The colorful plastic buckets most of them carry hold 5 gallons of water. The weight of water is 8.3 pounds per gallon. Light as air at the beginning of the journey, the filled buckets become heavy burdens balanced on their heads for the trip home. The singing and dancing never stops.
The precious water will be used to make porridge, wash dishes and clothes and bathe children before they go off to school. Not a single drop is wasted. The used dishwater and bathwater is collected; some goes to the chickens and other animals. Some goes to the small kitchen garden.
Projects include piping water into homes, providing tube wells, boreholes or rainwater storage systems, digging wells, installing flush toilets and septic tanks, and improving pit latrines and sanitary facilities.
Global Ministries reports that more than 750 million people around the world do not have reliable water access and even fewer have access to water for agriculture and household tasks.
More than 2.4 billion people lack sanitation facilities.
Isidro Cumaio starts his story by saying, “It is difficult to find a good driller.”
Cumaio, who founded his drilling company in 2014 with the support of his sons, has three good drillers in Adelino Cumbane, José Chambe and José Conjo.
Cumaio is a United Methodist and his faith is at the core of his inspiration and work.
“There are places where women spend the entire day walking to a water source,” he said, sitting in his office.
Sometimes the women construct a small shelter by the water source and spend the night there after walking all day, he explains.
“They get up the next day and walk home to prepare meals and then go to fetch water again,” he said. “Women go fetch water with 20-liter containers. They won’t get home with a full container because they get thirsty, or they spill some of the water on the way back.”
Children and pregnant women have to help retrieve water and do household chores or work in the fields. If children can go to school, they have to bring water to their teachers.
“Do you understand how their lives will change if they get clean, safe water in their villages? They see the drillers coming and they follow, running and celebrating. There is hope.”
DRIVEN BY NEED
The weight of the water bucket cruelly constricts her neck, shoving her head down into her shoulders. The skin on her dark face shakes with the effort to stand up. Each step she takes pounds her bare feet into the earth, sending up puffs of ghostly dust. The bucket on her head holds 20 liters of water, about 44 pounds. The jug she also carries holds another 20 liters.
Like the other women in her village, she is driven by the constant need for water.
Lameque Mbulo is a small village near Homoine, Mozambique. The walk to the Domo River takes about an hour. They dip their containers into the same water that cattle and other animals drink from, walk through, defecate in. Most children start to help fetch water around 9 years of age. The job usually goes to the girls.
“You can’t get used to this, but we have no other way,” said Hortência Joaquim on the walk to the river.
“We go twice a day. It is tedious, but this is where we are, where we are living and this need for water is why we have to walk,” agreed Maria Pedro Matsimbe.
“I am very excited. I am missing words to express the joy and thanks to have water nearby,” Matsimbe said, watching the drillers prepare their work.
Mike DuBose, United Methodist News