Families in Chilowosi village have never had clean water. From the first settlers in 1949 to the 400 people that now live there, they have been forced to rely on a stream – unpredictable water levels and high risk of disease. Then, trained by Eagles, two determined women from a local church invested days of their own time and money that they could not spare to confront corrupt government officials and bring water to their entire village.
Ezelina Bikausi had been thrilled to hear in a local development planning meeting with the government that her village of Chilowosi had been chosen for a borehole! It seemed like a dream come true – after 70 years of battling diseases and water shortages, they would finally be able to provide for their families! She eagerly awaited the promised borehole… and waited… and still waited.
One year on, patience evaporated and Ezelina decided to act. She remembered from Eagles’ training that God calls His people to seek justice for their communities, that it is a form of worship. So she and a friend went to ask the village chief why there had been the delay. He told them to wait, but Ezelina answered: “We can’t wait any more! A year has passed – something must be wrong.”
So the women went to the group village headman, responsible for several villages including their own, and received the same response. Their next attempt was the Traditional Authority who claimed to be unable to help and told them to consult the District Commissioner (DC), head of the local government. The DC referred them to the water board, who gave them the contact of a specific official. All the while, these two women had been using their scarce money for transport and losing time that they could have spent in their many other tasks. Their ordeal continued. The official ignored their calls for days, claiming to be too busy. Running out of options, the women kept talking to whoever they could, desperate to find answers.
Their persistence paid off. The official, worried by the rumours going around about him blocking Chilowosi village from having a borehole, finally asked to meet the women. The confronted him directly, asking why the government money set aside for a borehole in their village had not resulted in anything and explaining their desperate need simply and plainly. At first, he was evasive, but the women assured him that they would keep pushing until they uncovered the truth. They told him, “We are like mourners. You can’t stop us crying. If you gave us our water in the first place, things would not have gone down this way.” Reluctantly, the official revealed that, in a corrupt deal, the Traditional Authority had diverted the borehole to another community. Terrified of the story spreading, the official promised that the next time they received funding for boreholes, Chilowosi village would be first.
Thanks to two women’s courage, tenacity and refusal to remain silent about injustice, their entire village have fresh, clean water! Ezelina’s joy is unbounded. She is so grateful to the training that gave her the confidence to act: “As a facilitator, there are a number of ways of solving a problem. Some problems have to be solved by us doing something. Others need to be solved by advocacy. And this one needed that path.”