To the Editor,
As I was watching folks carry water to their cars at Tops in Hoosick Falls back in January, I saw in my mind’s eye a vision from a trip I made to Uganda.[private] It was of women and children carrying 5 gallon jerry cans of water on their heads during a 2-5 mile trek home (often twice a day) after fetching water from a source that was likely contaminated with micro-organisms that could lead to disease and death.
At that moment, the thought occurred to me that residents could now empathize, to some degree, with countries who do not have easily accessible potable water. A seed was planted to use our experience to help save lives in Africa.
Since January, many other towns have also learned they have PFOA. Our communities have been blessed to have various governmental agencies come alongside of us to help work through our crises, but Uganda has no such support. Their crisis will never end unless someone like us and organizations like Ugandan Water Project step in.
Borehole wells are the most common method of water delivery in Africa and are the primary drinking source for millions of people there; however, 30% of wells in Sub-Saharan Africa are broken at any given time. The water is there, but can’t be accessed. The Ugandan Water Project will rehab a village’s well and work with community leaders to develop a strong buy-in for the maintenance and ownership process so wells don’t fall into disrepair again.
Each well serves about 1,000 people and the cost to rehab is $2,000. That’s just $2 per person! Out of empathy and compassion for those without, and as an expression of gratitude for help we have received, the “PFOA Water Crisis: Paying it Forward” campaign has been established.
Our goal is to provide clean water for the same number of Ugandans as people who have been affected in Hoosick Falls and the Town of Hoosick (the “pioneer” in the PFOA crisis) – 7,000! That’s 7 wells, for a total campaign of $14,000. We are challenging families, groups, individuals, churches, organizations and schools – both in our community and outside – to consider making donations or raising funds to help meet $7,000 of that goal. We are hoping to raise the other half through matching donations of $500 or $1,000 each.
This appeal is not just for those who can empathize, but also for those who have heard about communities struggling with PFOA and wished there was something they could do. If you feel there is no way you can help locally, besides prayer (please do), let me suggest that you can help globally, by donating in honor of those affected, to bring clean water to the Ugandan people.
For 8 months, I have been waiting for the “optimum time” to roll this campaign out. There is none. I struggle even now because things are still so tenuous, but I must. The sooner we act, the sooner 7,000 Ugandans stop drinking water that can lead to disease and death. Plus, I firmly believe God wants to bless our communities as we reach out to Uganda while struggling through our own crises.
Though many things are still up in the air in all of the communities affected, we have much to be thankful for. I pray that our experience, as hard as it is, will give us compassion for others who can’t help themselves, and that you will be blessed knowing just a small donation can make a life-saving difference.
To make your tax-deductible contribution, visit our campaign page at http://ugandanwaterproject.com/product/pfoa/ or mail your check to UWP, 2648 Rabbit Run, Bloomfield, NY 14469 with a notation “PFOA Water Crisis.” As soon as the first $2,000 is raised, UWP can schedule a well rehab. You can find updates on facebook at “PFOA Water Crisis: Paying it Forward.”
For more information or if you are interested in matching funds, please contact me at 518-686-9888.
Gail M. Smith
N. Petersburgh, NY [/private]