August 2019, Juru Sector of Rwanda
Our second day in-country, an hour outside of the capital, we drive into a small town and pull into a Pentecostal church next to a school. We often talk about the fact that volunteers invest in clean water with their time, but at this church there are a dozen bikes in the yard. And these bikes are why I wanted to come here.
We’re in the Juru sector where the Water Project started working in late 2015. We finished distributing filters by February 2017. 12 local church leaders, 32 volunteers and 6 community health workers performed all the implementation, training and assembling to provide clean drinking water to over 19,765 people. And that was just the beginning. The volunteers and health workers still visit recipient families and facilities to make sure everything is in working order.
Juru Sector is around 16 square miles. Each volunteer is assigned to visit roughly 52 sites. In order to keep visiting families, each volunteer was spending a significant amount of time walking from site to site to ensure that their work was sustainable.
This is a challenge. One these volunteers decided to solve.
Volunteers with 20 Liters also have access to other World Relief programs, like joining a Savings for Life group. The Juru volunteers formed a savings group and when they started considering what to do with their profits, they made an incredible choice: our volunteers chose to invest in clean water. They invested their profits it into the work of the Water Project by buying bicycles for the team.
This is dedication, commitment and sacrifice. The revenue from the Savings group is theirs to spend how they wish. They could have purchased land, paid their health insurance or electric bills. Frankly, they could have bought bikes just for personal use.
Pascale, one of the volunteers, says the bikes alleviate his stress:
“We had this challenge. We are also busy with our families and work. When a family calls for help, we might have to delay until we can find enough time to visit them. Now, we just get a bicycle and go immediately.”
“I do this because I can only just think about the family not having clean water while they wait for me to come. Now that I can come quickly, I don’t have to worry for them.”
This humbles me. Am I as dedicated to the things I volunteer for? These volunteers offer me a challenge and an example to follow: to worry about the needs of others is good.
From the Field Notes of Chip Kragt. Chip was hired as the Managing Director for 20 Liters in August of 2015. Chip is passionate about the humanitarian right to basic necessities and breaking the cycle of poverty. He and his wife are raising their first child in Grand Rapids, MI and are expecting a second child soon.