“There’s Not Enough Water”

As Refugees Poured In, Water Ran Out

Clean water is the lifeline for all people on earth. It’s a universal essential; a basic necessity that unites all human beings in our utter dependence on it.

While many prepare for the season of Lent and prepare their hearts for Easter, Father Avelino of Ave Maria Parish makes an appeal to remember the brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling in South Sudan at this very time.

A Call for Help

As families fleeing recent tribal warfare sought refuge near the church at Ave Maria parish, Father Avelino rushed to help wave after wave arriving. “The people felt safe near the church,” he said, as Father Avelino himself cleared out the church offices so families could shelter there.

With much hard work and generous emergency assistance from donors, Ave Maria parish is steadily rebuilding from that traumatic event. But far on the outskirts of the parish, Father Avelino appeals for an isolated group of people who still need help.

Most urgently, they need clean water. Water that brings life sustaining help to displaced families, who fled to a secluded community in the midst of turmoil and chaos.

During the violence that swept through the region, these refugees were isolated from help because of their distance from the parish, and the difficult journey to reach them through opposition forces.

Because of their remote location, Father Avelino recounts, “For eight months they were cut off from the parish center of Ave Maria.” That meant no emergency food, relief supplies, or medical aid could reach them. Father Avelino explained how the journey takes hours one way driving through circuitous routes. That’s under ideal conditions without the threat of rainy season and muddy roads, or the perils of violent conflicts.

Imagine your child being thirsty and asking for a drink of water. But there is none to give. In the heat, a person can only survive for a few days without water.

Running Out of Water

The population of this remote community increased dramatically as people fled to its location during the violent uprising. Hastily abandoning everything to escape with their lives, families poured into this little village who kindly took them in. But the burden of added population overwhelmed the meager hand-pump well that represents the only water supply for people living there.

The families of Ndingimo and Nabanga are willing and hopeful to make improvements in their desperate condition. Already the men, women, and children of the villages are doing what they can to help build homes for those without – but bricks require water.

Try to imagine going through a single day without water. You turn on your faucet but nothing comes out. There is no plumber to call to repair it. There’s no store nearby to pick up an extra supply. Drinking, cooking, washing, all of these things are suddenly impossible. Desperation would set in quickly. Yet this is the reality facing displaced families here. Nothing can be done without clean water.

Drinking filthy water is one of the leading causes of death in South Sudan, often polluted with animal contaminants and teeming with bacteria that spread waterborne disease.

The Difference a Water System Can Make

Father Avelino hopes to give these villages a reliable and consistent water system, by installing a specialized water pump in their current well borehole. It would be run by solar power – the preferred power source where there is no electrical grid. “Experience has shown that a properly installed submersible solar pump can last for many years without any major failure,” he explains.  The system would include an elevated water tank, which provides for a reliable supply of clean water, even as needs fluctuate.

The system would also include a backup safety pump to prevent a life threatening emergency, in the rare event the main pump fails. “If for some bad luck the pump breaks down,” he shared, “it may take months until a new pump can be brought from Uganda.” Months in which these communities would struggle to find a clean water source.

In many cases, women and girls are still forced to trek long distances through dangerous areas to bring back a jug of water for their families – water that may be contaminated with disease-causing pollutants.

An Urgent Plea from Father Avelino

There is another challenge facing the villages’ water project. The equipment must be received and installed during the dry season before the annual rains come, turning roads into impassable stretches of mud for months at a time. With this in mind, Father Avelino issued a plea for an urgent response to help these families.

Your partnership over the years has helped Father Avelino turn around Ave Maria Parish in impactful ways. “When I first arrived,” he recalls, “the state of despair was overwhelming. Rebuilding this crumbling parish seemed impossible. But hard work, prayer, and support from committed partners like you paid off.”

Transform a Community

Clean water does so much for a community. It provides lifegiving hydration, prevents waterborne disease, and supports sanitation for healthy families. Water will also make it possible to build the villagers’ dreams they hope for their community – homes for every family, and perhaps even a school and a church – a beautiful gift to share across the world, especially at this season.

On the Ground – Father Avelino of Ave Maria Parish (forefront) and David Dettoni, Director of Operations for Sudan Relief Fund, discuss how to save this community with a water pump and well system to sustain so many displaced families.

How to Help

In conjunction with Sudan Relief Fund’s 25th Anniversary, we’ve released a new Gift Catalog, a resource that makes it easy to help in the areas of greatest need – in this case, bringing clean water to a struggling community. You can donate directly to our appeal, or fund a portion of a well system through our catalog. Find our Gift Catalog on our website or click here.

Father Avelino expressed how inspired he is by the resilience of the South Sudanese people, enduring so much trauma, but always holding onto hope and striving for a better future.

“I have worked and prayed alongside my parishioners at Ave Maria for nearly four years, but I have only begun to understand the true pain and hardships they’ve endured. Yet just like our location in the heart of Africa, the people of South Sudan have proven they have the heart to persevere.

Would you share the gift of clean water that gives life to a remote community in the outer rims of Ave Maria Parish? Help must arrive soon before the dry season expires and roads are closed. Father Avelino shared his plea, “As you reflect on your own life during this Lenten and Easter season, please consider the lives of these desperate peopleYour gift could be the one that changes lives and sparks miracles.”

Sudan Relief Fund is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization established in 1998 for the purpose of bringing food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention to the people of South Sudan. Since then, with the prayers and support of faithful people like you, we have made very real progress under the most difficult circumstances imaginable.

Neil A. Corkery


Neil A. Corkery President

PS – As we enter our 25th year of saving lives in South Sudan, we recognize your help has done so much. Says Father Avelino, “Your love and devotion for the people has helped through the bleakest of times. Would you please continue your support for our brothers and sisters in Christ?” Your gift will turn around a community with lifegiving clean water, bringing benefits that last for generations.

Increase Your Gift at No Extra Cost!

Did you know you may be able to double the amount of your gift without giving an additional dollar of your own? Thousands of companies participate in Corporate Match programs. This means they match dollar-for-dollar the amount their employees donate to charitable organizations – doubling your gift! Imagine creating twice the impact of your contribution.

Learn more about the Corporate Match Program.