Early Saturday morning we headed down to the new pump house. The pump had arrived and getting the pump installed seemed to happen so quickly. We were all very focused on seeing WATER! At around 11:00 am, we had all the connections set up and fired the motor for the very first time. Turning that crack was so exciting! We had the main line disconnected so we could see the water start to flow. As the pump started to run, we watched the pipes shake and
shudder and then the water appeared just bursting out of the open end of the connectors. Lots of cheering and clapping! Wow! It was really there. The village headman was just beaming and clapping his hands together. It had taken so long he wasn’t totally sure it would really happen.
After connecting the main lines again, we headed to the village meeting space where a huge number of people had gathered for a meeting with a local councilor. When we announced the water had started to flow, people just looked
at us and me as if I had lost my mind. A few ladies were talking about buying water from a local farmer who was coming around that day with his water truck. I asked them not to as they now had water. They shook their heads.
I asked them to follow me as I took them to the water tanks. As they watched, I climbed the towers and started banging the sides. As they heard a ‘thud’ instead of the ‘echo’ they had become used to from empty tanks, all I heard was a shout
of “There’s Water!”
People went off to get buckets and containers and started lining up at all the water points in the village. In just over 40 minutes, the tanks were completely filled and we opened the main valves to the feeder lines. A group of children
gathered and started dancing around and playing. We then walked the community and visited each water point to ensure we had no problems. People were laughing and smiling as they filled their containers and carried them home. I
splashed a few children with the water. At first they were shocked and then they started to laugh and dance around. This was a REALLY GOOD day. We met the townspeople the following day and discussed how they
would maintain and get diesel for the pump. We took up a collection and got enough money to run it for the next six weeks at least. The Councilor who was there on an election campaign asked me if I was there to get votes. I smiled and said no; I was just there to help completing a promise I had made six months earlier. She asked me how she could get the townspeople to vote for her. I responded by saying that the best way was to stop talking and to actually do something. She asked if I would help her if she did something for the town. I agreed that I would as long as what she did actually happened and was not just words.
She left, undertaking to get the region to supply the diesel for the pump going forward. A week later, she called me to say that she had a firm commitment in writing that the region would provide the diesel and would I tell the headman she had done it.
I agreed and went to talk to the headman. He smiled and laughed saying, “You have taught our Councilor something new. This is the first time she has delivered something to us in 13 years!” Our next steps in Bergnek take place in September and October. This is when we will run the first Iziko Labahlali program to start work on opportunities in the