“My children get sick when water is scarce.” Alvin (AL-Veen), a NiVan woman from Mataloi village, rises early each morning, leaving her one-room wooden hut with a leaf roof to spend her day weeding and toiling in a nearby garden. She tries to cultivate enough kumala (sweet potato), manioc, or island cabbage to keep her family fed. The high humidity and heavy downpours in the wet hurricane season (from November to March) and the long dry season thereafter are too extreme to offer much of a harvest. The land is often overused, and most villagers have no money for fertilizer or different seeds, as any income is taken for school fees or soap.
“One time, I went to work in the garden for the day. After I finished, I came back home, and I couldn’t prepare dinner because we didn’t have any water. The children usually fetch water after school for dinner, but school finished late so they couldn’t go get water.” Alvin told our field leaders in Vanuatu, (Levi and Jenn Pitman), that her child was sick by morning from not eating, and her other child grew sick later from dysentery contracted by eating with dirty hands.”
Sadly, Alvin’s story is not an isolated one. Many villagers and their children suffer from water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, Hepatitis A and Cholera. Even the local clinic suffers due to the water shortage. Manuel, a nurse practitioner, serves a population of almost 2,344 people (500+ households and 50-60+ villages). Treating dehydrated patients, those with water-borne diseases, or any ailment is a challenge with an unpredictable or contaminated water source. “Our current tanked water source is not reliable because we have a shortage of water during the dry season. We don’t use the storage tank for drinking water because there are cows living close to the creek, which is the main source supply.
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“It’s been a real eye-opener,” shared FIA’s field leader Jenn Pitman, who was appalled when researching the water scarcity issues of the people she serves. “The issue is so devastating and far-reaching, affecting so many villagers in significant and life-altering ways on a daily basis. The need is great, but God is greater. I am glad He is providing an opening to intervene.”
WHO: FIA partnering with The Collaboratory at Messiah College
WHAT: Artesian well systems directed to 30 villages, 3 schools, and 2 clinics (over 3,500 people).
WHERE: FIA has secured a source of water in a high mountain spring that produces 48 gallons per minute, enough to meet the demands of thousands of villagers nearby by running 16 miles of gravity-fed piping.
WHEN: Teams of short-term volunteers are already slated for 2019 and beyond.
WHY: While alleviating the water scarcity issue is paramount, providing the villagers with an opportunity to take hold of eternal life is even more pressing. Pastor Gabi, an indigenous pastor, explains how the water project will open hearts to the Gospel. “The water project will open a door to reach all the villages. It will be a tool to reach the hearts of the people with the Gospel. Many people don’t know who Jesus Christ really is. They believe in custom beliefs and the water that belongs to the witch doctors. When the water project reaches those villages, it will be a way to share the Gospel with the people. It will teach people that Jesus is the only true water that gives life. ”
COST: The scope of the project will require approximately $450,000 and five phases to complete.
With your help, FIA is ready to provide a solution for these desperate villagers. During this season of tax returns, please consider giving towards this critical outreach in Vanuatu. This newsletter is sent to FIA’s approximately 2,000 supporters. If each person who is reading about this grave situation gives $225, the project would be fully funded!
Please pray for the NiVan villagers and the opportunity of making God known to those who have never heard of Him or experienced His love.