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Angole Health Center II; A struggling health center finds relief with a new well

From Unsafe Water to a Better Solution

Angole Health Center in Pader Uganda where Drop in the Bucket drilled a well in 2020Located in the Pader district of northern Uganda, the Angole Health Center II used to struggle to provide basic care to its patients. The reason was a lack of clean water. Located near a trading center, the health center serves both as a place of work and a home for the medical professionals who work there. However, its lack of a clean water source made it difficult for staff to effectively care for patients.  

Awor Margaret a midwife at the Angole Health Center II in Pader, Uganda
Meet Awor Margaret

Before the well

Awor Margaret, a midwife at the health center, explained that the staff used to fetch water from a borehole at a nearby primary school, which was also used by the local community. This meant that medical staff had to leave patients waiting while they went to collect water. The water generally lasted until the afternoon, allowing staff to see around 50 patients per day. But if they were too tired to fetch more water, they had to turn patients away and ask them to come back the next day.

In times of crisis, such as when the borehole broke down, the nearest water source was an open stream two kilometers away. Oyella Ketty, a nurse at the health center, remembers the risks and ramifications of healthcare workers leaving patients waiting while they walked for water.

The water from the stream was not safe to drink, as Awor Margaret recalls seeing organisms swimming in it. But with no other options, the medical staff had to give it to patients for drinking and swallowing tablets.

The new well

Thanks to a new well, however, the Angole Health Center II now has access to all the clean water it needs for drinking, hand washing, treating sick children, and cleaning the facility. In fact, the Ministry of Health now requires that all healthcare facilities in Uganda be cleaned twice per day in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Without the new well, meeting this requirement would have been impossible.
Community members from the Angole parish get water from the well at the Angole health center in Pader, Uganda.

Oyella Ketty looks at the people getting water from the new well and her face lights up. She explains that the borehole provides all the water the community needs and that the staff is now able to care for all of their patients without fear of running out of water.

The new well has been a game-changer for the Angole Health Center II and the local community. No longer do the medical staff have to worry about leaving patients waiting while they fetch water, or about giving their patients unsafe water to drink. Now, they are able to focus on providing the best possible care to their patients and serving the community to the best of their ability.

But the struggles of the Angole Health Center II are not unique. Across Uganda, many communities face challenges when it comes to access to clean water. This is a problem that disproportionately affects women and children, who are often responsible for collecting water for their families.

The efforts of organizations like Drop in the Bucket are critical in addressing this issue and improving the lives of communities in Uganda and beyond. By working to provide access to clean water, these organizations are helping to improve health, education, and economic opportunities for people in need.

The story of the Angole Health Center II is a testament to the transformative power of clean water and the positive impact it can have on communities. It is a reminder of the importance of supporting efforts to bring clean water to those who need it most.



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Happy New Year and a New Well Video

Have you ever wondered what it’s like when a well gets completed in a village in Africa? We may have drilled more than 500 wells, but this experience never gets old.

From the relieved grins on our drillers faces, the happy smiles of the adults in the community, to the peals of joyous laughter from the children who know they no longer have to walk hours every day for water. In rural communities water charges everything and for this community in Uganda nothing will ever be the same.

We couldn’t do any of this without your donations, so we wanted to share this moment with you and thank you for making our work possible. We hope you enjoy this video as much as we enjoyed filming and putting it together.

Special thanks to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, for not only providing the perfect soundtrack to this video, but also for making it possible.

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Our first inter-school quiz competition

Drop in the Bucket just hosted its first ever Inter-School Quiz Competition in South Sudan. The event included 8th grade participants from five primary schools in Nimule South Sudan. The schools submitted four of their top students to compete – two boys and two girls from each.

For the three weeks leading up to the competition, the DROP team had been immersed in preparations, which also included creating the game, using questions from the South Sudan primary school syllabus.

Students participating in the first annual Drop in the Bucket South Sudan inter-school quiz competition
Students participating in the first annual Drop in the Bucket South Sudan inter-school quiz competition

Rotating between individual and group questions, the students had 30 seconds to answer questions in math, English, science and social studies. Two points were given for each correct answer. A moderator from the local radio station led the game. And the competition was fierce!

There was also a raffle, where students from the audience were given the chance to answer a question to win a t-shirt.

A student holds up her raffle ticket in the Drop in the Bucket South Sudan inter-school quiz competition
A student holds up her raffle ticket

Although, the DROP education program’s mission is to provide vulnerable girls with the opportunity to attend secondary school, the overall aim is to promote education within the entire society. And the goal of this exciting quiz-game format was to merge the concept of competition, fun, and learning into one action-packed afternoon.

Drop in the Bucket's Director Stacey Travis presents the winning team from Green Valley Primary School in Eastern Equatoria their trophy.
Drop in the Bucket’s Director Stacey Travis presents the winning team from Green Valley Primary School in Eastern Equatoria their trophy.

In the end, the students from Green Valley Primary School took home the cup, along with other prizes. They will return next year to defend their award against the other schools. And if they win two more times, the trophy is forever theirs!

The winning students from Green Valley Primary School winning the cup in the first annual Drop in the Bucket inter-school quiz competition.
The winning students from Green Valley Primary School hold up their trophy.
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Naibiri Health Center II and how one nurse’s persistence paid off!

Meet Kamoyi Wilson a nurse at the Naibiri Health Center II in Uganda

Kamoyi Wilson Nurse at the Naibiri Health Center II
Kamoyi Wilson stands in front of the Naibiri Health Center II in Uganda

Even as a child Kamoyi Wilson knew what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to help people!

His dream was to one day become a doctor, so in school he focused on science classes. “Helping the sick has always been my passion” he explains.

Unfortunately for Wilson, the fees to go to a medical school were too much for his family to afford, so instead he decided to become a nurse.

Starting work at the Naibiri Health Center II

After his graduation he started working at the Naibiri Health Center II and immediately fell in love with the work. The hours were long and exhausting, but every day he got to help people and would go to sleep each night tired but happy.

After a few months he started thinking ways he could make things better for the patients. There were two issues that continued to kept him up at night. The first was that the medical center did not always have enough medicine and when it did, it wasn’t always the best. He began to lobby for better access to medications and eventually his efforts paid off. Now the health clinic has all of the medicine it needs! With that issue solved, he turned his thoughts to the second issue – access to clean water.

The Water Situation at Naibiri

While the facility was not entirely without water, the situation was far from ideal. They had a system that collected rainwater from their roof into a large tank. However this rainwater system had no filter and the rusty roof and dusty pipes affected both the taste and the purity.

During the rainy season and for the next few months the facility had water, but during the dry season, the situation was more desperate. With the tank dry, the only option was to walk for water. The nearest well was a long walk from the center, and coupled with the sheer volume of patients being treated each day, it began taking a toll on the staff.

The health center’s cleaner volunteered to take on the task of fetching water, but she soon realized that she was spending more time walking to and from the well than doing her job. As a result, the facility was not as clean or hygienic as it needed to be.  She would also end each day exhausted. Other staff members and even patients and visitors tried to help by taking turns walking to the well, but there was never enough water.

The local authorities were sympathetic, but unable to help. Their priority had to be supplying the medicine and while they saw the importance of clean water, they just didn’t have the funds.

How it Looks Today

Drop in the Bucket were  in town meeting with the local district water office and were told about the water situation at the health center. We were looking for a health center in the area and after the meeting went straight to Naibiri. As soon as we saw the situation, we knew we were in the right place. This was somewhere that could really use our help.

We commissioned a hydro-geological survey and found a location that was likely to support a well. The drilling itself was fairly straightforward and within a day we drilled down 50 meters to hit water. The test results were great! This water was clean and free of impurities or contaminants.

The Naibiri health center now has clean water and everything has changed! Wilson couldn’t be happier and the staff are beyond grateful for his persistent lobbying.

Naibiri Health Center IINaibiri Health Center II

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Personal Stories

Laminogwiri Community School – Where the Drop in the Bucket Drilling Team Made New Friends for Life

Laminogwiri – Where Drop in the Bucket drillers made a new friend for life

When your work involves traveling to remote villages and providing them with clean water, it is easy to make new friends. But sometimes the people you meet become lifelong friends. That was the case with Opiyo Richard from Laminogwiri village in Uganda.

The process of drilling a borehole well starts with a visual inspection. Our advance team scouts the location looking for potential sites to drill.

It was on our first visit to Laminogwiri that we met Opiyo Richard. The drillers were greeted by his warm, inviting smile, little did they know it would be the start of a long friendship.

Opiyo works in the village as a motorcycle mechanic. He heard one of our field trucks approaching and looked up from his work. “When I saw that it was the team that would drill for us the borehole (Drop in the Bucket), I immediately came and joined them, showing them around and levelling the grass,” recalls Opiyo.

A potential site for the well was soon found and Opiyo could barely contain his delight. “I was so excited to see the drilling rig arrive. I came to help them settle in and ended up staying until the borehole was completed,” says Opiyo. “I was here for the handing over ceremony and I will always be near this borehole” adds Opiyo proudly.

Opiyo was there helping the drillers every day, happy to give his time and energy. He had paying work coming in, but felt that he needed to be there helping. The drillers loved his enthusiasm and were happy to have him around helping. Asked why he put aside his other commitments, Opiyo replied, “You don’t know how badly we needed clean water in this village”

Opio shows us the old water source.

Opio took us to see the old water source. We started walking and eventually we reached a muddy open water hole. “We used to drink from this dirty pond. We shared it with pigs and cows. As for the distance? Well, now you know how far we just walked”.

The old water source at Laminogwiri in UgandaThe pond water was muddy and stagnant. Definitely not water most people would even consider drinking, but for people of Laminogwiri, it was the only option.

The community members would stand in the water and scoop water into their buckets and containers.
Komakech Daniel, a local schoolboy remembers, “Our school uniforms are white, so when we washed them with water from the pond they got dirtier”.

“During rainy season, the water on the ground runs into the pond, making it even muddier. With no other options, we still came here to fetch water. The next pond is just past that hill over there,” says Oyella Nancy pointing towards the horizon.

With her baby tied on her back, Oyella Nancy and other community members gather to thank Drop in the Bucket at the commissioning of their borehole.

“We used his dirty water to bathe our babies and wash their clothes. We knew it was unhealthy, but what could we do?” adds Oyella with her baby on her back. Her face informs us that even as she was doing it, she was painfully aware of the risks of drinking dirty water shared with pigs and cows.

The New Well at Laminogwiri

The new well drilled by Drop in the Bucket at the Laminogweri school in Uganda
A male students gets clean water from the new well at Laminogweri School.

Aol Mary looks at the new borehole and smiles “You just heard that school boy talking about washing his clothes with dirty water and you heard my neighbors talking about their children getting sick from drinking dirty water, well all of those problems have now been solved”.

Opiyo is sad to see his new friends leave, but he assures us that we are always welcome in the village and will always know where to find him. “I will be right here by the borehole, taking good care of it and making sure there are never any problems. But don’t let that stop you from coming to visit us” he adds with a laugh.

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Layik West – a man wanted to get his village water so he ran for office

Layik West – the place where people fight.

Layik West in Uganda has many needs! The village lacks basic amenities like a school, a health center, drivable roads or any kind of police presence. But above all, the community’s biggest issue was their lack of clean water. At the time the village was using a protected spring for water. This is where someone builds a small cement structure around a naturally occurring stream or hand dug waterhole. They insert a metal pipe through the cement and use it to collect water. The cement provides some protection but the water is still groundwater and not safe to drink.

Over time the pipes rusted and the water came out slowly. This made collecting water a slow and frustrating experience. The spring became known locally as ‘Wang ali’ which translates as “The place where people quarrel, or fight”.

Hon Ocaya Denis a local leader from Layik West village in Uganda
Hon Ocaya Denis from Layik West village talks to Drop in the Bucket

One man concerned about the water situation was Hon. Ocaya Denis. He decided to run for local office so that he could help the people of Layik West. “We can wait on the roads, but we cannot wait for clean water!” He says emphatically.

“You never get used to seeing a woman collecting water with pigs standing next to her”

 “The spring was also being used by animals. You never get used to seeing a woman collecting water for drinking and cooking while pigs are standing in the same water.” Mr Ocaya said shaking his head. Ocaya decided to become a village leader. He reached out to the local District Water Office who put him in touch with Drop in the Bucket.

Atoo Jamila using a well drilled by Drop in the Bucket in Layik West Uganda
Atoo Jamila uses a well drilled by Drop in the Bucket

“We were also watching people crowding the water pipe and quarreling with each other, as they collected water.” agrees Atoo Jamila, a mother of five.

The root cause of the conflict

Another local leader, Kilama Geofrey agrees. “The majority of issues reported to me were trivial quarrels that happened while collecting water”. This led to tension between community members. “We are happy that Drop in the Bucket has finally solved this problem for us”.

Avoid dirty water sources and only drink water from the new well

Along with drilling the new well, DROP’s staff also helped the community form a water committee they trained in hygiene and sanitation. One woman who received training was Lamaro Miriam who volunteered to be a health leader. Now members of the community come to her when they are feeling unwell. “Mothers bring their children to me with signs of typhoid and bilharzia. Unfortunately, I am not qualified to treat those ailments, but I am able to tell them how to avoid getting sick again” she smiles. The most common advice she gives to tell them to avoid dirty water sources and only drink water from the new well.

Lamaro Miriam from the Layik West water committee set up by Drop in the Bucket
Lamaro Miriam from the Layik West water committee

“We are very grateful. Many organizations work here in Uganda, but only Drop in the Bucket came and drilled us a borehole” appreciates Lamaro.

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Clean water: Making life better for a grandmother in Oturuloya-Lagwe Dola

Meet Acan Margaret

In Uganda, it is not uncommon to find children being raised by their grandmothers. This usually happens when the parents are no longer together or when one or both of the parents has died. Anena Kevin is one such child that we met in the Oturuloya-Lagwe Dola village in Uganda.

Anena and her brother Ezra are being raised by their grandmother Acan Margaret. We met Acan as she was collecting water at the well that Drop in the Bucket had recently completed in Oturuloya-Lagwe Dola village in Uganda. “I have my two lovely children that I take care of. After my daughter (their mother) and her husband separated, she had to take a job in town to make ends meet.”

The girls’ mother sends money when she can but it is never enough. The elderly woman does her best to take care of the children by growing vegetables in her garden.  The garden helps, but the main thing the family needed was safe drinking water. Not just for the children but Acan was also struggling without clean water.

Before the well

“We got all of our water from an open well that was 2km away. We used this water for cooking, cleaning and even for drinking,” reveals Acan. The open well she is referring to is an open body of stagnant water that is also used by goats and cows. Even a brief look at the open well reveals green algae, tadpoles, worms frog eggs and other pondlife. Nothing that you would want to see when you are looking for water to drink.

“Each time I saw my children drinking that water, it always felt like I had given them poison to drink.”

Acan felt pangs of guilt whenever she gave that water to the girls. “Each time I saw my children drinking that water, it always felt like I had given them poison to drink.” Acan shudders as she relives the memory. “I couldn’t stop them from drinking it because I knew they were thirsty.”

The guilt was amplified when her children got typhoid or other waterborne diseases. Acan sighs resignedly and says “I am already old and don’t have much to lose, but my children have their whole lives ahead of them”.

On days when she had the energy, she would make the walk to the nearest trading center. The walk was two kilometers away, but due to her age it took her a long time to get there and back. “I used to walk to the trading center when the girls were at school. The walk there with two empty jerricans was okay, but the walk back took longer. It was tough, but it was worth it to see the girls drinking clean water.” says Acan.

Because of the distance, Acan started taking smaller jerricans.  This made her return trip carrying the water more manageable. But then they only had enough water for drinking. For everything else they still had to rely on the dirty water.

Another challenge she faced

Besides the distance, there was another challenge with getting water from the dirty well. The well was at the bottom of a hill and you had to climb back up a muddy bank once you had your water. People would often fall on their way back.

“One time I got stuck about halfway down the slippery slope. It had just rained and the ground was slippery. I was carrying water at the time, but I could not go forwards or backwards without falling down.” recalls Acan. Lucky for her, she was rescued in time.

Luckily for her, her granddaughter Acan Evelyn was on her way back from the garden and heard her cries for help. Acan was so happy to see her and get rescued.

Acan Margret looks down at the floor and in a voice barely louder than a whisper says “ If it were not for you, I would have fallen to my death or broken a leg fetching water. She is happy that Drop in the Bucket came to Oturuloya-Lagwe Dola village and drilled a well.

“I am confident that my family will now be consuming clean water since this organization (Drop in the Bucket) has gifted us a new well-functioning borehole. Thank you very much,” appreciated Acan.

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Five Months, 25 Wells, 1 New Language and a Lifetime of New Friends

The DROP drilling team just returned from five months working in Iganga district in south eastern Uganda. And, as usual, they encountered their fair share of challenges. Complicated underground rock formations made drilling extremely frustrating. Deluges of rain had them ducking for shelter when they desperately wanted to see water flushing up from the ground, not down from the sky.  And a one-month delay at the Mombassa port had them drilling with a dull hammer that bounced off of the rocks, rather than cutting through them.

But the biggest hurdle for everybody was the time away from their families. Our drilling supervisor had a big wedding in the works, our cook received daily calls from her children and by month five, the whole team was extremely homesick.

The main office struggled to bring them comfort through special meals, extra bonuses, and gadgets to ease the work. And despite everything, they pushed through to deliver twenty-five successful wells, some for schools with over 1500 children.

According to the team, those victories within the communities made it all worthwhile. Because in the five months they spent in Iganga, they had made it their second home, learned the local language and tasted the traditional foods of that region. And they made friends. Because when you bring water to people in need, you make lifelong friends. And that joy of serving communities – whether near or far – can help overcome the biggest of challenges.

Help us help more people with clean water! Your donations make our work possible!

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Akecha B Village – Where Clean Water Helped a Woman Regain her Dignity

Balvina Akullu from the Akecha B village in UgandaMeet Balvina Akullu

Akecha B village was not an easy place to reach. The only road was more of a footpath than an actual road, so the village was fairly isolated. It was in this village that we met a grandmother named Balvina Akullu. Balvina is a proud woman who loves her children and her 10 grandchildren. Her face lights up with a radiant smile when she talks about them.  But Balvina’s life has been far from easy. She has lived in this village her whole life and was here the day the village was attacked by the LRA terror group. Balvina’s husband was killed and her arm was badly injured, she also sustained a head injury. She was in the hospital for two months but was unable to regain full use of her hand, making it difficult to lift heavy objects.

A full container of water weighs approximately 40 lbs, so fetching drinking water became a major problem for this kindly grandmother. “Every day I had to ask for help and soon I had asked everyone in the village. The always brought me water, but the only safe water source was far away, so sometimes my neighbors would bring me clean water but often they would just bring any water they could find.” Balvina often found herself being forced to drink and cook with dirty water that would make her sick.  “It was awful, I felt like I was a burden to everyone from the village. I knew I was asking a lot but I needed the water to survive.”

Drilling a well for Akecha B Village

When Drop in the Bucket came to Akecha B village to look into drilling a well, the buzz around the village was electric but nobody was more overjoyed than Balvina. “The clean water restored my dignity. My neighbors are happy to visit me now and when they come, they always bring me water. The well is close to my home, so now I never have to ask, they just bring it. I now I have all the water I need and it is always clean water.” Balvina wanted to be part of the water committee that manages the well, but unfortunately, she still suffers from memory loss from the attack.

“They remember what life is like without a well and they do not want to go back.”
Nyeko Soloman security guard for the Akecho village borehole

Nyeko Soloman is responsible for the security of the new well. He shakes he head when he thinks back to the old water source that the village used. “It was a long walk to get to the nearest well, so we dug a hole where we knew there was a natural spring. This water was used by the community, but also by livestock, so it was very contaminated. This new well has changed our whole village”. Nyeko takes his job seriously, he is proud of the fact that the well is always swept clean and that people line up their containers neatly and always keep them clean. He smiles when he points out how gentle everyone is when using the hand pump. “They remember what life is like without a well and they do not want to go back.”Akecha B borehole well in Uganda

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Skyrocketing Food and Fuel Prices Impact the Most Vulnerable.

Skyrocketing Food and Fuel Prices Impact the Most Vulnerable

Western news outlets are reporting daily on the direct impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There are global economic ramifications that are wreaking havoc on the vulnerable communities in Africa and are impacting our ability to do our work.

News outlets throughout sub-Saharan Africa are reporting from streets filled with protesters who are fed up with the rising costs of food and fuel, which have reached an all-time high.

And the impact is felt all the way down to the village level, where basic necessities are becoming unaffordable. Because in Africa, fuel prices directly impact the cost of everything else. And sky-high transport costs directly lead to food inflation. And at DROP we are feeling this as a direct hit. We have donors who funded wells six months ago at a cost of $6000. But now, due to this inflation, it is costing us $7500 to drill those wells.

According to World Economic Forum’s May 2022 report,

“Sub-Saharan African countries find themselves facing another severe and exogenous shock. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted a surge in food and fuel prices that threatens the region’s economic outlook”

Village Life in Uganda

The situation is particularly troubling for Ugandans who were dealt a traumatic economic hit when the country shut down for 10 months in 2020 due to Covid. And schools remained closed 80 weeks in total.

So now, just as the population is preparing bounce back, the country is being confronted with the exorbitant costs of everything. In recent months, the country has seen the price of commodities such as soap jump to more than double the regular price.

DROP is also feeling the impact in our work. Our Uganda drilling team is currently in Iganga district drilling 20 wells, mostly for schools and the amount we are spending on fuel is higher than it has ever been?

The daily challenges we normally encounter in our work, are compounded exponentially, as market prices fluctuate daily. Some key materials have increased as much as 50%. And cargo shipments can delay up to six-months due to supply-chain issues.

How this is affecting our work

To make up for this drastic increase in costs, our field teams are foregoing a community empowerment activity that we love to provide in the villages where we work. Whenever possible, we train local community members (half women) to become hand pump mechanics. They can then use these skills to repair their own wells and operate as a business repairing wells in other villages.

As summer 2022 draws to an end, we are appealing to our drop family to consider making a contribution, however small, to help us bridge the funding gaps we are encountering due to this economic crisis.

$1000 – will fund a Pump Mechanics training for eight people.

$500 – will cover the increase if fuel costs for the drilling of one well

$200 – will help feed the drillers for one month

$100 – will help bridge the increase in costs for installation materials for one well.

Please consider making a donation