A reverend, tribal chief, and politician walk into a water building together…
It sounds like the set up for a punch line. In actuality, it is the prelude to a beautiful story of collaboration.
Idlewild Presbyterian Church, Memphis, Tenn., collaborated with the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG), tribal leaders, and the village council to install a water purification system in the Kwahu Praso. Chalmers and Steve Valentine represented Idlewild for the installation. Steve said, "In a small village like Kwahu Praso, you don’t get anything done unless the chief, the council and the church are all on board." Fortunately, Kwahu Praso’s church, tribe, and community leaders enjoyed close ties and regular collaboration. They also were united around the need for clean water.
Dehydration was a known problem in the village. It was the #1 medical condition treated by the local health clinic. It was also the cause of death for many children in the community. But, they knew it didn't have to be. In 2017, members of the PCG had been trained by Living Waters for the World (LWW) as Clean Water U instructors. Kwahu Praso would be their first opportunity to put that learning into practice.
With Ghanaian partners taking the lead on the project, Steve and Chalmers offered support as needed. The education team led the clinic staff through the health education curriculum. Chalmers, impressed by their effectiveness, noted some of their assets, “They are already trained teachers, and they have also witnessed personally how the use of pure water has improved their lives and their family’s lives.”
Steve supported the team that was training system administrators and operators. He observed that they "gave more in-depth understanding and comprehensive education” to the Kwahu Praso team. He emphasized, “They were very invested in the clinic’s success.”
Their investment would benefit thousands of people served by the clinic. In addition to treating dehydration, the clinic also had special facilities for maternal/fetal care. Over eighty newborns and mothers were being treated there every month. Many arrived immediately following deliveries overseen by midwives in the surrounding communities. The clean water that is essential for caring for new life would be provided by their Living Waters for the World system.
The water system also would provide for the local school children. Steve recalled, “It became obvious that the water treatment system would be far less effective for the school age children if the children did not have personal drinking cups for use at school.” He continued, “The kids were sharing two cups per classroom (40-50 children per) and dipping the cups into a bucket full of untreated water. We decided on the trip that Idlewild was going to pay for each child to have a personal cup and each classroom to have its own 20L bottle with a hand pump to hold treated water.”
For Chalmers and Steve, this was one visit of several with partners in Ghana. Idlewild has many success stories to tell from its nine water partnerships. In all cases, they credit the PCG and local governments for their commitment to working together to transform lives. Steve, who also moderates the Ghana Network said, “This is the future of Living Waters for the World in Ghana.”