Signs of shalom can be simple. As simple and precious as clean water.
I had a wonderful opportunity to join Fr. Joseph Kakooza and 2 local school communities for the dedication of 2 new wells. Both schools are located in the central Luweero region about 60 kilometers north of Kampala. Sponsored by Share the Blessings through a generous grant from RetailROI, the first well was installed at St. Jude Primary School, a very poor, rural elementary school in Kabubbu village.
I have participated in many community events during my trips to Uganda over the past 14 years, but I have never seen the formal dedication of a well. In truth, I expected a “well dedication” to be a relatively tame affair – a few school officials, a few student leaders, a formal speech or two, ribbon cutting and photo-op, and away we go. You can imagine my surprise, then, as we drove up to the school with hundreds of students lining the road, cheering, dancing and clapping. “Ekyo kya bulijjo”? Literally in Luganda, “does this happen every day”?
I soon learned that the reasons for such celebration went beyond typical Ugandan hospitality for foreign visitors. Namely, the 500 students at this school had been traveling by foot for upwards of 2 hours to fetch water from nearby streams. The water was often contaminated. To make matters worse, the long journeys exposed the students to great physical dangers, ranging from robbery to injury to sexual assault. So a simple $5,000 pump well offers so much to this community.
As the students sing in this video, “Water is Life!” A small sign of shalom, in a remote village in central Uganda.