Clean Water, and Chickens!
The newest members of the FARM STEW family have feathers! During our recent travels in Uganda and South Sudan, Dr. Sherry and I were gifted not one, not two, but FIVE live chickens! Dr. Sherry, a retired medical doctor and FARM STEW board member, was presented with one of those chickens in Mogogo, Uganda (below) during a celebration involving four villages impacted by FARM STEW.
What exactly were they celebrating? Freedom!
The FARM STEW Trainers had gathered volunteers from each of the villages for the big day, and some had prepared skits to perform. They all deserved Oscars! Several groups dramatically depicted the difference FARM STEW has made in their community, and they reminded me of Jesus’s powerful and prophetic words, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”(John 8:32)
One of those skits, performed by the Mogogo village FARM STEW volunteers, helped me understand the freedom FARM STEW brings in a new way. The first scene depicted a sick woman with an intestinal disorder stemming from poor sanitation and unclean water (above). They acted out their reality before FARM STEW when they didn’t know about sanitation. She heaved and writhed in intense anguish. Several family members came to her aid.
The family members in the skit wrongly assumed that the sick woman was being bewitched by her neighbors’ or others’ curses. The accusations towards community members began to fly.
Can you imagine what it would be like if, every time a family member fell ill (which is quite often when you have no clean water), it caused suspicion and strife among the neighbors? Before this skit, I hadn’t grasped just how much damage these beliefs could cause in a community. Hatred and even tribal warfare can be fueled by little fires of suspicion that blaze out of control. Isolation and fear rule the day.
Add to that the dire consequences of poor sanitation and unclean water that causes over 300,000 children to die from diarrhea each year. Lack of clean water is a significant reason that Sub-Saharan Africa, where FARM STEW is concentrated, has the highest under-5 mortality rate in the world, with 1 child in 13 dying before his or her 5th birthday. This is life before FARM STEW!
Without clean water and improved sanitation, millions of children are at risk of dying and communities will be plagued with dissension. The early part of the Mogogo skit described this vicious cycle with a dramatic impact. Will you say NO to this bleak future by saying YES to FARM STEW today?
With your help, change is possible. I’ve now seen it happen in Mogogo and many communities because past gifts have brought FARM STEW trainers and, most recently, new wells. Your gifts give freedom!
We witnessed this change in the second part of the skit, depicting life after FARM STEW. Two actors, Richard and Niaga, portrayed FARM STEW trainers arriving and explaining what was really wrong with the desperately sick lady. They shared the importance of handwashing and latrines and demonstrated how to build a dish drying rack with sticks to prevent dirt from splashing from the rain onto dishes. They advised the sick woman on how to clean her home and take care of her children. Neighbors helped neighbors to get their FARM STEW Certification so that, together, they could become a FARM STEW Certified Community, making them eligible for a new well.
Most importantly, Richard and Niaga shared FARM STEW’s central message, that Jesus loves the villagers and wants their families to have an abundant life, now and for eternity. He is the source of all genuine freedom and the inspiration for each of FARM STEW’s 5 Freedom Priorities!
Then, with great enthusiasm, the actors shared the biggest news to hit Mogogo in decades: there is a new well, thanks to many donors and FARM STEW! Praise God that, thanks to the generosity of many, the new well in Mogogo (above) is providing clean water! It was drilled last year, but they saved the ribbon cutting for Dr. Sherry and me!
In the skit’s final scene, rather than accusing one another of curses and witchcraft, the neighbors worked together. The sheer beauty of it all would have caused overwhelming joy, except that there were 3 communities represented at the event that STILL need a new well for their village. Overall, there are now 30 FARM STEW Certified Communities still waiting for access to clean water.
Will you help end their wait with a generous gift to FARM STEW’s Freedom from Disease and Drudgery Priority? . Each of these people has done their part and is now waiting for someone like you to place them in a position to help themselves.
After the skit, Richard helped Dr. Sherry and I understand the meaning of waiting. He’s a committed Christian FARM STEW Volunteer in his early 50s (above), who passionately described when he was a teen in 1986 and the government promised to put a borehole water pump in the village. This promise had excited him because, like every other Mogogo child, Richard spent hours every day heading to the swamp to get water, alongside animals and women washing clothes.
When he finished sharing, Richard took a group of 30 of us to that same swamp. About 15 kids who were with us all testified by raising their hands (see below) that this was where they fetched water from before the FARM STEW well. It was a long and muddy walk up a steep hill for them to go home. I couldn’t imagine carrying over 50 pounds of water over that terrain, but the children of Mogogo had done just that nearly every day of their lives. Not only was the walk difficult and time-consuming, but the water from the swamp was also dangerously unsanitary.
Sadly, Richard’s hope went unfulfilled for 35 years, and the drudgery of hauling water and the devastating diseases that came with it weighed heavily on his heart. But there was just no way that their rural community could collectively save the money required for a new well– not when the average Ugandan rural villager makes less than $500 per year.
Hope began to return two years ago when generous gifts to FARM STEW made it possible for us to send trainers weekly to Mogogo and each community represented during the celebration. Then, last year, their hard work combined with your generosity made Richard’s dream come true. After 35 years of waiting, Mogogo got a well! That’s the impact of your gifts to FARM STEW’s Freedom from Disease and Drudgery Priority.
Will you consider a gift today to answer the prayers of other villagers?
As part of the celebration, we gathered around the well. As the cold water gushed out, the village women clapped and sang joyfully as we celebrated the life-giving water that now streams into Mogogo village. And, yes, Dr. Sherry and I (see below) were each handed a live chicken as a sign of gratitude for the blessings they’d received.
By the way, it’s a big deal to be given a chicken in Africa. When I told Pastor Clement, the President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South Sudan, about our chickens, he said, “They must REALLY love you!” They love you too because it was the FARM STEW Family, in partnership with God, that sent us and provided the trainers and the well!
Richard’s final words made me think of our theme verse, John 10:10, in which Jesus described the thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy. He declared that the Mogogo villagers had “gotten rid of enmity towards each other!” He went on to say, “Now we have only one enemy and this is the devil - who disorganized and divided us.” In other words, the truth has made them free!
How did the villagers of Mogogo, Uganda “get rid of enmity”? Through YOU!!
You probably already know that your gifts are helping to plant gardens, teach nutrition and help to start small business. But did you realize that you are also changing the spiritual and social fabric of villages, making relationships possible, and uniting communities under the banner of Christ?
Oh, and the chickens? They are YOUR chickens! We accepted them on behalf of each of you who have made the miracle of abundant life happen. We were able to free them in Mogogo, and at last check, they were still running happily around the village. We named them Faith and Charity, signifying the faith we have in your continued love and charity to those who need a helping hand.
Thank you for all that you do and will continue to do in the coming months and years to promote freedom in communities like Mogogo!
Joy Kauffman, MPH
Founder and Executive Director
See the video of the celebration using the QR Code or visit: www.farmstew.org/post/richards-wait-is-over.