The country of Mali is full of old wells still in use that long ago would have been deemed unsafe in other parts of the world. Many are holes in the ground that have no marking, rims, or coverings. When the rains come, the filth and waste simply run into the open well with the flowing rainwater on the ground. The water is contaminated, and the edge of the well becomes even more dangerous.
Children are the first to get sick and die from water-related diseases. In fact, dirty water kills nearly 5,000 children each day.
"Collecting enough water for the family is the hardest part of being a woman," says Kaditou. "I must make many trips each day on top of everything else I must do. And because of what I have learned from ADRA, I know that even though water sitting on the ground looks clean, there are things I can't see swimming in it that will make my children sick."
When there is no clean water in the village, it becomes the duty of women and young girls to spend their day searching for and carrying water to their homes. Many times, they are forced to walk great distances, which puts them at risk of physical danger and usually closes the door to an education. And it is for something that so many of us simply take for granted each day. Families must have water to survive.
In northern Mali, where the ground is sand, ADRA has had great success with drip irrigation. I'd like to share with you the work that ADRA has been doing in Gao, bringing food to the Sahara.
Working with 12 gardening groups, comprised mostly of women, ADRA has installed water tanks that hold 4,000 liters (1,056 gallons) and have a motorized pump and drip irrigation lines. The groups are given seeds, fruit tree seedlings, and tools, and taught to create a compost pit for organic fertilizer. In addition, to ensure success, the women receive training on the installation and maintenance of the drip irrigation system, financial management, and gardening.
Saly and Bintu are two of the women from the gardening group living beside the Niger River. "Our families are not fisherman," says Saly. "So we were always hungry. We decided to try growing vegetables, but we did not really know what we were doing, and we used gourds to water our 150-by-300-foot village garden. It was very hard, and we were always exhausted."
"When we began using it, we had to turn the system on for six hours every day the first week—three hours in the morning and three late in the day," says Saly. "It took so much water for the seeds to get a good start. No wonder it was nearly impossible to grow anything using water from gourds! We notice, too, that growing vegetables without chemical fertilizers means that the food stays good longer."
"Now we produce more food, and we sell more," explains Bintu. "We use the money we receive to buy seeds and fuel and assure the maintenance of the motor pump. We also bring vegetables home for our families to eat. We no longer need to buy those vegetables in the market."
"Now, with our new knowledge, we are teaching this skill to our children, even our sons," continues Bintu. "Each day when they don't have class, they join us here to learn. We hope that our village will always know how to use water to grow food and never be hungry again. We are so grateful to ADRA for bringing this light. We are now dreaming of growing even more. We want to be a light that will shine visibly in this area of Gao, God willing. Thank you very much, ADRA, for everything you are doing for us."
When you give to ADRA, you are changing individual lives and improving the lives of families. There is so much to be done, and we can't do it without you. Will you invest with us in children, women, and men throughout the world?