UMCOR: Blessing of Water in Pakistan
Younis Masih, 65, is the only breadwinner of his family of six. He and his family live in Mehbood Town, Faisalabad District, Pakistan, where most people make a poor living working at the brick kilns. Most lack access to safe drinking water, toilets, and adequate sanitation facilities.
For most of his life, Masih had no home. Then he and his family found a place to live in the local graveyard, where no one bothered them nor asked them to leave. But the problem was lack of water.
Despite his advanced age and failing health, Masih had to fetch water from a community tap more than half a mile from his house. He would go there two or three times daily to collect water in small plastic cans or buckets to bring home to his family.
But it was getting harder for Masih to manage the water needs of his family. As these seemed to increase, availability decreased due to the deterioration of surface and underground water resources.
“I am a poor laborer. I cannot spend much time fetching water from here and there,” Masih told volunteers of Gospel Life International Ministries (GLIM), who interviewed him when they came to his community to identify needs of vulnerable families.
‘Water is scarce in our area,” he said. “Sometimes I even have to beg for a few liters, particularly in summer. It takes a lot of time. I am unable to manage the situation because I have to go early to work and come home late at night. If I spend my time searching for water, I miss my daily-wage work.”
Blessing of a family hand pump
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has been partnering with GLIM to make clean water more accessible to vulnerable people, especially women and children, in Faisalabad District.
In addition, the GLIM project is promoting the construction of household latrines and providing hygiene education. It also is improving the performance and operation of the water supply by promoting community responsibility for the management and maintenance of systems.
Masih’s family is among those who have had a new hand pump installed in their home thanks to the GLIM project. Masih’s house is small, with brick walls and a mud floor, but he can now enjoy his free hours there without having to worry about fetching water.
“I am so happy now,” he said. “I can work for more hours and pay my debts quickly. I am also relieved of my fears for my grown-up daughters, who sometimes had to go in the night to the tap to get water.”
The hand pump in Masih’s house has become a blessing for others in the neighborhood too. They can get water from it anytime. Masih welcomes everyone with a smile.
“I have been blessed by God. The well under my house has water that is sweet and drinkable. How could I keep this blessing from other people?” he asked. “I know the pain of having no water. It is my duty to help others and reduce their sufferings.”
When Masih received the hand pump, he also received training in how to maintain it and care for the well. He is willing to take charge, and he regularly inspects everything. Masih has learned some new skills, and he is happy, he said, that his life has changed after a very long period of hardship.
Photo credit: UMCOR