Imagine a typical African village. A village named Kpowé is of that nature, which is in the northern part of Togo. The nearest small town is some 10 km away. The source of water for people in this village is the Binah river, which runs 6 km away from the village. In summer, men dig small holes here and there in the river, and the women folk wait until water appears.
For one basin of potable water, it takes a full day for each of them. So finally, the team led by our confrere Francis Kochuparambil SVD decided to make a bore well in that village. The team reached there at 8 a.m. and the whole village was around the machines, watching the tedious process and waiting for the water. At 80 metres, which is their normal depth for such bore wells, there was no water coming. They got worried and stopped the machines – the faces of the village folks turned grimsome. Then they decided to try a few more metres, and at 84 metres, water gushed forth with such a force the machinist even got frightened and jumped off his machine. The villagers could not believe their eyes. The people started to run into the water which was flowing from the machine-pipes. One could see people literally rolling in the waters, including the elderly persons! The machinist let the water run for half an hour more to let the people continue their celebration. While narrating this story Francis said: « If my life brought a little joy and hope into the life of others and makes them smile once more, it is worth it. »
This story is a typical example of our confreres getting involved in different developmental projects with people in the margins. Francis is working as treasurer for the last 20 years in the diocese of Kara. Marian Schwark SVD, another confrere in Togo, was for 15 long years and until recently, the Executive Secretary of the National Caritas Office. Both of them together with the other confreres have realized hundreds of projects of this kind over the years. Be they in the health and sanitary sphere, construction of laity training and health centres, seminaries, village chapels, mission houses, organizing care of internally displaced people or refugees, creating facilities for AIDS affected persons, providing pharmaceutical products at cheaper and wholesale rates. And in terms of money, these projects have run into millions of Euros. It is possible to say that our Society since 1974 has contributed the most in terms of development of the people in general and also the Church in Togo. Francis said that he began the water projects in 1997; and since then his diocesan project has given water through bore wells in 124 interior villages. Imagine, his team is preparing to provide safe drinking water to people in the margins in yet another village.