Rev. Mary Bope, pastor of Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church in Waupaca, has seen first hand the need for safe water in Africa.
“I lived in Africa in the late ‘70s as a Peace Corps volunteer,” Bope said. “You fall in love with the country and with the people. They have nothing, yet they are so gracious, so hospitable and so joyful that it gets in your blood.”
Bope said women and children in remote villages spent an average of five hours a day transporting unsafe water from distant streams and ponds to their homes.
She has made several mission trips to Uganda since her experience in the Peace Corps, most recently in January of this year.
“After more than 30 years, the problems of access to clean water remains,” Bope said.
According to a joint study by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, 780 million people do not have access to safe drinking water.
Bope said a child dies every 15 seconds in the developing world because of the lack of safe drinking water.
While serving as an associate pastor in Prescott, Arizona, Bope worked with Water 4 Kids International, based in Phoenix, and her congregation to build six wells in Africa.
Bope is now encouraging members of Shepherd of the Lakes and the community at large to help bring clean water to Nabigingo B, a village in Uganda.
The village has a population of 9,300 people, 62 percent of whom are children.
Their current water source is an open spring located more than three miles from the village.
The local fundraising campaign will run until the end of the year, and the church has raised more than half of the $10,150 it costs to drill a deep water well for the village.
Bope noted that Christmas is more about giving, rather than spending.
“Americans spend more than $450 billion on Christmas,” Bope said. “It would cost only $10 billion to solve the world’s water problem.”
She is asking the community to help with the project, because providing access to safe water is “not just a matter of Christian outreach, but a matter of meeting a basic human need.”
To donate to the well project, make checks payable to Shepherd of the Lakes and note “well” in the memo line. There is a display well for donations at the church, 153 County Trunk QQ, Waupaca. Donations may also be made online at www.shepherdofthelakes.com.