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Celebrate World Water Day with a village in Uganda

Today is World Water Day and we are in Apur Ki Opko, a village named after its lack of water.

The village of Apur Ki Opoko is filled with the sounds of people playing instruments, singing and dancing, because today they have a real reason to celebrate! The Drop in the Bucket team are present for a ceremony with local village and district officials to officially hand over a newly-drilled well for fresh water. Amidst the excitement, a voice cuts through the sounds of laughter.

Village children stand by the new well at Apur Ki Opoko

“I was born here, I grew up here and I will die here,” boasts Ocen Marcelino proudly. He’s the village chairperson, and he points at a pumpkin-like gourd laying on the ground nearby. “This is the calabash gourd, and our village takes its name from these gourds.” He goes on to explain that in the past women from the village used these gourds to fetch water. They would walk to a distant swamp and use the calabash to dig down into the ground. Once they had dug deep enough, they would use the gourd to collect the water and carry it back to the village. He then explains that name Apur Ki Opoko literally means “I dig with Calabash.”Ocen looks at the smiling crowd and jokes “Maybe now that we have this well, we can change the name of the village”

Janet Ajok, a woman from the village, greets our drillers with a warm smile. “Thank you for the new well!” she beams. “The water we were getting was from a waterhole that was also used by animals. We had to use it for cooking and drinking. We are so happy to finally have this well and clean water!”

An elderly woman named Rose Ayoo leaves a group of people dancing to join us. “I am so happy that this happened during my lifetime. I have dreamed of this moment for so long,” she says, visibly overwhelmed. Around her neck she is wearing a calabash gourd, a reminder of the daily struggle for water she endured for so much of her life, and a symbol of the joy she feels because she will never have to make that walk carrying a calabash again. 

Today is World Water Day, and today we all get to celebrate with Rose, Janet and the people of Apur Ki Opoko. This is a day they will always remember, as the new well will change their lives forever.

From everyone at Drop in the Bucket, we wish you a Happy World Water Day, and thank you for making our work possible for all these years. 

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“The Problem of Water Made Me Drop Out of School”

Wii Aceng Primary School Now Has a working water well

The water situation in Te- Aceng village could best be described as challenging. Consensus among hydrologists said it was unlikely that anyone would be able to drill a well in the area. This was reinforced by the fact that over the years several organizations had attempted this but were unsuccessful. In fact, the nearest source of clean water was a borehole well 15 km (9.3 miles) away. 

This lack of water affected the entire community as most people were drinking from streams and water holes. The majority of these water sources were seasonal, meaning they would be completely dry during the hotter months. When this happened people were forced to walk the long distance to the well. The situation at the school put a lot of pressure on the children. Teachers would ask the older girls to fetch water from the well. They would go knowing they would be missing out on important lessons while they walked the long distance to the well and back. 

How the lack of water, forced children drop out of school and broke up friendships.

Nancy, Aciro Vicky and Apio Jovan Franca were best friends. While they were not related, the three girls considered themselves sisters. Because Apio was the oldest of the three, when the teachers needed someone to fetch them water, she was the one they asked. The trip was long and exhausting, particularly due to the weight of water she would have to carry back. At first Apio didn’t mind being asked, but she started to feel like she was being asked too often. Inevitably she started getting discouraged about school and finally stopped going. 

Aciro and Nancy still attend the school, but they miss their friend and wish she was still there with them. They explain that if a teacher asks you to fetch water, you don’t really have the option of saying no. They add that the water situation at the school had caused many students to drop out. Apio soon met a boy and they had a child together. At this point the chances of her finishing her education are slim.

A related problem

Okello Hellen, a parent of two pupils at the school says they had resorted to rationing clean water.  She tried sending their children to school with their water in used plastic bottles, but with limited success. “The problem is that our children would always come back home crying, complaining that other older boys would forcefully take their water and they do not want to go back to school because of that,” confides Hellen. She was afraid that her two boys would drop out of school like so many of other village children.

Drop in the Bucket drilled a well for the Wii Aceng Primary School

In July 2021, Drop in the Bucket sent a hydrologist to Te-Aceng village to assess the water situation. We wanted to see if there was any chance to drill a well on or near the school property. After several tests, the hydrologist found a site he felt had potential. Soon after we dispatched a team of drillers to the location. It was not an easy drill, but Drop in the Bucket’s team did manage to strike water. We are happy to announce that Wii-Aceng primary school now has a working well. The well is used by the school and the local community who are so thankful to no longer have to walk long distances for water.

Mr. Nyeko Richard thanked Drop in the Bucket for drilling the well, calling it a miracle.  He is convinced that the school will experience fewer cases of children dropping out and he is hopeful the school will now be able to retain more female teachers. The lack of clean water did not just affect the students, the teachers were also struggling with the lack of clean water. 

Okello Hellen is sure the bullying will stop now that every child has access to all the clean water they need. Apio wishes she had stayed at school and regrets dropping out. She asked us to pass on this message to other students in her situation “Stay in school, no matter what and do not follow in my footsteps. The current pupils are lucky to have what I did not – clean water” 

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Mother AK Memorial Nursery and Primary School

Where children can now drink water without fear of being bitten by snakes

The Mother AK Memorial Nursery and Primary school is located next to the Otumpili Day and Boarding School. They are the only schools within a 20 km radius. Mother AK Memorial is both a kindergarten and a primary school more through necessity than actual choice. There was simply no option for the community to establish two schools, so they built one that caters to students of all ages. 

The water and snake problem

Before the well, the school and local community were dependent on a water hole that was over 1 km away. It was a long distance to walk, but it was their only option. Sarah Asunta, the school bursar mentioned that they would try to only send the older girls to go and fetch water, but sometimes the younger children would have to go.  “During some unfortunate times, the pupils come back running and panting and without their water jerricans after finding a snake at the well,” confides Asunta. 

A young female student named Lamunu Daisy, confirmed this saying “No. It was not just a snake. It was a python.” She said they were three girls and they all sprinted back to the school in fear. 

The water situation before the well

The old water source was more than a kilometer from the school. It was in an isolated area, in what is known as ‘the bush’ and the path leading to it was unkempt and overgrown. This meant that the walk to and from the water hole took even longer than it normally would.

The water hole was not protected with any kind of fence, which meant it was also used by livestock.  During rainy seasons the paths would flood and it became impossible to access the water hole. When this happened the pupils would collect water from any puddles they found that were deep enough, but this water was not clean or safe to drink. 

The negative impact: trauma.

Asunta says the encounters with snakes tend to have a traumatizing effect on the pupils and this is known to affect their performance in class. 

Another issue the school used to face was that parents were reluctant to send their children to a school where there was no water. They did not like the idea of a school where their children were unable to wash their plates after school meals, with no water for drinking, no water for washing the toilets and no water to help was their hands – a situation made worse by the current pandemic.

and

The new well

While schools are still closed in Uganda, we are now hearing that they are about to re-open after a long 83-week closure. The new well drilled by Drop in the Bucket at the school is creating a buzz among the parents who are excitedly asking when the schools will reopen. Several parents whose children were not in school before are now expressing a greater interest in enrolling their children because of the new well. Asunta has a different reason to be happy. She is happy that the pupils will no longer have to deal with snakes when they are thirsty.

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Pakeyo Health Center II: Where Young Patients Had To Cross Busy Roads for Water

Mercy Aloyo is a fifth grade (primary five) student from Tobi, Uganda, who has just come down with Malaria. Malaria is a parasitic disease carried by mosquitoes that causes flu-like symptoms and can result in serious problems or even death without treatment. Mercy walks about 2 miles (3km) to Pakeyo Health Center II in order to get the medicine she needs. The center does not have an indoor waiting room, so she waits with the other patients in the hot midday sun to see one of Payeko’s health professionals.

Pakeyo Health Center II now has clean water
The new well at the Pakeyo Health Center II in Pader District, Uganda.

Pakeyo Health Center II is a very busy facility which sees over fifty patients a day and currently does not have a source of running water. The healthcare workers are often too busy tending to patients to fetch water throughout the day. When this happens, patients like Mercy are given the task of getting water for everyone to drink while they wait to receive care. Last week while Mercy was waiting to receive her treatment she was sent to fetch water from the closest source, a community well that sits on the other side of Pakeyo’s main road.

As everyone who is sent to fetch water does, Mercy took the ten liter jug and waited for a break in traffic before crossing the road. She then waited in line with the other community members, filled up the jug when it was her turn, and crossed back to the center, this time hauling 22lb (1 kg) of water. This dangerous activity is what allows Mercy and the other patients to stay hydrated while they wait to be seen, and so Mercy is happy to do it despite her fear of crossing such a busy road. Even though she is a young girl, she has been the best choice to fetch water because the other patients are often too sick to help.

Getting the water to Pakeyo Health Center II is not the only challenge posed by the lack of a well at the facility. If there were running water at Pakeyo, patients would bring their own water jugs to fill and drink directly from them. Since they are all sharing one jug, they also must share the only available cup. This poses serious health risks, especially with the current coronavirus pandemic. Having a well at the center would mean that not only would the patients have adequate water to drink, but they would also be better able to keep themselves and their families safe from coronavirus.

Thanks to a generous Drop in the Bucket donor, the Pakeyo Health Center now has it’s own source of clean water due to the newly drilled well.

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How the well at Kati Kati West Changed One Woman’s Life

Akot Rose Ajok stands by the new well drilled by Drop in the Bucket

Before the well was drilled at Kati Kati West

Kati-Kati West is a rural community in northern Uganda. It is also the home of Akot Rose Ajok, a single mother of five who often struggles to make ends meet. Before Covid, she was a matron looking after the female students in a local primary school, but when the pandemic forced all of the schools to temporarily close she lost her only source of income. With the loss of her job, she decided to try starting a business baking and selling pastries. Her most successful product was a small cookie called simsim that is made with sesame seeds and rolled into small balls, and are very popular in Uganda.

These are Sim Sim – Sesame seed cookies popular in Uganda

But Akon Rose was worried about how she would be able to get started in her new business. She knew she needed an average of seven jerricans of water a day for her cookies because, as she explains, “a lot of water is needed, especially to wash the sesame seeds.” For that reason, the new well drilled by Drop In The Bucket in Kati-Kati West could not have come at a better time.   

The Difference Made by Clean Water

She had been worried about the holidays, but the money she made from selling the simsim made it possible for her to buy new clothes for her children and made it possible for the family to have their best Christmas ever. As she starts the new year, she is excited that she has already put aside enough money to pay her children’s school fees. With the news reporting that schools in Uganda are finally reopening soon, the future looks bright for Akot Rose and her children.

Child at Kati Kati West in Uganda getting clean water from the new well drilled by Drop in the Bucket

Now that Kati Kati West Has a Well

“The borehole is very close to my home, and I am happy to have clean water for drinking and cooking,” she says, adding with a smile, “I am confident that I will never again use unclean water, especially for making my cookies.” She has already told the school that she will not be going back to her old job as she intends to continue making pastries. 

Kati Kati West now has clean water thanks to the new well drilled by Drop in the Bucket

This is just one of many stories from Kati Kati West about people whose lives have been transformed by the new well. Follow Drop in the Bucket on Facebook and Instagram for more updates on our work.

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The Alero Health Center III Needs Clean Water

Where a Newborn was Instantly Affected by a Water Problem

Awor Stella, resident midwife at the Alero Health Center III sits behind her desk.

After a long and tiring day at the Alero Health Center III, Awor Stella, the facility’s resident midwife, was resting in the nearby sleeping quarters. It was 2am, and outside she could hear voices that sounded like they were coming closer. When she heard her name being called, she instinctively jumped up, realizing what was needed.

She thought back to how several hours earlier she had washed down the delivery bed and cleaned all of the equipment, using the last of the facilities available water. She knew tomorrow would be another busy day and had planned on being ready in advance. What she had not anticipated was an emergency late-night delivery. 

January in Uganda falls in the middle of a dry season, and this year was particularly dry. The Alero Health Center III did not have its own source of clean water. It did have a rain water harvesting tank, but the extreme weather resulted in an empty tank, leaving health center staff to collect water from local sources every morning. The local sources were predominantly hand-dug wells, locally referred to as unprotected springs. While these wells produced water, it was groundwater that was neither clean nor safe – but it was often the only water available.

“I was lucky that I had cleaned the equipment and delivery bed, but not so lucky in that more clean water would still be needed after the delivery,” explained Awor. She had to act fast, so she collected all of the water she had in her home and brought it to the delivery room. It was late and dark outside, which made the idea of walking to the nearest well out of the question. It would be too dangerous for her at this time of night.

Awor shook her head and explained how common this situation was for midwives in East Africa, where so many health centers lack access to clean water.  “Health facility workers often go to the local residents to ask them if they have water they can spare when there is an emergency,” she explained. It is not a safe or sustainable situation, and it often results in needless deaths.  

With fatigue showing on her face, Awor has asked if Drop In The Bucket would drill a well for her health center. She knows we helped other facilities in the region, and with clean water the health center would be able to help children like Lagum Prossy, the community’s newest member. Although Lagum’s first moments were challenging that early January morning, we are happy to say she made it – thanks to Awor Stella and the staff at the Alero Health Center III. 

Now we just need to get them clean water.

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Ogwari Primary School

The Ogwari Primary School – Where People and Livestock Were Drinking the Same Water

The Ogwari Primary School is clearly visible from the road. A person driving by might have thought this school and the whole community were thriving. But what you wouldn’t see from the road was a water situation that was both alarming and sometimes deadly. Now thanks to new well drilled by Drop in the Bucket, things are looking up for the local residents. 

Before the well

Mr. Oree Okello Jackson, the elderly headteacher of the Ogwari Primary School reveals that the community shared the same shallow well with animals such as cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.

According to Mr. Oree, “Once pigs enter your water source, and dip their mouths in it, you should consider it unsafe.” The pigs and other livestock are free to roam around the area. While they’re drinking, they stand in the water and often urinate and defecate. This same waterhole has been sustaining the entire community for drinking, cooking and domestic use.

Mr. Oree Okello Jackson headteacher of the Ogwari Primary School

The real negative effect

Sometimes, when there were no adults around, local children would also bathe in the water hole. Although, the community knew the water was unclean and not safe to drink, there was no other option. Oree said the contamination was visible as you could see small organisms swimming in the buckets of water people collected for their homes.

Ejang Sharon, a housewife and mother of three, painfully recounted the time her three-year-old daughter Adong Bridget fell critically ill and was rushed to the hospital after a series of stomach pains and vomiting. 

Ejang Sharon and her daughter

The test results revealed that Adong had contracted bilharzia, a chronic disease caused by water-borne parasitic worms. Known to damage the internal organs and potentially lead to death, Ejang was terrified that she was going to lose her daughter to the illness. Luckily, Adong was treated just in time.

The doctor advised Ejang to always boil water before giving it to her family to drink. While she tried her best to comply, she said a lack of time and scarcity of firewood made it difficult to boil all the water her family needed each day.

The Solution

After inspecting and assessing the dire water situation in Ogwari, Drop in the Bucket drilled a well in the heart of the community. The faces of the community residents lit up with joy as they collected clean water from their brand new well.

“I can rest easy now that I know what happened to my child will not happen again,” beamed Ejang. “Bilharzia has become a thing of the past here.” 

Akite Nancy, a 15-year-old Ogwari primary school student, said she will now have all the clean water she needs and will no longer have to put her life in danger by simply quenching her thirst. 

Mr. Oree was overjoyed that Drop in the Bucket identified his community’s main problem and solved it. Looking to the future, he assured his fellow residents that he would work with Drop in the Bucket to maintain the well and make sure it remains a fixture in the community.

“This is a great blessing,” he said. “Life is surely going to change in this area.”

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Wii Anaka Health Center II Gets A New Well

Clean Water was a Constant Concern for the Patients and Staff of the Wii Anaka Health Center in Nwoya, Uganda


Ojok Patrick works at the Wii Anaka Health Center, and every morning he rides his bicycle several miles to fetch water from distant Wang Angila. While the water there is piped in, clean and safe for use in a health center, it is also the only safe water in the area, so there are always long lines. The distance and wait make it impossible for Ojok to make more than one trip  each day, and he can only load four containers of water on his bicycle. His water has to be rationed by the entire staff at the health center. The water he brings is used by the patients for drinking and taking their medicine, the medical staff for treating patients, and the maintenance staff for cleaning. 

Wilobo Willy George is the laboratory technician at the health center, and he uses the water Ojok brings every day. He says his department is the most affected by the water rationing because they need it for hand washing, cleaning equipment, diluting reagents, and in staining, which he explains as the process of dipping the blood sample for test in a reagent then in water repeatedly. “I have to perform so many tasks that require water, but rarely do I have enough water to complete them,” he says. In many cases, he even has to leave the center to fetch water by bicycle as his patients wait.

“They say ‘why go to a health center when the conditions are the same at home?’”

Sharon Faith – Midwife at the Wii Anaka Health Center III in Uganda.

Aber Sharon Faith, the midwife at the health center, says they never have enough water in the maternity ward. While most people realize that water is needed for delivering babies, they also need water for cooking, and the maternity room has to be thoroughly cleaned before each baby gets delivered. This lack of water at the facility discourages expectant mothers from going to the hospital to give birth, commenting that they may as well have their baby at home rather that going to a facility that lacks clean water. Aber shakes her head resignedly, “they say, ‘why go to a health center when the conditions are the same at home?’”

Even the clean, piped water runs out during the dry season, leaving the health center with no choice but to use any unsafe water they can find. The health center installed a medium-sized rain water harvesting tank that has proven useful during rain season, but it’s not uncommon to find dead lizards in the tank, contaminating the water and making it unsafe. 

Drop In The Bucket drills a well for the Wii Anaka Health Center II

Thanks to a generous donation from the Feya Foundation and Causebox, Drop In The Bucket were able to drill a well for the Wii Anaka Health Center. After the well was completed, the staff and locals celebrated – the community even donated a goat and held a celebratory feast.

“I, in particular, celebrated the fact that I will finally have enough water for all my laboratory needs,” said a thrilled Wilobo. 

“Before the well, we would often be short on water when women went into labor during the night – now we have water right in our yard,” said the excited midwife Aber.“We shall now have enough water for swallowing our tablets, and we might not even need to carry water from home like before,” states Adok Joan, a patient who came for treatment. 

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International Day of the Girl Child 2021

International Day of the Girl Child 2021

International Day of the Girl Child is celebrated each year on October 11th. The aim is to shine a light the many challenges young girls face around the world and promote equality and human rights for all.

Drop in the Bucket participate in International Day of the Girl Child 2021

In societies where gender-based violence, child marriage, inequalities in education and health care are common, this event promotes awareness and sends messages to girls, families and local leaders that all girls have a right to live free from harm.

DROP’s education team and students participate every year in the event in South Sudan. And each year has a special theme. This year the message was: Digital Generation, Our Generation. 

Students gather around a “Digital Generation, Our Generation” banner at International Day of the Girl Child 2021 in Nimule, South Sudan.

Along with a parade and celebration, there are a number of activities planned to promote social change and encourage girls to learn skills to help them become future leaders.  

One of the activities this year was to allow students to spend the day working in a local leadership position. So, for one day, the town clerk, county commissioner, hospital administrator, and radio station manager opened their doors to these youth. The students chaired meetings and were put into decision-making positions. This provided them with new insight into the adult world and also encouraged those leaders to hear their views and specific calls for action.

Then the celebration culminated in an event that included songs, dance and speeches.

Some of the songs were about issues of child marriage. And one mother gave a heartfelt speech with this plea to the students, “In all of Africa we in South Sudan are the lowest – and education is the only way to bring us up.”

DROP has participated in this event for over a decade in South Sudan. In other years, the event was larger and included many other development partners. But things are changing. These days there is less focus on development projects, especially those centered around education. The world seems to be in a state of emergency and funding has followed. But we refuse to give up on these students. The world depends on them. And we will be there for them. 

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October Updates

October Updates from Drop in the Bucket

As we are entering into the final quarter of the year, there is a lot happening at DROP. Our drilling team has just wrapped up a large water and sanitation project at our girl’s dorm in Nimule, South Sudan.

We installed a motorized solar water system that provides water to not only the dorm, but also taps for the surrounding community and a church-run school next door for about 60 disabled children. They had all previously been using a hand pumped well. But now they have We installed a motorized solar water system that pipes water to not only the dorm, but also provides taps for the surrounding community and a church-run school next door for about 60 disabled children. They had all previously been using a hand pumped well. But now they have taps to deliver their water directly to them.  We also constructed an improved sanitation system and showers for the girls staying in the dorm. 

The drilling team is currently on their way back to the field to close out the year drilling 15 wells for schools and communities in three districts in northern Uganda. 

The dorm has become an important location lately for engaging our students during the second year of covid. Since vaccines are not readily available here, Uganda has kept the schools closed since May. However, South Sudan schools have remained open. And since DROP supports girls with scholarships in both countries, we have used the dorm as a temporary school for our students who were enrolled in Uganda. 

We have brought over teachers from Uganda to focus specifically on math, English and physics. We have also introduced sports, games, gardening and a library with, not only textbooks, but also leisure reading materials.  Also, on a recent trip to the capital to inquire about additional funding opportunities for the education program, we learned that DROP is the only NGO in South Sudan currently supporting O level secondary students with scholarships as part of an ongoing development project. Most all funding these days is aimed at emergency relief or primary schools. 

Last Monday, October 11th, was International Day of the Girl Child. In prior years this has been a big event with various local, national and international organizations participating. This year DROP was one of only two international organizations represented at the event.