In Tanzania, safe drinking water is scarce. Residents who do not live near one of the country’s three major lakes -- Victoria, Tanganyika or Malawi -- must rely on water that is often contaminated with toxic waste. This situation disproportionately affects the more than 18 million people who live below the poverty line. Today, thanks to the generous support of our Clean Water Initiative, thousands of impoverished youth and adults in the city of Dar es Salaam now have access to a local source of fresh water.
Established a little more than a year ago in response to Dar es Salaam’s growing problem of homelessness, the Salesian-run Bunju Children’s Project in Kinyerezi offers girls and boys recreational opportunities, psychosocial support and rehabilitative assistance. These services are offered to orphaned and homeless at-risk youth, ages 8 to 18, who are likely to otherwise drop out of school and fall through society’s cracks.
“Although they may not be as numerous or as visible as in other capital cities, there are still more than 435,000 street children in Dar es Salaam,” explains project director Father Babu Augustine. “We wanted to model a program after the successful Bosco Boys in Kenya, in order to help these girls and boys build better lives.”
On Sept. 18, 2016, Fr. Babu -- along with other Salesian officials -- unveiled the first phase of the project which includes a playground, multipurpose hall and staff quarters. Long-term plans for the 11-acre plot include a dormitory that will permanently house 150 homeless youth, a primary school, a health clinic and a chapel, along with other improvements. Currently, 3,000 homeless youth stream onto the playground and into the multipurpose hall every day.
In the beginning, “the water we had was not drinkable,” explains Fr. Babu. “We could use it for construction, but not for anything else.” Understanding the critical importance of potable water to the children’s health, he appealed to the Salesian Missions Clean Water Initiative for assistance.
“This project aligns perfectly with our vision to ensure that every child, and every adult, has an accessible and reliable source of clean water,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, which provided funding for the project through its Clean Water Initiative.
Thanks to generous donors, Fr. Babu and his staff were able to install a bore hole, reservoir tank, piping, submersible pump and its required electrical power supply. This new infrastructure is sufficient to supply all current and future structures with clean running water. School staff and children use it for drinking, bathing and sanitation. It will also provide irrigation for a small-scale agricultural plot the center is planning -- which will teach students valuable skills while supplying food for the community.
Local residents are also welcome to use water from the well. “We are interested in elevating the potential of the entire community,” says Fr. Babu. “When people no longer have to worry about where they will find water, or if they will get ill when they do, they are freed up to pursue other things: school, employment and being present for their families.”
Joseph Luwi, who lives near the center, agrees. “I don’t have to walk for hours every day looking for water. I am grateful to the Salesians for this.”
All of this was made possible thanks to the generosity of our many friends.
Our mission brings fresh, clean water –- and with it, healthier and more productive lives -- to those who need it most. What’s your mission?