The joy that is depicted in this photo was 4 years in the making. Maybe that’s why I love this picture, because it tells a story of hope, disappointment, perseverance, pain and ultimately joy. The purest joy that wells up uncontrollably from deep within us perhaps indicates how hard it was to come by.
Kudzagbakope is a small village sitting on a long dusty dirt road in rural Ghana. It was on the list of 5 villages in 2007 to receive a borehole, as wells are called in Ghana, that would provide clean water through a partnership with Rotary Club branches in Chittenango, New York and Ho, Ghana. The money was raised locally and matched by Rotary International. At the time that seemed like the hardest part. Four of the wells were successful, hitting clear, clean water. But in Kudzagbakope the well came up dry. And the money had run out for any further drilling.
10 months later the people in our church gave money to our Advent Conspiracy Fund. They chose to spend less on gifts at Christmas in order to give more so others could have the gift of clean water. Kudzagbakope was on the top of the list of 4 villages to receive a borehole. But again, the well came up dry. The remaining 3 boreholes were successful in providing clean water. Once again, the people of Kudzabgakope would not have clean water.
The question began to be discussed on our side of the partnership, how many times will we continue to drill before we say enough is enough? Will we continue to spend precious dollars in an area that does not seem conducive or look elsewhere near other villages with more promise? We decided to give it one more attempt. The local Ghanian drilling company ran several more advanced tests in a location further from the village center. They were now donating a portion of their labor costs to help in this effort to bring clean water to Kudzagbakope.
In the early part of 2010 the borehole drilling was successful. Clean water had been found. But now there was a new problem. The money reserved for the pump had been used for another purpose. This brought about a delay that involved many difficult conversations with the leadership, accountability practices and restitution by all those involved with the handling of the money. This would delay the delivery of the water until the funds were replenished. The water was found, but not accessible until the pump could be installed. Another period of waiting for the people of Kudzagbakope.
January of 2011, just 5 days before this picture was taken, the pump was installed and water began to flow. Waiting 48 months from the initial realization that water was coming until it was actually available. As a leader of the village this must have been a hard thing to lead the people through. I can not imagine the thoughts, conversations, perhaps arguments and disappointment this chief has endured with this people over the past 4 years. His smile is a picture of the joy that comes when you have truly experienced the realization of a precious gift.
There was dancing, singing, celebrating by the entire village. The chief wore his finest Kente cloth robe and obviously his fanciest head-piece, but what he wore that dazzled us all that day, was his smile.
Other pictures from that day: