Kevin Herr, Director of Church Partnerships, shares about his time visiting several safe water projects in Indonesia alongside Water Mission church partners.
Our team of church leaders from the U.S. had finally reached the top of the hill housing the rural community of Huta Ginjang, located in North Sumatra, Indonesia. We had started our trek from the very bottom of the hill where the village’s only water source was located. For generations, this hike had been a daily reality for the community. “Moliarty,” exclaimed 78-year-old resident Ms. Siregar upon our arrival, thanking us in the local Batak language as she shook our hands.
Out of breath but smiling, we listened to Ms. Siregar animatedly share how the water project had impacted her life. As an elderly woman suffering from arthritis, the long trek up and down the steep hill to collect unsafe water had been an especially difficult challenge.
One year ago, Water Mission Indonesia staff visited Huta Ginjang and started to formulate a plan to provide safe water.
That initial assessment trip eventually led to an impressive safe water project. Today, a solar-powered system pumps water from the spring at the bottom of the hill up to the highest point in the community. The water is treated, stored in tanks, and distributed through a network of pipes leading to 20 access points. From a technical perspective, the project is an outstanding achievement, but the community development component is actually just as remarkable.
“The key is transformation,” shared Water Mission Indonesia Country Director Jan Daniel. “We need to change worldview, the mindset, how people view themselves and their relation to the world around them.”
As Christians, we seek to imitate Christ by both demonstrating and proclaiming the Good News. By forming deep, trusting relationships with local leaders and churches, we have the opportunity to see transformation take place. While working in one community, for example, Water Mission staff would gather with the local church in the evenings to conduct Bible studies and proclaim God’s love illuminated by candles and flashlight. Our staff also walk alongside communities as water projects are being implemented, helping to develop leadership capacity built on a foundation of transparency and honesty.
One of the most memorable parts of our team’s visit was the safe water project commissioning celebration in the remote community of Lae Hundulan. Accessible only by motorcycle, this village has worked diligently to create a brighter future for the next generation through safe water. The celebration was held under a large tent set up in the courtyard of the elementary school. Several hundred people gathered as the schoolchildren performed dances and local government leaders gave impassioned speeches. The sense of ownership and pride was palpable.
Lae Hundulan, which used to rely only on contaminated river water, now has a solar-powered system that distributes safe water to eight access points, each located near common areas including a school and health clinic. Following the commissioning, a mother of five named Sela proudly displayed the water tap positioned near her home. She is no longer forced to walk to the river four times every day for water that would make her family sick.
Nothing is more inspiring than the opportunity to see life change take place both physically and spiritually through the long, relational process of implementing a safe water project. Our Indonesian staff, full of hope for the future of each and every community they serve, live out Hebrews 10:24-25 on a daily basis: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Learn more about opportunities for your church or community to partner with Water Mission.