I have just returned home from a 10 day trip to Burkina Faso, Africa. I saw hunger, disease, hope, joy, generosity. I felt hot, dusty, thirsty, loved, appreciated, encouraged, hospitality, inspired. I was filled with heart-breaking experiences that consumed my heart with compassion. I wish I could put it into one simple post and tell you what what all this means. But I cannot.
“Let’s dig one more well!” I said on Christmas Eve. Not knowing that the FaithWorks! families would step up and share enough money to dig four more. Clean water. What a Christmas gift!
Clean water. That’s what took me to Burkina Faso. I was eager to see the wells already dug by Clay Church and the FaithWorks! kids. I was eager to meet the people we were helping. I was eager for us to share more. I was eager to meet the people who would be digging one soon.
Here’s one well we visited. This is one paid for by the FaithWorks! families!! It’s located in a village named Bopla (pronounced Baa-PLAA). The pastor wrote the name in the sand so we could understand what he was saying! You can see in this photo graph that it was dug by hand and still visible are the foot holds carved into the sides so that men could climb in and out as they worked.
The wells are dug by people in the villages but the men are not paid for their work. The thought is that if they dig their own well, by their own hands, they will cherish it and care for it and make sure that it’s maintained for the future. It is not an easy job. Yet a huge accomplishment when finished.
To give you an idea of what it takes, here are some pictures from other villages where we are digging wells. In some places, they actually use a branch to help find where to dig for
water. The magnetic properties (I may have the science wrong here!) in the water draw the branch upward as it’s held at the waist. Sounds crazy, but as you can see, I tried it and it worked! We were about 20 feet away from the well.
In one village we visited, the men were actually in the process of digging. By hand. This man was very proud to have his picture taken! And I think he should be! He was covered in dirt from head to toe.
John Arnold, a missionary working with Engage Burkina, is showing us here how they use a stick to make sure the well is a consistent width all the way down. They take this stick down with them and turn it around to ensure that all sides are even. The next picture is two men measuring how deep the well is. They had dropped a rope in, marked it, pulled it out, and are measuring with a tape measure. Getting deep, but still need to keep going!
If you look close here, you can see someone down in this well! He is standing on a ledge. You can’t tell in this picture, but there’s actually someone even down deeper. He is doing the digging. He would fill a bucket with dirt and send it up to the guy here we can see. Then that one centers the bucket and tells the men up at the opening to haul it up. The bucket is emptied and sent down again.
One bucket at a time. Up comes this sandy, rocky, earth. Until water is hit. Clean water.
These curved bricks are being dried so that they can then line the walls of the well and build a chimney-like top…which could eventually have a cap and/or a pump: the next step in sustaining a well. Finding clean water is the first step. Keeping it clean is necessary for it being a real benefit for the people.
You know, in the United States, we say we work hard to make a living, accomplish a goal, get our homework done, win the game, etc. Here, in Burkina Faso, people are working hard to have their basic needs met.
Clean water. It looks different to me today than it did two weeks ago.