Reaching More People in Benin & TanzaniaOthers, COVID-19 , Poverty
Contributed by: GAiN
When the world shut down in March 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, Global Aid Network (GAiN) was also forced to pause the Water for Life Initiative (WFLI) drilling operations in Benin, Togo and Tanzania. The teams continued to provide hand washing stations and hygiene and sanitation training to rural villages in the months that followed. While there was also a pause in church mobilization and multiplication activity, GAiN focused on supporting local pastors with food aid packages to help get them through while churches were closed or attendance was low.
Since drilling operations were finally able to restart at the end of August 2020 and GAiN has been able to provide more than 153 new productive wells.
“We bless the Lord and [want to say] a sincere thank you for this [well],” expressed Dieudonné, village chief and farmer of Gbandan Centre, Benin, shared with GAiN in March 2021. “[Before we received our well in February 2017], our suffering was enormous. Today, we have water at all times. The quality of water surpasses the surrounding waters. Hygiene and sanitation training has helped us a lot. Today, COVID-19 has [encouraged] everyone to wash their hands, something that GAiN has taught us long before. The population knows that they must wash their hands regularly.”
Partnership with local churches is key and has resulted in the ability to plant another 39 churches. Following each country’s health and safety guidelines, the JESUS Film Church Planting Strategy has stuck to smaller showings of the JESUS film and incorporated more door-to-door evangelism. Despite the restrictions, a total of 21,696 people attended a JESUS film showing and 3,510 made decisions to follow Jesus between August 2020 and June 2021. An unexpected upside to the restriction of size gatherings, our team reports, is that people feel more comfortable coming forward to accept Christ when they are in smaller groups.
GAiN also received a donation of two new drilling rigs; one for Tanzania that started operations in September 2020 and one for Benin in April 2021. These rigs are each expected to help provide access to clean water to approximately 70,000 people per year! The rig’s higher drilling capabilities will make it possible to drill deeper wells (up to 200 metres) in places where it was not possible before.
Following the restart of normal operations, WFLI also started a few new projects. One in particular has GAiN Canada and GAiN Switzerland in partnership on a water project in the Maasailand area of Tanzania. This is a new region in the north that GAiN has not worked in before.
“This partnership between GAiN Switzerland and GAiN Canada is significant because of the integration of two international GAiN offices (in Switzerland and Canada) who are working together with GAiN Tanzania to reach the Maasai people of northern Tanzania,” Steve J. Thompson, Director for WFLI, explains. “Surface water is very scarce in the Maasailand region, and we’ve needed to go deep into the ground (up to 180 m) to find safe water. Without the partnership of GAiN Switzerland, GAiN Canada, GAiN Tanzania and Swiss donors, this work would not be possible.”
GAiN continues to work toward building a world where human flourishing is restored and water poverty is eradicated through the power of the gospel. With the addition of these new projects, more people are being reached and are experiencing whole life transformation through safe water and the Living Water.