• With funding help from the Rev. Grace Imathiu, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Evanston, Illinois, and church members Drs. Christine and Mike McGuire, the congregation established a borehole project in Migori County.
• Previously, women and girls rose early each day to collect contaminated water. “I am no longer late for school,” said Josephine Kwamboka, 12. “I have enough time to study.”
• Water-borne illnesses have decreased significantly, according to the pastor and community members.
A borehole project in rural Kenya is transforming lives, and United Methodists are playing a significant role.
For years, residents in Migori County were forced to gather contaminated water from a dying stream littered with paper, plastic and heaps of garbage. Spending up to one-third of their day collecting water in the scorching heat, women and children were vulnerable to water-borne illnesses and predator attack.
In December 2019, the 280-member First United Methodist Church in Moheto, Kenya, devised a plan to provide safe, clean water for the community.
The Moheto congregation established a borehole project in Migori County with funding help from the Rev. Grace Imathiu, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Evanston, Illinois, and church members Drs. Christine and Mike McGuire. Today, some 2,000 community members — including 500 pupils at Moheto Primary School — benefit.
Water is pumped by a generator from a borehole that is 230 meters deep. A water-collection point with a 2,642-gallon (10,000-liter) tank was installed at the church compound. The tank is mounted on a raised stand to increase the rate at which piped water flows to homes in the community. Water sourced from the borehole is used for domestic, irrigation and livestock purposes.
The new borehole project is just one example of United Methodist support for water and sanitation projects worldwide.
The church established a community water point within the compound to serve residents who lack piped water in their homes. With the COVID-19 pandemic, water has played a key role in handwashing during church services. A handwashing facility was constructed at the primary school.
“The water project not only reflects the heart of God directly because he continuously shows his love for us in meeting our physical needs, but it also gives the church an avenue to demonstrate the love of God in the gospel,” said beneficiary Anna Mashirima, whose family uses piped water from the church.
“Jesus frequently utilized bodily needs ministry to pave the (way) for spiritual needs ministry,” said Francisca Elnora, a church member. “His ability to heal not only saved people’s lives but also helped create his identity as the divinely appointed Son of God.”
Beneficiary Joys Boke said people are extremely happy and at peace.
“They no longer have to get up early in the morning to fetch water. During the dry season, the nearby stream kept drying up. We had to fetch low-quality water that gave our children diarrhea and impacted school attendance.”
Student Josephine Kwamboka says the borehole has changed her life.
“It was very difficult for me and my sisters to get water from the stream every morning at six o’clock,” said the 12-year-old. “I am no longer late for school, and I have enough time now to study.”
Church member Samwel Chacha noted that the piped water from the borehole has improved community sanitation and hygiene. “Pit latrines are cleaned with water in leak tins and soap,” Chacha said.
“The church has helped the Moheto community to navigate through intense dry spells,” he said, “while performing preventative maintenance and conducting quality repairs when needed.”
Some community members did not realize that contaminated water contributed to illness.
“After the construction of the borehole and tap-water installation,” said Eustna Robi, “sicknesses like diarrhea, typhoid and dysentery that were posing serious medical threats are no more. Water is life, and getting clean, pure drinking water at your doorstep is a very big blessing.”
The Rev. Kennedy Mwita, senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Moheto, noted that water infections are a significant health concern in rural Kenya, and people have been left unprotected against occasional outbreaks of cholera and parasitic worms.
“The rate of exposure is quite high.” Mwita said, “since the water at the streams is heavily contaminated, and the containers for collecting water are, most of the time, found, secondhand objects used previously for oil, fertilizer or wastes.”
Lives have been transformed, the pastor noted.
“Community members have been coming to fetch water from the water-collection point at our church because there is no other clean water point nearby,” he said. “The church has a maize farm. We use the water in the tanks to irrigate it.”
The borehole water is saving the church money while the main church building is being constructed. “We would have paid so much to those who supply water on the construction site,” Mwita said.
He invited United Methodists worldwide to join the congregation’s commitment to sustainability by giving generously to the borehole project.
“Our vision,” he said, “is to pipe water to different strategic points where community members can easily access water. By collaborating in the work of the church in the Moheto community — by assisting in the provision of clean water — you are investing in the kingdom of God.”
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