Bringing Hope to the Democratic Republic of the Congo
by Ron Orcajada, Household Water Program Manager, Samaritan's Purse
Samaritan’s Purse is helping families by providing clean water through water filters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Our "Adam" filter was the first BioSand Filter we installed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On a Saturday I boarded a bright orange Kin Avia 17-seat plane from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), for a two hour flight to Boma, a port town on the Congo River about 100 km from the Atlantic Ocean. Explorer Henry Morton Stanley began his cross Africa trek via the Congo River in Boma. I was later informed that the hollow of a massive Baobab tree was where Stanley slept his first night in Africa. I walked passed this tree every day.
The DRC is a massive country with nearly 80 million people. The Congo River spans thousands of miles and links millions of people from east to west. I am currently reading a book on Congolese history – it’s both an informative and depressing read. It’s a place of great natural resources and potential, but unfortunately greed has consistently led to tragedy after tragedy. Perpetually, the DRC is on the lowest rung of the human development index. Wars and warlords, HIV, exploitation … all ongoing challenges.
Our team prays for the filter, and the lives that it will impact.
Three years ago I thought I’d explore the potential of introducing a BioSand Filter (BSF) project to this huge ‘mud puddle’; perhaps a Samaritan’s Purse Canada water project and the BSF could make some small difference? After more exploration I connected with the Communauté Evangelique de l’Alliance au Congo (CEAC) – the Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in Congo. The CEAC has a great testimony in the DRC and churches are actively serving and sharing the love of Jesus. This is so evident in Boma, where the headquarters are present, and I don’t believe I could have found a greater partner in the DRC. After a year of planning, this trip represented the launch of our partnership.
After a busy time of team training, site assessments, media source selection, media processing, roughing out the first Samaritan Filter for addressing school water issues in Africa (and much more), we were able to install our first BSF in the DRC – this “Adam” filter is new for us … it’s plastic! We’re trying new things and conducting a project fully using plastic filters (instead of concrete) which we are bringing in from the United States. Alongside this, we plan to work in six to eight schools to install the Samaritan Filter and new latrines so kids can have a healthier school experience.
A before and after look at our "Adam" filter, the first BioSand Filter we installed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Alas, my time went by too quickly. It was time to board the orange airplane again. I was so encouraged because the leaders of the denomination formally commissioned the project just before I left. In faith, I believe our partnership is off to a good start. I boarded the orange plane feeling quite happy inside.
Learn more about Samaritan's Purse Water Projects.