so grateful that we will soon be able to properly water these young apple trees during such a long, hot, dry season.


Construction of the water purification system

Thank God for a water purification system! Not only that, another generous donor contributed monies over a seven year period to enable us to build a water purification system that provides clean water for people to drink. When people get their drinking water at our purifying system, they don’t have to boil it. This makes a huge difference in people’s lives. It saves time, energy, natural resources and money. I am thrilled that our long-range goal to build this water purification system has become a reality. Let us thank God for His provision!