School/Major: Oklahoma Christian University/Electrical Engineering
City of Origin: Karongi, Rwanda.
I was born and raised in the hilly western part of Rwanda. Even if many people don’t have water in their homes, there were water kiosks within convenient distances. Sometimes, the water kiosks didn’t provide enough water for the city and we had to walk long distances. I learned to carry a 40 pounds jerry can of water when I was about ten years old. The lack of clean water got more serious when I got in high school. During dry seasons, the school taps could not supply water we needed to shower or wash clothes. During rainy seasons, the school collected rain water and stored in a big container; that was our water source in dry seasons. We used to make long lines in front of the container to get a bucket of water for our laundry and bathing needs. Although the problem seemed very tough, we were grateful of the little we had because other students from neighboring schools used to get water from a river.
In 2008, I was sitting with my friends in the Lawson Commons at Oklahoma Christian University talking about Rwanda. We were talking about the sad reality about Africa as seen in the western media. Many of our fellow Rwandans were in a serious need of clean water and we decided to help them. That’s how Rwandans4water was started and I have been part of it since then. When we started the organization, we did not have any money or other physical means. All we had was our determination, ability and willingness to learn and the belief in the goodness of God and friends.
My first days with Rwandans4water were rough. I struggled to keep up with engineering classes and the hard and unusual tasks I had to do for the organization. I had a real image of a Rwandan kid getting drinking water from a very dirty pond I had seen on TV and an imaginary image of the same kid getting clean water from a well we would be able to build if I kept my promises to the organization. I could not give up. The reward was too precious to miss. My sleepless nights, long and cold days of training, moments of frustration and other hardships paid off when we successfully completed our first well in Kiramuruzi, Rwanda. I was externally covered in sweat and mud but my heart was full with joy. The image of the kid drinking dirty water began to fade away. I replaced it with the images of the people getting clean water with smiles from our well. My friends and I had begun to reverse the sad reality. I know there are still other people who don’t have access to clean water. I will not lose hope and I will keep fighting since I believe there is a solution. We have a dream and I thank friends, family and supporters who never stop to help us realize our dream.
School/Major: Oklahoma Christian University, Computer Engineering
Hometown: Kicukiro, Rwanda.
I grew up in Kigali-Rwanda in Kicukiro district; Kicukiro district was known for having a lot of shortage on water, but the neighborhood I lived in had many industries and the problem of water did not affect us much. The first time I experienced a serious lack of water was when I was in my high school first year at FAWE girls’ school. It was during the dry season and a truck had to deliver water each day at school because we did not have any other source of water. To distribute water among the students, the school lined all the student and each four students would receive an eighteen bucket full of water to share for two days. This is when I really felt the pain of not having enough water to satisfy even the simplest need, but there was nothing I could do about it. I did not encounter another serious problem of water after I left the school because the places I lived in after then had different areas where you could get clean water. After then the problem of water did not get too much of my attention till I went to Oklahoma Christian University.
When I was a freshman I heard of Rwandan for water organization from my fellow Sophomore Rwandan students. They seemed to know more about the seriousness of water crisis than me, so I decided to contribute in helping Rwandans in need of water. That time I was not deeply aware of the seriousness of the lack of water so I did not get involved much in R4W till summer 2011 when I went back home. We were the second group to go back home since R4W was founded in 2008, and we were asked to finish what others have started: drilling more wells for people to get clean water. I got motivated to be part of Rwandans4water after I went on the field. It was really sad when I saw my fellow Rwandans drinking and using water they get from holes dug in the ground; this dirty water from the hole is used for drinking, cooking, washing clothes and providing water for the pasture. When I saw children fetching that dirty water I could not believe they would drink it or use it to prepare food because it was very dirty. After visiting the neighborhood and hearing about diseases Rwandan people who live in the villages get from unclean water I decided to do my best to help them to get and live better life.
I believe that the work that Rwwandans4water is doing will change people’s lives, and I feel motivated to help because every single person’s help counts a lot in drilling more wells in addition of the ones that already helping and saving families down there in Rwandan villages.
Aubin Mukama Ishimwe
Electrical Engineering Major, R4W Technology Department
Growing up in the rural village of the south province, I have encountered the clean water crisis all along my young age. This area is among the regions which are more affected by the crisis compared to the other parts of the country. That is, there are rivers, and water sources in the mountains where people can fetch water, but no means to get clean water from the sources. We had one well used by the whole village of about one hundred homes and when the well was dry, we had to fetch the water from another well that was two miles away. These kinds of wells are built near rivers and swamps and the water is directly consumed without any water cleaning process.
When I was 12 years old, I remember being called a lazy boy because I could not carry a forty five pound water container from the river. However, my mom would not let me do that. Most of the children of that age are forced to carry the same container so that they don’t have to go back and forth to get enough water for home use. People get dirty water from the rivers and rain for consumption and they drink the same water used by their cattle. I have seen people suffering from preventable diseases caused by dirty water and I have been one of them. This is a part of a huge story of mine.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity “(Proverbs 17:17). Moreover, my life is not my own and I feel that this is the only way my life will make sense if I use it to bless someone’s life. So, I have to let God use my life for his Glory and use his blessings to bless others.