After a number of challenging trips from South Africa to South Sudan, Abe de Fin, director of Tend International (a humanitarian ministry affiliated with World Outreach International), has joyfully reported that a water project in the Northern Bhar Ghazal town of Akuem was finally completed and commissioned earlier this year. This announcement sounds simple and does not convey the seemingly endless obstacles Abe had to overcome for this pilot water project to happen in a nation where basic infrastructure just does not exist.
Abe was burdened of the Lord to undertake an exploratory visit to the country in 2014. Two days after he flew out of the capital Juba to return home, he learned that thousands in the city had been killed and more than two million had been displaced and were in need of food aid. More than 75,000 fled to refugee camps. The nation was also experiencing a huge drought, causing villagers, mostly women and children, to walk long hours each day to find water. There was never any water to grow crops.
After much hard work and perseverance in an inhospitable environment, Abe reported that he breathed a sigh of relief when the first few litres of water thundered into the tanks powered by the basic solar system he had installed. A happy sound indeed in a dry and thirsty land.
With young men forced to serve in the military, Abe discovered there were literally hundreds of villages populated by old men, women (many were widows), and children. They had little or no means to feed themselves.
Abe is thrilled that this small project has already brought a measure of relief to the widows, orphans, and the very poor, many of whom are believers. Even as he was about to return home from his latest visit to Akuem, Abe said many there are still starving. He was able to pass on some cash for the pastors to purchase sorghum for the people to eat until the newly planted crops mature. In Akuem Abe appointed a 60-member garden group to represent each family, with all having a small portion to farm and grow vegetables. The community at large can also collect some water from the project on a daily basis.
Abe is indebted to the financial gifts from friends of World Outreach International, which have helped make this all possible. While the war situation made everything expensive, we thank God that a lifeline project has been established that will benefit many village communities for years to come.
By John Elliott