Everything By John Fleming
Photos by Daniel Phillips
The shimmering spray reaches into the sky like a west-Texas oil gusher, finds its apex, and drifts across the parched ground. At the height of a boiling hot day, in the glare of a midday sun, an outbreak of giddiness overtakes the assembly of women and young children. Now they have clean water. The journey to this day has been long and hard; the lives of maybe 500 people in this village and the surrounding countryside are forever changed: no more long treks to get water to bathe in, to wash clothes in, to cook with and to drink.
Above: A well drilling crew punches a hole some 150 feet down at a spot called Kidu-Makaraka, Sudan. Left: A splash of clean well water pours over the bottle, which contains the murky water villagers would walk for miles to obtain.
A few miles down a dusty dirt road from this collection of huts, is a footpath leading to a low spot in a patch of verdant underbrush, surrounded by a parched landscape. Here, in the quiet of the shade, is a puddle of water the size of a long-bed pickup, its surface cool and still, the color of Milk of Magnesia. “This is the only water we have for miles around here,” said Jennifer Knight, a local schoolteacher. “When the dry season arrives, even this will be gone and people will have to walk even farther to fetch water.” Kassazo-Kadu’s lack of water is typical of not only this part of southern Sudan, but also for a great many of the Earth’s people. Indeed, the United Nations Children’s Fund estimates that one in six people worldwide, or some 1.1 billion, lack access to safe drinking water, while the World Health Organization says nearly 4,000 children die each day from waterborne diseases. These are the kinds of statistics that have led many working in the international aid community to the conclusion that effective development work can begin only after people acquire clean water. Evidence of an effort to bring water to those who need it, is a short ride away in a late-model Toyota pickup or a half-day’s walk under a boiling sun. Just to the east of the ancient slave-trading post of Lui, is a well-drilling crew punching a hole some 150 feet down at a spot called Kidu-Makaraka. On this day, people come out of a cluster of huts and the surrounding bush in anticipation of what might be. The workers from the Swedish-based International Aid Services (IAS), have told them that if water is to come to this place, it will be this day. Janty Madena, lingers in the shadow of a banana tree with her three small children watching the workers struggling with the big drilling machine. For her, the promise
Summer 2010 Longleaf Style 19
The Summer 2010 issue of Longleaf