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He is known as Akiiki, a name that means friend in Ugandan.
“They’re so friendly, loving, so happy, joyful. I can’t think of all the adjectives,” said Jim Schmidt of Richmond. “We’re family.”
Schmidt has become quite acquainted with Uganda the past four years, primarily with its communities of Bulindi and Masindi in the west central part of the country. He and wife Jeanne accepted an invitation from Father George, a former pastor a Richmond’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, four years ago to see his home country. The following year, the Schmidts met Father Anthony Bingi, pastor of the 10,000-member St. John the Baptist Church in Bulindi. Their encounter brought a “joint idea,” Schmidt said – to bring clean water to the impoverished village of Bulindi.
“They collect rainwater or get water from a protected spring or collect surface water,” Schmidt said. “The spring is at the bottom of a steep hill you have to climb. Girls and women retrieve most the water; it’s quite strenuous, sometimes making two or more trips.”
The stream is the only continuous source of water. Residents normally carry plastic jugs, equivalent to 10-gallon containers, making it difficult to navigate the steep terrain.
Rainwater is plentiful during the rainy seasons, but during the dry period, like now, it is not a reliable source. Also, buildings aren’t equipped with gutters to harvest the rainwater.
Easier locations for water, an area swamp and river, are contaminated with both human and animal waste.
“We asked, ‘What could we do to make it more accessible?’” Schmidt said.
Their plan is a borehole well, one that’ll eventually have a 30,000-to-40,000-liter tank capacity. Another phase is tapping into power lines to run a well pump and bring electricity to Bulindi’s school that serves 300 to 400 children; it currently has no electricity. The final step is distribution of water.