Tanzanian village has fresh water thanks to diocesan grant and Methuen partners

Well Courtesy Photo The drilling of the borehole for the well in the village of Nghumbi in Tanzania.

Thanks to a diocesan Sustainable Development Grant, the small village of Nghumbi in Tanzania is closer than ever before to having a well of clean drinking water for the first time.

This spring, a Sustainable Development Grant of $10,000 was awarded to the partnership of St. Andrew’s Church in Methuen, Engineers Without Borders, the village of Nghumbi in Tanzania and the Anglican Diocese of Mpwapwa as they contribute to the goal of clean water and sanitation by collaborating to install a well in Nghumbi. 

The Diocese of Massachusetts Sustainable Development Grants serve as a financial and networking resource for diocesan congregations to work with and support sustainable growth and development projects with partners located in underdeveloped, isolated, marginalized or underresourced communities.

Laura Walta, who served for five years as the project director for global mission under the diocese’s Together Now campaign, had already been on multiple trips to the diocese of Mpwapwa in Tanzania when her congregation at St. Andrew's in Methuen began discussing ways to use its resources more thoughtfully in the spirit of giving, to help people with real needs--like having clean water to drink.

What began as a conversation quickly turned into offerings and fundraisers for the village of Nghumbi in the Diocese of Mpwapwa so that the village could build a well to have clean drinking water. From there, St. Andrew’s began a relationship with St. John’s Anglican Church in Tanzania, not only working on the well that would benefit the entire village, but other projects as well, such as sending a library of children’s books from St. Andrew’s to Nghumbi.

The two parishes are in regular communication and share their prayer lists with one another.

Drinking from the well Courtesy Photo A local woman from the village tastes the clean water from the borehole.

Over the past three years, St. Andrew’s has paid for the completion of a hydrogeological study and analysis that led to the drilling of a borehole for the well.  The funds from the diocesan Sustainable Development Grant will help to complete the well hole and install a water tank, pump, power supply and distribution network to the village.  

In an interview, Walta explained her gratitude for her parish's Tanzanian partners and the gifts that they bring to the partnership, particularly their strong faith in God.

“It’s wonderful to have Tanzanian partners, because if you forget, they remind you that all things work together when God’s in charge,” Walta said. “They are so thankful, and they remind us to be thankful for all that we have accomplished together, and that we should not despair when something comes up or doesn’t go as planned, because God always has an answer.”

The Rev. Holly Hartman, Missioner for Global Partnerships, said in an e-mail that this grant money will go a long way in helping to bring clean water to those who desperately need it.

“It's hard to imagine what it is like to live without clean water at our immediate disposal, but there are so many people around the world that do not have access to this basic need,” Hartman said. She emphasized the importance of building strong partnerships as St. Andrew’s has done with the leadership of the community, including the bishop of the Diocese of Mpwapwa, as well as Engineers Without Borders, a highly regarded nonprofit.

“These are excellent examples of best practices in global mission, and exactly what the grants committee was looking for when it reviewed applications,” Hartman said.

Children's Library Courtesy Photo St. John's Anglican Church in Nghumbi, Tanzania, received a library of children's books from St. Andrew's Church in Methuen.

Walta said that this partnership is changing people’s lives both here in the U.S. as well as in Tanzania, and encourages other parishes to consider similar partnerships and relationships.

“This is really changing the way we think about each other, about God and about our purpose and our gifts,” Walta said. “I hope that others continue to think and explore and take those first steps.  It’s definitely a journey to be anticipated and not feared.” 

--Bridget K. Wood

Learn more about diocesan Sustainable Development Grants here.

Saturday, Sept. 14 fundraiser event for Nghumbi, Tanzania.