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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.

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

How the Drop in the Bucket drillers made a new friend for life

When your work involves going to remote villages and providing them with clean water, it is easy to make new friends, and occasionally those friends become friends for life. That was the case with Opiyo Richard from Laminogwiri village in Uganda.

The process of drilling a borehole well starts with a visual inspection where our team scouts the area looking for potential sites to drill. It was on our first visit to Laminogwiri that we met Opiyo Richard. His huge smile was so welcoming but we didn’t know it would signal the start of a long friendship.

Opiyo works in the village as a motorcycle mechanic and stopped work as soon as he heard our field truck approach. “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 location for the well was soon identified 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 strongly that he needed to be there helping. The drillers loved his energy and enthusiasm and were happy to have him around working with them. 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.

Along with some other members of the community, Opio decided to take us to the old water source. We started out on what turned into a long walk. Eventually we reached a muddy open water hole. “This is the pond we used to use. 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. This was not water that most people would even consider drinking, but for people of Laminogwiri, it was their only option.

The community members would stand in the water and scoop water into their buckets and containers.
Komakech Daniel, a local schoolboy, lets out a deep sigh “Our school uniforms are white, so each time we washed them with water from the pond they got more and more stained”.

“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 and how one young man ran for office to get his village water

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. The village got their water what is known as a protected spring. This is where there 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 while pigs are standing in the same water.”

 “The spring we were using was used by both animals and humans. You never get used to seeing a woman collecting water for drinking and cooking while pigs are standing in and drinking the same water.” Mr Ocaya said shaking his head. His hard work paid off when he was not only elected, but he also reached out to the local District Water Office who contacted 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. One such family is Anena Kevin’s.

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. Th 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 the 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

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Ngom Rom: And the Dream of Clean water for All!

Ngom Rom – “Places are the same”

Ngom Rom is a small village located about 25 kms outside Gulu city. The name Ngom Rom, when translated into English, means “Places are the same”. But one thing that separated Ngom Rom from other places was that it had no clean water.

When Drop in the Bucket was first approached about drilling a well for Ngom Rom, we knew this would not be an easy project. We would be drilling in an area best described as “water stressed”. Other organizations had already tried to drill in the area and were unsuccessful. Otim Geofrey, the Mayor of Pece- Laroo, took us to meet the local community.  One of the first questions we asked them was “How would the community feel if the only place we could find water was in the middle of someone’s farm, business location or house? With no hesitation, the entire community replied that they would be willing to give up some of their land if it meant everybody would get clean water.

A village with a giving spirit

We surveyed several locations to find the spot most likely to yield sufficient water for the entire village. The most promising location ended up being in a woman named Angom Hellen’s garden. The elderly woman laughed and said she would be happy to donate land for the well. “We meant what we said when we pledged that the borehole should be drilled in the best location. And if the best place had been inside my home, I would have gladly sacrificed that too”.

Auma Alice, an elected local community leader, was proud to point out that this same giving spirit was consistent while the well was drilled. The local community came out in force to help assist the drillers. They also dug a soak pit and built a fence around the well to keep it safe. Even workers from the local quarry came by to help.

“We used to depend on water from the Unyama river water.” recalls Atoo Betty, a mother of three. She shakes her head when she explains how they always found mud and other dirt settled at the bottom of the containers they used for fetching water. “We would let the water sit for a while until the dirt settled on the bottom and then we would pour off the clear water from the top of the container.  We knew the water wasn’t clean, but it was cleaner than the rest, so we used it.”

The New Well

Nyeko James Laten, the Chairman of the newly formed water committee, explained how before the borehole was drilled, all of the surrounding villages got their water from the Unyama river. “People from other villages are now coming to get clean water from the borehole,” states Nyeko.

While the water committee at Ngom Rom are happy to share their water, Nyeko asked us earnestly if it would be possible for Drop in the Bucket to help these other communities by drilling them wells too. Nyeko’s face lights up with a smile as he says “The name of our village means a place like other places. Wouldn’t it be nice if every village was like ours and had clean water?”

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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”