July, 2015 – On a Saturday I boarded a bright orange Kin Avia 17-seat plane from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), for a two-hour flight to Boma, a port town on the Congo River about 100 km from the Atlantic Ocean. Explorer Henry Morton Stanley began his cross Africa trek via the Congo River in Boma. I was later informed that the hollow of a massive Baobab tree was where Stanley slept his first night in Africa. I walked past this tree every day.
The DRC is a massive country with nearly 80 million people. The Congo River spans thousands of miles and links millions of people from east to west. I am currently reading a book on Congolese history, which is both an informative and depressing read. It’s a place of great natural resources and potential, but unfortunately greed has consistently led to tragedy after tragedy. Perpetually, the DRC is on the lowest rung of the human development index. Wars and warlords, HIV, and exploitation are all ongoing challenges.
Several years ago I thought I’d explore the potential of introducing a BioSand Water Filter (BSF) project to this huge ‘mud puddle’; perhaps a Samaritan’s Purse Canada water project and the BSF could make some small difference? After more exploration I connected with the Communauté Evangelique de l’Alliance au Congo (CEAC)—the Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in Congo. The CEAC has a great testimony in the DRC and churches are actively serving and sharing the love of Jesus. This is so evident in Boma, where the headquarters are present, and I don’t believe I could have found a greater partner in the DRC. After a year of planning, this trip represented the launch of our partnership.
After a busy time of team training, site assessments, media source selection, media processing, roughing out the first Samaritan Filter for addressing school water issues in Africa (and much more), we were able to install our first BSF in the DRC. This ‘Adam’ filter is new for us. It’s plastic! We’re trying new things and conducting a project fully using plastic filters (instead of concrete) which we are bringing in from the United States. Alongside this, we plan to work in six to eight schools to install the Samaritan Filter and new latrines so kids can have a healthier school experience.
Alas, my time went by too quickly. It was time to board the orange airplane again. I was so encouraged because the leaders of the denomination formally commissioned the project just before I left. In faith, I believe our partnership is off to a good start. I boarded the orange plane feeling quite happy inside.
Save the life of a child or adult in a developing country by providing safe water along with health and hygiene education that will help protect them from deadly, but preventable, diseases. Simple and effective water filters, community wells and water storage solutions, and sanitation facilities can all drastically improve lives and open doors to share the eternal hope of Jesus Christ.