That one little word in the inscription on a monstrous water tank struck me deeply.
It’s not what I expected to see when I visited a widow’s home in rural Uganda and learned about how this water tank worked.
The inscription includes a date and gives credit to a local church “and friends.” It is a proclamation visible to everyone who uses this tank: this woman, widowed, still caring for many, was given this life-changing gift by a local church and friends. That’s what the church does, and that’s what friends do: they love, they give, they help.
To my best understanding, this widow’s name is France. While I’m not sure how old she is, more than likely she’s younger than she seems. It’s something I’ve often found to be true in Africa, where poverty and lack of basic services severely add to the challenges of life.
I remember the way her hair was braided. And I remember the worn, earth-tone clothes she wore when we were first introduced. And I remember that while I was discussing this massive water tank installed just steps away from her front door, she went and changed into a bright red traditional Ugandan dress. The dress clearly wasn’t new or fresh-looking, but I think this woman had gone inside to put on something to look her best. And when I think about that gesture, it still makes me smile.
I didn’t ask her, but maybe it had something to do with dignity. Maybe “poor” and “impoverished” are words that could be used to describe her, but that does not mean she’s helpless. She’s been through Bright Hope’s agricultural training and has a water tank next to her home that is changing not only her and her family’s lives, but the lives of others in the community as well.
Tanks like these are being put in the types of communities where you hear about children missing school because they spend so much time fetching water.
In the types of communities where you hear about terrible sickness coming from water-borne illnesses.
And in the types of communities where the people have friends who care. In this case, France’s friend is Bright Hope.
That little word is the only unassuming, vague credit Bright Hope is taking for this and other tanks that are changing the lives of hundreds of people in rural Ugandan communities.
How beautiful is that? It’s not about us, it’s about them. That’s what it means to be a true friend.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:17 – 18