Villagers of Dhoreak, South Sudan.
The Alaska Sudan Medical Project is, well by well, bringing clean water to an area of South Sudan that when we arrived in 2008 had very few sources of clean drinking water. Most of the 23 wells we have completed are in the area of Old Fangak--a village in the northern part of the country along a branch of the Nile river. This village has become a safe haven for refugees fleeing civil war violence and has seen a surge in population of 50,000 internally displaced people. This past December we drilled another two wells for the growing population. And then we heard the story of another village needing help.
The tiny village of Dhoreak is an hour up river by small boat and a 90 minute walk inland. Until this past March villagers got their drinking water from a swamp which was brown in color, used by cattle, and filled with disease. We decided that this village would be the next place to drill boreholes for clean drinking water. We called our project two wells for Dhoreak: Mission Possible.
It was among the most challenging of projects we've undergone in the past decade. Most of the heavy equipment and supplies had to be carried by foot in 120 degree temperatures for several miles. But the villagers themselves said it would not be a problem. Each 50lb bag of sand, every galvanized iron pipe, the gravel and cement--everything we needed carried to the village. The drill rig had to somehow get across the swamp. Canoes made of tree trunks became a makeshift “raft” to carry the heavy rig to where it was needed. The water “mud” pits used for drilling were too far for our hoses to reach. So the women of the village filled them by hand. One 5 gallon Jerry can at a time.
So many challenges, including broken equipment, were met head-on and overcome. Today we can report that Dhoreak has two working water wells bringing that community its first and only sources of clean drinking water.
We can only do this work with the help of caring individuals who understand that when we lift up the health of one small village, we are improving the health of the global community. Our motto is “hope and health for life.” Not just in South Sudan. For all of us. We plan to continue this work until people living in this area of South Sudan are all drinking pure, clean water. Together we are making a difference!