Water Is Happiness

  • 19 January 2011

Article Highlights

  • To date, the Church has helped 7 million people in more than 5,000 communities obtain access to clean water.
  • Information about how to join the effort to bring clean water to people around the world can be found at LDScharities.org.
  • The Church will unveil a new version of its welfare website soon.

“We see [the people who build the wells] as a savior because they are saving many lives.”

In Sierra Leone, thousands of people are returning to their villages following a long and devastating war.

Most people live simply. The sight of women balancing buckets of life-sustaining water on their heads as they traverse the long miles to and from a water source—be it lake, river, or stream—is common here.

But Latter-day Saint Charities has cut that trip significantly for many. The organization is building wells and other clean-water sources, placing pure, cool water closer to home.

“Clean water means happiness,” Sierra Leone native Margaret Nana said. “We see [the people who build the wells] as a savior because they are saving many lives.”

Nearly a billion people on Earth lack access to clean water, a scenario true for many of Sierra Leone’s population of 7 million. Those without clean water often suffer from water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, and typhoid.

Since 2002, the Church has helped 7 million people in more than 5,000 communities obtain access to clean water sources.

In Sierra Leone, community members get involved in the well-building projects, using shovels, ropes, and buckets to dig through hard, dry earth and mud to create the wells. This helps build the capacity of those being helped to help themselves. It also impresses upon them the importance of maintaining the work they do.

Clean Water Initiative manager Matthew Heaps works in communities all over the world to provide maintainable sources of water to people. For him, the projects aren’t just about physical sustenance. They also have a spiritual parallel.

He compares the water the Church supplies to the Living Water, Jesus Christ.

“In all our water projects we strive to build the capacity of those we are helping. We do this by involving them in the work and helping them discover answers to their own problems. I think our Savior works with us in a similar way,” he said. “When I was in Africa last year, a colleague drew my attention to a metal plaque attached to the back of a motorbike, which for me had a dual meaning. It simply said, ‘Water is life.’”

Mustapha Turay, another Sierra Leone resident, agrees. “I would say a big thank you to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” he said, “for blessing our lives, for coming to our aid at the most needed time, for saving lives, for saving children who would have died, and for creating jobs for our brothers and sisters who are employed in these water projects.”

For more information or to give to this effort, visit LDScharities.org.