My name is Philomina Ogban. Let me tell you my story… the reason Abba’s Living Water is so very important to me. My story begins in an average sized African village named Ukpaja, Edo State, Nigeria. Clean water is the single largest problem with every day life in that region.
Like many other villages across Nigeria and the rest of Africa, Ukpaja had no running water. Thus, during the rainy season, we could collect the rainwater that drained off the rooftops and that we could gather in ditches. There are several problems, however, with water collected this way: first it has high zinc content because of the metal rooftops; second, storing the water for long periods of times results in its contamination. During the dry season, after the stored water was used up, we were forced to walk 5 miles to the nearest stream to get water. We would carry large clay pots, or hollowed out gourds, and bring the water back in them.
Starting at the age of 4, I would wake up in the early hours of the morning and join my friends on our daily journey (on foot) to get water. If the skies were clear, we were able to travel by moonlight during the morning hours before dawn; otherwise we had to wait until dawn. During the dry season, the nearest stream was 5 miles away. The water there was stagnant, dirty, and full of insect larvae and other dangerous organisms. As I remember it, this 10-mile round-trip journey would usually take about two and half hours. My friends and I would struggle to carry the water containers up and down the hills… on our heads! Many children in my village do not have hair on the top of their heads because of these frequent journeys.
It was important to wash at the stream before coming back because, when we returned, we had quickly to leave to arrive at school before eight o’clock. Often there would be no water to drink at school. So, during the recess between classes students would quench their thirst by going into the bush to forage for fruits. As with our daily trips to the stream, these trips into the bush are dangerous due to the poisonous snakes.
One of the great problems with obtaining fresh water is the journey. When I was nine years old I became very sick with fever. But there was no choice but to go and fetch water. I had no strength to make the journey; yet, if I stayed home, the whole family would be without water. My mother was also sick and, while struggling with house chores herself, reluctantly asked me to go with the girls to fetch water. One of my cousins who was visiting volunteered to accompany me. We got to the stream but, on our way back, I was just too weak to climb the hills and my basin of water fell to the ground. I was distraught and began to cry. But my cousin comforted me all the way home and the water she carried saved the day.
Sometimes the journey was made easier and quicker if one could find a bike to ride to the stream. On one hot afternoon I took my dad’s bicycle to the stream to fetch water. On my way back, as I came to the top of a hill, I barely noticed a fast moving lorry coming down the ramp. Just before I could clear off the roadway the lorry narrowly missed me and I fell. By God’s grace, I was okay, but situations like this happen often. Several young adults in my village have lost their lives in similar accidents.
A second problem with obtaining drinking water is the water itself. The stagnant rainwater that is collected, and the water from the stream can both be filled with dangerous reptiles, parasitic worms, spirogyra, mosquito larvae, and many water borne diseases. This is why so many African children die very young—from diseases and other dangers associated with the poor quality of the drinking water.
So why Abba’s Living Water? As the years went by I was married to my husband, Steve. By God’s grace, Steve and I came to the United States to further our education. One day, while I was taking a shower, a strange feeling came upon me. A voice seemed to tell me to look at the drain. I looked. The voice said, “The bathwater that goes, every day, through your drain is 100% better than what the people in your village use for cooking and drinking!” Overcome with emotion, and crying, I got our of the shower. I immediately fell down and said, “God, please help me to do something about the water problem in my village and others like it!”
God has answered that prayer by giving us Abba’s Living Water. Today, in the center of my village, Ukpaja, is a bore hole, a water pump, and several taps that flow all day long with fresh drinking water. Abba’s Living Water is in the process of duplicating the borehole and taps in another Nigerian village, Udapa.
Today, I am happy and thankful to God that He gave me three beautiful children. They do not face these same grave health and safety issues with which I grew up. But there are many African children and adults who still do. If God leads you, won’t you please join us in our mission to, in Jesus’ name, provide fresh drinking water to remote African villages?