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New Well Promises a Brighter Future for African Village

In a remote Uganda, villagers are desperate to find water. To help those threatened by sickness, starvation, and death, CBN stepped in with technology to change their lives. Read Transcript


NARRATOR: As the sun rises over Karamoja, Uganda,

the sound of singing fills the air.

Young and old dance as won while prayers of relief and gratitude

are lifted to heaven.

Among those celebrating is [INAUDIBLE],,

a well-respected elder in her village.

Like many, she prayed for this day for a very long time.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: This is the first time I ever had clean water.

For years, I've been in pain from drinking dirty water.

Now, at last, my pain is gone.

NARRATOR: We flew to this remote corner of Africa,

crossing a wide expanse of barren landscape,

and met up with Sivan Ya'ari from Innovation Africa,

an Israeli ministry supported by CBN.

I have been in Africa for many years, almost two decades.

There is no doubt that here in Karamoja,

the need is much greater than any other place I've been.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: There is a famine in the land.

Water is life.

Without it, we cannot do anything.

NARRATOR: Before the wells were drilled here,

daily desperation consumed people's lives.

They did what they needed to survive as death

crept around every home.

Each morning, people start fires.

Some clean their homes.

And others harvest reeds or chop wood.

But every family had one main goal for the day--

finding water.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: In times of drought,

we go very far in search of water.

The water is always dirty.

My whole family has been sick because of it.

NARRATOR: Many are forced to share their water

sources with animals.

INTERPRETER: After chopping wood all day,

I went to our spring to drink water.

But the cows trampled the water, and it was too dirty to drink.

As I walked back home, I almost fainted.

NARRATOR: Out of options, she went back

to the murky pool, bent down, and drank muddy water

she shared with cattle.

In the peak of the dry season, sometimes there

isn't even muddy water.

This region is called Nakapiripirit, which

literally means "heat waves."

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH].

INTERPRETER: We've all tried to grow crops,

but at times like this, there is nothing we can do.

The sun burns it all.

SIVAN YA'ARI: They don't know from where to get water.

There is no water to be found.

And [INAUDIBLE] for the mothers, our effort to find some water--

most of the time, it's so contaminated.

And they know that most likely, it will make their kids sick.

Many of them are praying that their children will not

die from thirst or from the contaminated water.

But they have no choice.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: I remember walking an entire day

in search of water.

I spent hours digging without finding any.

I was very weak.

And it took me eight hours to get home.

I saw someone with a little bit of water and whispered,

please help me.

I am thirst.

But children had already finished it.

I fell down, exhausted.

My throat was too dry to speak.

So I whispered a prayer to God for water.

NARRATOR: When the crops fail and they have nothing to eat,

people pick tree leaves.

So this is what they subsist on.

It hardly has any nutritional value at all.

And it doesn't taste like much of anything.

It's just sort of bitter.

Now, most of the time, they'll boil this in muddy water

and salt. And [INAUDIBLE] tells me

that when there's no water at all,

they'll boil this in cow urine.

INTERPRETER: Instead of coming home empty handed,

we bring the cow urine.

You drink it or use it for preparing food.

After drinking, you feel like you're vomiting.

But when you vomit, nothing comes out,

because you are starving.

NARRATOR: Many people suffer from a condition

called Brucella from eating contaminated food.

INTERPRETER: One of my children lost all of his hair

and had open sores on his head.

I knew it was because of the urine and dirty water.

I don't think that people are realizing how

harsh is it for so many people.

The starvation is forcing people to eat

leaves, mice, drinking the blood of their animals

just to survive.

INTERPRETER: In terms of famine, we

drain some blood from the cow and drink it to survive.

We don't normally do that.

But when there is nothing else, we have to.

NARRATOR: The cows don't die from the bloodletting.

And they're not killed for their meat.

They're kept so drinking blood can always

be a last resort for survival.

Not one family has been left untouched by the lack of water.

Many, including Lucia, have dealt with death.

INTERPRETER: I remember when I was pregnant.

I was carrying water home from the contaminated stream.

I had been sick for days from drinking the water.

A terrible pain tore at my inside,

and I realized I was having a miscarriage.

I thought I was dying.

I got very cold, and every part of my body ached.

It felt like my life was over.

I know it happened because of the water.

NARRATOR: Sivan saw firsthand what

happens to the elderly in times of drought and famine.

Old woman is about to die [INAUDIBLE]..

I don't understand.

What?

MAN: An old woman.

Yes.

MAN: She is helpless [INAUDIBLE]..

She is about to die from hunger.

There's no food.

She's about to die?

When I arrived, I couldn't believe it.

And when I went to the first village,

I saw elders that were dying from hunger.

I felt hopeless at that point.

I've never seen anything like it.

Only in the past few days, we have

heard of 37 people who have died of thirst.

INTERPRETER: There was an old lady that died in her house.

She was as thin as a reed.

She was dead for three days before anyone found her.

She was so dried up, we didn't even smell her body.

NARRATOR: During these times, only the strong can bear it.

Elders and young children suffer the most.

INTERPRETER: It pains me to see my grandchildren thirsty

and going hungry.

Sometimes, they are too weak to get up.

I give my food to the children.

Then I kneel down, make the sign of the cross,

and God comes and takes my hand away.

SIVAN YA'ARI: As a mother of three children,

it is heartbreaking when I see the children suffering.

But even worse is when they look at the mothers

and how they are hopeless, because they don't know

how to save their children.

INTERPRETER: I went on my knees and said, God,

You are the one who gave me these children.

Why have You given them to me only to take them away?

There is no one who can help us apart from You.

NARRATOR: Then one morning, [INAUDIBLE] and the others

heard a sound almost like thunder outside their village.

Two large trucks arrived.

As they started drilling, the news spread quickly.

Their lack of water would soon be a thing of the past.

CBN teamed up with Innovation Africa

and drilled not one but four wells in this region.

When water erupted for the first time, animals from far away

sensed it and walked miles to drink.

Children played and people gathered from a dozen villages.

More than 10,000 people now have fresh, clean water.

SIVAN YA'ARI: It seems like they've been waiting for us.

And they keep saying that they knew

we will be coming, because they were praying God.

And they knew we will be coming and they will be saved.

INTERPRETER: This is the first time in 30 years

that I don't have to search for water.

I cannot believe it.

Just as God rescue Daniel from the lion's den,

he has rescued us today.

NARRATOR: With the drilling complete,

we built towers in hoisted tanks to store the water.

[CHEERING]

Through the use of Israeli technology,

solar panels provide the energy needed to power deep well

pumps.

SIVAN YA'ARI: The same sun that is making them

thirsty, the same sun that is drying their land

is today the same sun that is providing them with water.

It's the energy from the sun that

is now saving people's lives.

As the solar panels are being installed back here,

all the women of the village have turned out

to sing songs thanking the people of Israel

and praising God for bringing water to a place

where it was desperately needed.

In fact, this barren corner of Africa

almost became the new Jerusalem.

In 1903, the land of Karamoja was

offered to the homeless Jews from Europe.

This could have been the homeland of the Jews.

Today, more than 100 years later,

CBN and Innovation Africa have come

to share the same Israeli technology that's

transforming the dry deserts of Israel into fertile farmland.

SIVAN YA'ARI: I believe that Israel

is nothing short of a miracle.

When you think about all of the innovations that are coming out

of this small country, as Israelis,

we feel a sense of pride to come to Karamoja

now that we are strong to be able to share the blessings out

of Israel.

It's emotional for us.

And I'm happy that we had this opportunity, especially

with CBN, to come together as Christians and Jews,

and to be able to help.

Without us coming together here, thousands of people

would have died--

absolutely, no doubt about it.

[CHANTING]

[CHEERING]

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: I cannot believe it.

My grandchildren are really enjoying the water.

Now, they can drink water whenever they want.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: I love drinking the water.

It tastes so good.

It is priceless when we are seeing the joy

in the eyes of the mothers, their hope when

water is flowing.

It's worth everything.

And I wish that the donors could see it and understand

the impact that they are making the lives of so many people.

NARRATOR: We gave all of the families

here seeds to start new gardens.

We're also giving them food to help them get

by as their crops begin to grow lush and strong.

INTERPRETER: Just as God has blessed the water,

he will bless the seeds you have brought.

NARRATOR: The towers and tanks provide enough pressure

to pipe water a mile or more to nearby villages.

People gladly work together to dig trenches and lay pipes

so their villages can have water too.

With fresh, clean water, sickness

has drastically decreased.

[INAUDIBLE] and her family even welcomed a healthy baby boy

into the world.

INTERPRETER: Having water has changed our lives.

Everything is better.

We can finally we grow our own vegetables,

and even sell them at the market.

SIVAN YA'ARI: Once they have access to water,

everything changes.

People are-- they can wash themselves.

They are no longer thirsty.

They grow food.

Children can go to school.

People are healthier.

INTERPRETER: It is so wonderful being clean.

Before, we only washed during the rainy season.

Once the season ended, we stayed dirty, sometimes

for nine months.

Now, I bathe every day.

I am so grateful.

NARRATOR: Just hours after the first taps were opened,

people did laundry as clean clothes waved in the wind,

cook pots boiled, and streams of people

gathered water to take home.

INTERPRETER: I know that God has answered our prayers.

The grandchildren of my children will not

suffer like we have suffered.

SIVAN YA'ARI: What we are doing here--

it's not only for now.

But it's for many generations to come.

It's the beginning of a better future,

for even centuries to come.

INTERPRETER: Thank you for bringing us water.

I love you all very much.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: God is so great.

He has answered our prayers through the people

of Israel and CBN.

Thank you.

May God bless you all.

[CHEERING, APPLAUSE]

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

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