Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Woman at the Well

By David Uttley, a freelance photographer working with Samaritan’s Purse

“I walk an hour to come and get water at this well,” Pokita Alotihav told me.

It is just daybreak and it’s already hot in this village near Akuem in South Sudan. We are standing at a well site drilled by Samaritan’s Purse. From the air, the footpaths would look like spokes on a wheel as people come from every direction this morning to get water.

“Clean water improves our lives,” Pokita said. “Before we had this well, we got water from the Akuem River. Now, we are drinking clean water.”

As a freelance photographer, I have the enviable job of telling the story of how Samaritan’s Purse is changing lives around the world. Today is no different, as this expressive Dinka woman (pictured above) tells her story.

“Even though it is far, I’m willing to walk this distance because clean water makes a big difference in my family. My children are now healthy. Through the training we’ve received from Samaritan’s Purse, we have learned how disease is spread by drinking dirty water from the river.”

Clean and safe water is not something I ever gave a whole lot of thought to, at least before coming to South Sudan. It is rugged, hot and dry here. It’s the kind of hot where my major preoccupation is how do I stay hydrated. It’s a little hard to really wrap my head around how different our lives really are, as this beautiful woman excitedly shares how this well is such a blessing to their community—all before placing her 5-gallon (45-pound) jerry can on her head and walking the hour it takes to get home.

“I am so thankful to Samaritan’s Purse for what they have done here,” she said. “I pray that God will bless them, so that they will be able to come to our nearby communities, so that we can have water like this.”

Pokita is both thankful and hopeful. Thankful that her children no longer struggle with chronic sickness, and hopeful that she will one day be spared the hour’s walk to get water. Hours a day that she can then spend gardening, running a small business and providing for her family.

It was amazing for me to hear the change that one well can make to a village in South Sudan. Entire communities are transformed when we provide them with safe water.

Through campaigns like 5 Wells in 5 Days we can do even more. Each well will make a difference in one village in South Sudan. Together we can bring clean, safe water even closer to women like Pokita, and make her hope a reality. Pokita thanks you! Pokita’s children thank you!