Visit to Grand Boulage

Our visit to the cistern and water system installed with funds raised by Ed through Water Life Hope was a dedication ceremony to rival Vialet. We were met by the school children at the mountain top community center with songs and escorted into the center where hundreds from the community had gathered for the celebration. As we waited for the program to begin we listened to local music and singers. We enjoyed quite a few impromptu songs as the rest of our group were shuttled up the mountain after the bus couldn’t make the grade.

The dedication began with a prayer thanking God “for a great moment … One long hoped for …. One that will be remembered forever.”

The program continued with thanks from community leaders and a reminder that this is a community of 10,000 families with children some of whom must get up at 3:00 in the morning to walk three hours round trip or longer to get water. Then we were treated to a play that showed with a mix of humor and seriousness how girls gather water from the same source as donkeys and can be accosted or harassed while carrying 40 lb pails of water up the mountain.

Ed spoke to the community and thanked them explaining how water is “liquid hope” and that the community of Grand Boulage would remain in our hearts. We were then thanked again by children delivering gifts of baskets full of peas.

Then it was off to visit the Cistern that ultimately will hold 25,000 gallons that will be pumped from a lower reservoir at the bottom of the mountain then distributed to kiosks for the community. The cistern was built by the families that will benefit from it, hauling stones up the mountain and grading the roads. Before it was in place the water source was a 2 kilometer walk for the closest families – 10 kilometers for some.

Finally, we took time to experience the steep, rocky hike to the stream that is the water source for five regions. The people of Grand Boulage lined up to make sure we made it while 5 to 12 year olds marched up the mountain with water buckets balanced on their heads. At the bottom we saw a 20,000 gallon reservoir that is waiting for three pumps in customs – completion is less than a month away!

John F. Beasley, Jr.

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