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of water is not only good news for the village; it also means a promise of a better life for her. In the rainy season, she explains, she goes to a stream a mile or so away to get water. That is a disruption to the daily routine, she says, but nothing like what happens when the rains stop. “In the dry season,” she said, “we have to go about five miles to get water. Even then we have to boil it. It is very dirty.” She motions to her kids clustered around her, as well as the others who have wandered up, and explains that in the dry season getting them bathed and keeping them clean and keeping them healthy is a major undertaking. Yes, she says, having a well right here, one that runs clear with clean water, would vastly improve life for the people in this corner of Sudan. The work at Kidu-Makaraka was going well, said the IAS foreman on the job, Yoasa Kwaje, a wiry man full of energy and an intimate knowledge of Sudan’s sub-surface. He has done this many times before, so is in the position to predict that something interesting will happen soon. “Sometimes we spend four or five days putting a well in, it all depends on the soil formation,” he says, pulling out a tattered book logging detailed descriptions of every few feet of dirt lifted from the hole before him. “We should be there pretty soon with this one,” he said. And indeed he turns out to be right. Half an hour later, the IAS crew “breaks water.” Workers dance in the shower of bright water and shouts

of joy come from the children gathered around. The celebration extends beyond this spot to about halfway between here and Kassazo-Kadu. Here, not far from a rickety school building, a shiny new India Mark II pump, with a long handle even kids can make cooperate, is about to be put to work. A bamboo fence protects freshly laid concrete surrounding the new pump from a platoon of curious children eager to work the long handle, eager to see the life-changing liquid rise to the top. A man named Charles Banya, the school’s administrator, explains the hardships for having to walk several miles every day to get water. “There is a lot of suffering, especially for our children,” he said. “At least now, things might get better.” He is nearly drowned out by the screams of laughter broken only by children’s song that accompanies a group of visitors who have stopped by to have a look at the new, not quite-ready-to-pump, well. Small hands reach out and demand to be shaken, smiles cascade across every face. The joy is nothing less than electrifying. This is something more than a celebration; it is an announcement of the passing of one way of life and the embracing of another. Water changes everything. John Fleming is the Editor-at-Large of The Anniston Star. He has extensive reporting experience in Africa

Workers dance in the shower of bright, clean water at Kidu-Makaraka, Sudan. Before this new well, the women and children in the village would have to walk for miles to get water. 20 Longleaf Style Summer 2010

Longlead Summer 2010  
Longlead Summer 2010  

The Summer 2010 issue of Longleaf