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Special Projects - Fresh Drinking Water
Periodically the parishioners of St Irene Parish embark on a very special project. Here are descriptions of some of their work.
Fresh Drinking Water
While completing his theological studies in Boston, Fr. Winiko served as a priest at St Irene's. His home village did not have a source of clean drinking water. St Irene's parishioners solved that problem.
Home is a village of about 500 people in Malawi. Chinyama Village, Thunga Area, Traditional Authority Bvumbwe, Malawi, Africa is about 20 miles east of Blantyre.This village of Chinyama obtained its water from two existing water sources.
One source, about half a mile away from the village, is a stream where people dug a pool to collect water. This is not protected and the pool normally dries up in the summer. It is also a source of contamination because people wash in the same stream, and put their feet in the water when collecting drinking water. Unfortunately, when the rainy season arrives, and this stream collects ground run-off water, the village sees an increase in water-related diseases.
The second source of drinking water is a borehole about 1 1/2 miles away from the village. This borehole supports three other villages.
As a Thank You to Fr. Winiko for his contribution to our parish, St. Irene's parishioners provided his village with additional sources of clean drinking water.
Ms. Pat Barry's Status Report:
On August 21, I traveled
to Malawi to represent the parish at a Mass of Thanksgiving thanksgiving
for the gift of water given to them by the people of St. Irene's and thanksgiving
for the fact that Fr. Winiko was celebrating his twentieth anniversary as
a priest. I had the most unbelievable experience of my entire life! The
people of Chinyama are extraordinary. They have very little, but they
are happy, faith-filled people. They were so welcoming to me and were
so grateful to you. God was definitely present in our midst.
After preparing a
needs assessment. Freshwater Project (the NGO hired by Water for People
to drill the wells) conducted a meeting attended by representatives from
the Ministry of Water Development, the Ministry of Gender and Community
Services, and the Director of Planning to gain government support. This
was followed by a meeting with all village stakeholdersthe chiefs,
church leaders, and political leaders. Starting from the beginning of
the project, the communities of Chinyama and Machininga have enthusiastically
welcomed the program and contributed their work to the success of the
project. It was determined by Freshwater that the villages had an acute
problem of potable water and sanitation and were far behind comparable
Five boreholes (wells)
have been drilled and became operational on August 13. Four boreholes
were sited in Chinyama village near the household populations. The fifth
one was sited in a nearby village called Machininga, which also had a
critical water need. After the wells were drilled, and before they became
operational, the aprons and washing slabs were constructed by people from
the villages. Community based management trainings were conducted for
the water point committees that have been established for each of the
wells. The week I was there, the people were being trained in the repair
and maintenance of the wells. During the past week, meetings have taken
place to sensitize and equip members of the water point committees with
the skills for the construction of 16 latrines. Construction will begin
after the community has identified the best placement of the latrines
throughout the village. Thereafter, the committees will encourage remaining
households to construct the hygienic latrines.
+ Water for People
projects that there will be an 80% reduction in the incidence of water
borne diseases for the community within one year.
+ The distance traveled
by women to fetch water has been reduced to a radius of 500 meters.
+ The goal is to
promote the use of latrines by 80% of the
community within one year.
The Ripple Effect
While we were in Malawi,
we met with the newly elected Member of Parliament. She said that potable
water is the number one problem in the country. She said that our presence
in the communities will enable her to bring attention to the needs in
these forgotten communities. In speaking with the representatives from
Water for People and Freshwater, we learned that they were somewhat skeptical
about the need for water in villages "so close to town" (Chinyama
is about 15 miles from Blantyre). They were amazed that the villages were
so underdeveloped. They have now added this region to their area of concern.
You will never
know what good you have done! The impact has been direct and immediate.
You have save
the lives of many!
Flows - August 2004
We have achieved our
first objective - clean drinking water is now flowing in Fr. Winiko's
home village of Chinyama, Malawi. "First Water" occurred a few
According to the reports
we have, the drilling began on Monday, July 12. Four wells were drilled
in Chinyama Village, and one well in the neighboring Machilinga Village.
The local people brought the materials needed for construction such as
bricks, river sand, stones.
Fr. Winiko left for
Malawi on August 13. Pat Barry left for Malawi on Saturday, August 21,
arriving on Sunday, August 22. She and Fr. Winiko planned on visiting
two schools in the area -- an elementary school and a high school. They
presented the kids with soccer shirts (donated by Kate Burke, which Pat
Barry carried on the flight), soccer balls (for the boys) and netball
outfits for the girls (which they purchased over there because you can't
buy netball uniforms here).
Pat Barry returned
on Tuesday, September 7. She reported:
convey to you how warm and welcoming and thankful the people of the
village and the parish were. The two Masses (one on Saturday in the
village with almost 1000 people in attendance, and the other on Sunday
in the parish church) were the most moving and heartfelt (and full of
dance and music) liturgies that I have ever participated in. God was
present in our midst! And he was having a good time with his people!"
Following the Mass,
they had a great celebration. (Jonathan and Beth Stone donated money to
buy a cow for food.) Pat will provide details of the trip at the Masses
on September 25/26.
The in-country Water
for People representative has projected that because we put in 5 wells
(instead of the 2 originally planned when we began the fund raising),
the clean water concentration is going to mean that within the next 6
months there will be an 80% decline in the number of water borne diseases
among the village people! Thank you for your generosity - you have made
a difference in the lives of these people.
The wells and the
hand pumps for the clean drinking water were installed first. Then, pit
latrines will be dug. Pits will be dug initially for those people who
cannot dig themselves - the elderly, and the widows. Next, the pits will
be dug for the single moms with children. Following these, pits will be
dug for the other families of the community.
As the work continues,
we will provide you with updates.
Additional tax deducible
contributions can still be mailed to the Rectory; checks should be made
payable to "Water For People - Chinyama Village Project."
Thank you for your
support and your generosity.
Check Presented to
Fr. Winiko and Water For People - May 23, 2004
On Sunday, May 23,
2004, Mr. Bill Sullivan, Chair of the New England Water for People Committee,
and Fr. Winiko accepted a "larger than life check" representing
all the contributions made by the people of St. Irene Parish to the Chinyama
Village Project. Water for the People sent a local representative to meet
and thank us. The amount of money raised to date is $33,829.81.
Mr. Sullivan indicated:
St. Irene's was the most remarkable experience I have had since I became
a Water For People volunteer five years ago. The depth of compassion
and generosity for the people of Fr. Winiko's village was as strong
as if every member of the parish had been to Chimyama. I could see the
emotion and great pride when everyone saw how successful their efforts
had been. Parents of young children seemed particularly moved. They
know that parents in Malawi love their children as much as they love
their own, and the loss of a child is the greatest tragedy any parent
can experience. The St. Irene's community has changed the world. I was
honored to have been asked to share in this celebration."
Planning is continuing
for the project. Fr. Winiko stated that priorities are being set for the
work to be done. The wells and the hand pumps for the clean drinking water
will be installed first. Then, pit latrines will be dug. Pits will be
dug initially for those people who cannot dig themselves - the elderly,
and the widows. Next, the pits will be dug for the single moms with children.
Following these, pits will be dug for the other families of the community.
Removing Stagnent Water
will design and build a cement channel near the well so that pools of
stagnant water do not form. The drainage channel will end at a village
vegetable or flower garden. The photo below shows they type of water drainage
channel we want to build.