Thanks to our generous donors, with the administrative support from Equal Aqua Uganda, and construction by The Ichupa Upcycle Project , our first ecobrick water tank is up and running with harvested rainwater!
Check out this video for the whole story:
Now, the kids at Wells of Hope School AND the residents of Rwakobo Village have access to safe water!
This was the kick-off project for our WASH Campaign. Our 2021 goals are ambitious – but that’s good, right?
Ecobrick Water Tanks
Pit Latrines with Handwashing Stations
Deep Water Well
Ten Eighteen has 3 missions in Uganda: vulnerable girls and teen moms, water/sanitation/hygiene for Rwakobo, and food for three schools. In short, FOOD, WATER, SHELTER, AND EDUCATION.
It’s supporters like you, and our partners in Uganda, that allow us to accomplish this big mission, one small step at a time. We are so thankful!!
Today we welcome Gideon, Director of Hopeland and Wells of Hope Schools, and our liaison to Rwakobo Village. I’ve known Gideon for about ten years when he was a teacher/tutor at Father’s House in Kampala. We’ve been working together on the schools since May 2019, when my bakery began a Pound for Pound program to provide food for Hopeland School and the Arise Africa Babies Home. I’m so glad to have a chance to chat with him about Rwakobo Village!
J: When and how did the village at Rwakobo come to your attention?
G: We visited it in 2018 when our church [Celebration Tabernacle Church in Mbarara] was doing outreaches to the poorest and most needy areas in our region.
J. What was the first thing Celebration Tabernacle did in the village?
G: Together, the church fed the hungry, built a few mud houses with iron sheets for those who slept in grass huts or were basically homeless, and talked to the parents about the dangers of forced child marriages and other associated vices.
J: How many people live in Rwakobo Village?
G: Almost 3,000 now!
J: What is life like for those living there?
G: They live hand to mouth, well below the poverty line [so below $2 per day]. They hardly have any clean water, getting food is a struggle, and they have no health facilities so they depend on herbs for the treatment of illnesses.
J: What impact has the school made on the lives of the villagers?
G: They have seen the importance of education! Forced early marriages have been reduced, as well as the behaviors associated with that [like abuse, early pregnancy and related complications]. The value of girls has been resurrected!
J: How will the new school building and the reopening of the school after the Covid lockdown affect the children who attend Wells of Hope?
G: Their lives were being threatened over the last year! Not only were schools closed, but churches were also closed so they began to lose hope. They fell back in their educational achievements [school had only just started its third-ever term], and were giving up! The news of the opening will be amazing to them!
J: What impact did the Covid lockdowns and the loss of the full school year have on the children. What negative effects did you see during the last year, and what negative impacts do you anticipate because of the “lost year?”
G: Some children were starving and malnourished. Some were abandoned by their parents in their houses and left alone. Others were forced into early marriage, early pregnancy, and some girls were exchanged for food. The girls who were forced into marriage will not be able to return to school [Wells of Hope only goes to Primary 6]. We also anticipate that the little tuition some parents were able to pay will be reduced, as the parents have lost what incomes they had during the pandemic. Additionally, the families had to eat any seeds that they were saving for planting after the rainy season, so there is little income on the horizon.
J: What difference would having access to clean water, as well as good sanitation and hygiene, have on the school and village?
G: If the village didn’t have to rely on seasonal wells [ponds] and had clean water, the incidence of disease and illness would be greatly reduced! Waterborne illness is one of the biggest problems in the village and the school and accounts for many lost days of class. Diarrhea kills many children in the village. Handwashing stations and clean pit latrines would also help a lot!
J: What is the greatest need in Rwakobo Village?
G: A bigger school so all the children can attend, and funds to pay the staff. Clean water and water easily available for washing. And improved homes for the families who live in grass huts or mud homes.
J: Thank you so much for all your work in this village — and for introducing us to it last year! We can’t wait to get back there as soon as Covid allows!
The village at Rwakobo Rock, which we call Rwakobo Village but which doesn’t seem to have a formal name, is about 10km inside Lake Mburo National Park. It was founded as a place to relocate Rwandan refugees, and (apparently) forgotten. While there is another village inside that park that seems to have services, a decent (for a Ugandan village) road, and houses the employees of the various safari lodges, Rwakobo Village is spread out and isolated — by geography, and by culture.
Their isolation has led to an extremely high rate of HIV/AIDS and STDs. Syphilis, in particular, seems to be rampant and largely untreated. No hospice or other medical outreach serves the village. Water-borne diseases such as typhoid, as well as malaria and illnesses related to poor hygiene, are leading causes of sickness and death.
WHAT IS A WASH CAMPAIGN?
WASH = Water Access, Sanitation, and Hygiene
WATER IS THE FIRST URGENT NEED
But at the same time, Wells of Hope School and Celebration Tabernacle Church outreach are teaching best hygiene practices. Since almost half of people in Rwakobo Village practice open defecation (going to the bathroom outside), there is a great need for education and construction of safe pit latrines for the villagers as well. All of these things are interconnected and vital for health and safety of those living in this village.
THIS TYPE OF CAMPAIGN IS A MARATHON NOT A SPRINT!
We have been working in Uganda since 2009, and are committed to this project for the long haul. Just before the school closings and lockdown last year, Ten Eighteen Uganda built a kitchen and a small cistern — sufficient for daily use — at Wells of Hope School. Thanks to a generous donor, we now have the funds to install a 7,000 liter eco-brick tank at the new school building. Since Equal Aqua Uganda will be traveling several hundred kilometers from their usual area, we are hoping to raise money for at least one 10,000 liter tank for the village to be built at the same time.
But what are the long term goals in this WASH Campaign?
At least 12 ten-thousand gallon tanks spread throughout the village, to catch rainwater that can be used for washing, cooking, and drinking (with purification techniques such as boiling).
One deep-water well installed by the end of 2022, and four by the end of 2025.
Conduct a village-wide hygiene campaign in 2021 in collaboration with Celebration Tabernacle Church and Wells of Hope School, to teach the importance of using best hygiene practices such as frequent handwashing, especially after defecation.
Construct pit latrines in the community in collaboration with Celebration Tabernacle Church.
If you’d like to donate to our Clean Water for Rwakobo campaign,we’d love to have you partner with us to effect meaningful and lasting change in this devastatingly poor community. 100% of your donations go to the project! And we’d love your thoughts, comments, and prayers as we tackle this job — we can’t do it, but God can accomplish it!