In the late 1990s, a farmer in the state of Kansas, USA, died. His widow, wanting to honor him, asked if a well could be dug in Nigeria to provide water for people who needed water, because as a farmer, he knew the value of water. The challenge was accepted, and a young staff member of HVCF was trained in the construction of hand-dug wells with handpumps on top. The well was constructed and a photo was sent to the widow, with a signboard that stated that the well was dug in memory of her husband, a farmer who knew the value of water. This was the beginning of the well program of Hope for the Village Child, and the seed that this generous woman planted has blossomed into 225 wells in rural communities throughout the area.
Many communities struggle for potable water; many, usually women and girls, walk long distances, even miles, to get water, and that water is very often unclean and full of dangerous bacteria. This is what brings them to apply for their chance of getting a well from the well program of HVCF. The requirements of the community are that they do the digging, they supply water for the cement (the wells are ringed to prevent collapsing), they bring stones to outline the pump platform, they provide food for the workers, they give a small financial contribution and they set up a committee who will manage the well and take care of repairs.
With a donation of $1,200, HVCF is able to provide the cement, sand, gravel, and handpump along with small incidentals such as handgloves, shovels, etc. HVCF brings the equipment and provides trained supervisors and helpers to ensure safety and quality.
Why hand dug wells? Why not boreholes (drilled wells)?
There are several reasons why we prefer hand dug wells. We are fortunate to be able to do hand dug wells because there is no stone that hinders us before water is reached. In areas where stone underlies the top soil, people are forced to drill for water. A reason why we prefer our own system is that it is much less expensive than drilling a well. This allows us to assist more communities to have potable water. Another reason has to do with maintenance. To properly maintain a borehole, it is advised that it should be flushed out yearly. To flush a borehole, one must bring special equipment into the community (usually over rough roads or paths) and that costs almost as much as drilling a new hole. Furthermore, it is only the experts who can maintain a borehole whereas with the hand dug wells, the people are taught how to maintain it, how to repair the pump if it gets faulty and additionally, they can afford the small amount of money needed for any repair. Finally, if a borehole gets blocked, no one can access water. With the hand-dug well, there is a covered opening on the pump platform that can be removed so water can be fetched until the well is repaired.
How long does it take to dig a well?
All of our wells are completed from January to early June in a year. The reason for this is because that is the dry season and the water level is low, especially by April and May. By completing the well during that time, we can be reasonably assured that the well will not go dry throughout the year. In addition, that is the time of the year when people are more able to assist in the program. After that the rains begin and people engage in their farming.
Who funds wells?
We have had donors who are individuals, groups, parishes, schools and families. They give to the well program for different reasons. Some want to do it in memory of someone; others do it to honor someone. Some just want to indicate that they are concerned about people having access to clean water. Each well dug has a signboard indicating what the donor would like to have written on it, whether it is the name of person remembered or honored or it is a quotation that is requested and the name of the donor(s) if requested. It also includes the name of the community and the name, Hope for the Village Child.
Are the wells all in different communities?
Yes and no. They are all in different communities insofar as they are not located so close to one another but there may be several in a large community if that community meets the requirements for a well. This is because many people use a well, and it would be difficult for a large number of people to have access if there is only one well. Smaller communities often have only one well.
Where did people get water before they got a well?
Actually, some people do have nearby wells, but they are often open wells, allowing any dirt and germs to get into the water. They are also not ringed and sometimes collapse. For others, they go to a nearby stream and share water with cattle and other animals, etc.
How can I sponsor a well?
In order to sponsor a well, one only needs to send $1,200 to the address below and state somewhere on the cheque or in a note or information line that you wish to donate a well to a community of Hope of the Village Child. When the digging begins, you will be contacted by the Director of HVCF to indicate what you would like written on the sign on ‘your’ well. You will then later get a photo of the completed well with the community.
The address is: Dominican Sisters of Peace,
2320 Airport Road,
Columbus, OH 43219