Point Hope’s biggest challenge and our biggest success to date has been getting fresh water into Buduburam! It took four years and quite a bit of money, but finally, in May of 2008, clean, fresh water started flowing into the camp! At first there were just three “fetching stations”, but now there are 19! (A “fetching station” is comprised of double-sided spigots, much like we would see outside in our gardens in America.) Imagine, 38 spigots for 124 acres and 24,000 people! Incredible, huh? Yet, such a vast improvement over what was (or was not) there for the previous 18 years!
Why is this such a big deal?
The residents in Buduburam have the same need for fresh running water that you and I have. However, when Delilah and Point Hope first went to the refugee camp in 2004, the biggest problems was the lack of access to fresh water—there was no fresh water! The residents of the camp relied on water vendors to bring large truckloads of water from a nearby polluted lake; the water was filthy and it still cost five cents for each small container of dirty water! Many people couldn’t afford even to pay that much and often collected water from the sewer ditch next to the road, using pebbles as a “filter”. As a result, the clinic was filled with children who were dying from water-borne diseases. People everywhere were sick and starving to death, the conditions were deplorable.
Initially, Point Hope collaborated with UNHCR, which dug wells with little success. We purchased additional land which we tried drilling on, but even when water was discovered, its salt content made it impossible to drink. Finally, Point Hope worked out a partnership with the Ghana Water Company; we paid for and laid down underground pipes that connected with their water supply, then built a pumping station and constructed a water tower. This allowed the first regular flow of fresh, affordable water into the residents of Buduburam—not just to the refugee camp, but also to the surrounding community.
Today, there are two water towers purchased, installed and maintained by Point Hope in place at the camp. Fresh water flows every day there is water and electricity available. The changes are dramatic and pronounced:
- The medical professionals who treat the people at the clinic tell Point Hope that illness and death from water-borne diseases were reduced by approximately 75% within the first year of the availability of fresh water.
- People who used to only be able to bathe once a day — or even only once a week — proudly tell us that they are now able to bathe as much as three times a day, if needed (and there are days were the heat and the dirt make it needed!).
- Mothers and fathers speak enthusiastically about how much the extra money (which used to be spent purchasing water from street vendors) has helped them provide other necessities for their families, such as food and medicine.
In short, the availability of water has improved the refugees’ lives in every sense possible.
Today we also have a team of workers that monitor each fetching station so the equipment does not break and so that the water is distributed in a timely and affordable manner. We call this team our “Living Water” group. They also collect the nominal fee of a few cents for a five gallon container which Point Hope charges, which is just enough to pay the Living Water workers for their time and to pay for maintenance of the water system.
If you are thinking of the people who still can’t afford to pay even a few cents, maybe you would like to help Point Hope help them. There is an opportunity for you to help fill a bucket with fresh water. For just $30.00, you can fill a family’s need for one month.