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St. Vicent Buliganwa Primary School: The ripple effect of giving a school clean water

How Water Changes Everything

At Drop in the Bucket, we believe in the transformative power of clean water and education. Today, we want to share an inspiring story of resilience and determination from St. Vicent Buliganwa Primary School in Uganda. This is a tale of how providing clean water to a school had a ripple effect, transforming not only the school but also the entire community.

A Challenging Assignment

Mr. Owino Isaac, the Headteacher St. Vicent Buliganwa primary school
Mr. Owino Isaac, the Headteacher St. Vicent Buliganwa primary school

Meet Owino Isaac, a seasoned head teacher known for his commitment to improving schools in rural areas. When he first arrived at St. Vicent Buliganwa Primary School, he was confronted with a multitude of challenges. Inadequate facilities, reluctant teachers, a remote location, and illiterate parents who undervalued education were just a few of the obstacles he faced. Determined to make a difference, Owino began devising strategies to enhance the school and attract more students.

The Water Dilemma

One of the critical issues facing the school was the lack of access to clean water. Both the school and the community relied on a nearby swamp as their water source. Recognizing the potential of a borehole well to uplift the spirits of the community, Owino set his sights on this solution. He had seen its impact in the past and believed it could work wonders at St. Vicent’s.

A Welcome Surprise
Hope came unexpectedly when a Drop in the Bucket truck arrived at the school. Excitedly, Owino showed our staff around the school grounds, and they identified a promising area for a well. Our dedicated team returned for a survey, and within a few weeks, St. Vicent Buliganwa Primary School had its own well.

A child washes his hands at the new well drilled by Dropin the Bucket for the st Vicent Buliganwa primary school in Uganda
A child washes his hands at the new well drilled by Dropin the Bucket for the st Vicent Buliganwa primary school in Uganda

A Turning Point
The provision of clean water became a powerful motivator for parents who had been hesitant to send their children to the school. Owino, fueled by determination, embarked on a door-to-door campaign, engaging with parents and children, emphasizing the importance of education. He assured them that their children would have access to clean water and a nutritious meal – a promise he fulfilled by personally making porridge for the students.

Alikooba Margret, a community member
Alikooba Margret, mother and community member from Buliganwa, Uganda

A Mother’s Perspective
One mother, Alikooba Margret, had initially enrolled only one child in the school. However, after witnessing the positive changes brought about by the well, she eagerly sent her other children to join. Speaking with admiration, Margret acknowledges Owino’s unwavering commitment and credits the clean water borehole for transforming the community’s quality of life. The water no longer smells, it is safe for drinking, and it has improved the cleanliness of clothes. Her gratitude is evident, and she attributes her children’s increased enrollment to the provision of clean water.

A Triumph for the Community

Owino humbly considers the well as one of his significant achievements. However, his impact extends far beyond this accomplishment. When he first arrived at St. Vincent Buliganwa Primary School, he was shocked to find that the school had just 12 students. Now, just a few years into his leadership, the school is a thriving institution with 381 pupils. He smiles and confidently states that he is sure the numbers will continue to rise.

The story of St. Vicent Buliganwa Primary School exemplifies the transformative power of clean water and education. Through the dedication and passion of individuals like Owino Isaac and the support of organizations like Drop in the Bucket, entire communities can experience positive change. As we witness the ripple effect of clean water, we are inspired to continue our mission, bringing hope and opportunities to those in need.

Students and the local community celebrate the new well at the The new well at St Vicent Buliganwa primary school in Uganda. Join us in our endeavor to make a lasting impact and create a brighter future for all.


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.


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.

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.


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!


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


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


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?”


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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