Water is Life

October 17, 2022

Posted by Amanda, Director of Outreach

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Water is Life

As the saying goes, water is life. For Mathilda Mukantumwa and her husband Evariste, those words carry deeper meaning.

After raising five children and enduring as many decades of poverty, Mathilda and Evariste bear the scars of struggle. Years of hard physical labor have left Mathilda with chronic backaches. Evariste suffers from asthma, a condition for which he must take medication and drink filtered water.

But in Rwanda’s Rukumberi sector, clean water is a scarce commodity. For years, desperate to keep her husband healthy, Mathilda emptied the family’s savings to purchase firewood, which she used as fuel for boiling contaminated lake water. If time was scarce, Mathilda would pay a premium to have jerrycans of filtered water delivered from a nearby village.

Forced to invest the bulk of their time and resources to basic survival, the Mukantumwas fell into a hard, lonely way of life.

One day, a local church group knocked on Mathilda’s door. The church had recently begun partnering with World Relief, which trained its members to implement holistic, community-led development initiatives. One of these initiatives was the Water Project. Project leaders had identified the Mukantumwas as vulnerable members of the community and selected them to receive a water filter.

While neighbors had long known of the Mukantumwas’ immediate, physical need for clean water, local leaders believed the filter could become a catalyst for much deeper transformation. They knew the same interconnected realities that make the cycle of poverty so vicious often mean that something as simple as a water filter can create a domino effect of breakthroughs.

To their delight, they have been proven right. Today, Mathilda and Evariste are hard-pressed to name an area of their life that has not improved as a result of their filter. Although their health concerns have not disappeared, their stress about finding clean water has. Meanwhile, their savings – formerly devoted to securing filtered water – have grown, allowing them to purchase school materials for their children.

The holistic, perhaps even generational, impact of the filter has not stopped there.

Since the Mukantumwas live near their local market, neighbors have made a habit of stopping by for a drink. These quick visits planted unexpected seeds of friendship and support. After years of grinding poverty, such deep community has been a balm to Mathilda’s weary soul.

As the Mukantumwas reflect on all that has changed, they can’t help dwell in a new feeling: gratitude. Perhaps one of the most lasting impacts of access to clean water is an abiding sense of appreciation – to God, His church, and the neighbors who have cared for them. Perhaps, this deeper understanding of community brings new meaning to the words: water is life.

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