Half of Sudan’s surface is covered with sand and dry land.
The significance of water is obvious, but its distribution? Scarce. Water in Sudan and Africa in general is needed to cover not only personal needs, but also for agriculture and feeding of the livestock.
The area of North Kordofan, located south of Khartoum, is the place in great need of a clean source of water. Sadagaat is the NGO that offered to help us construct the well. When we spoke in an earlier post about how deeply kind and hospitable Sudanese people are, definitely the boys and girls of Sadagat, mainly university students, made sure that showed this to us. Without their help, a project like this would be impossible to accomplish. Apart from the fact that they organised everything for us, from the necessary paperwork to transportation and accommodation in Kordofan, they made us feel at home by including us in their social life !!
To take things from the start, building a waterwell is not an easy task.
First of all, compared to our other volunteering projects, it needed time to plan as well as we needed tecnical knowledge. Which we did not have. We knew also that this had to be done in Sudan, one of the driest areas we would be passing from during this journey . However, as we later discovered, after efforts to find relative information through the network of the Greeks of Khartoum, this was going to be something extremely difficult. The cost would be big, the paperwork intensive, also permits to the affected areas (closer to South Sudan) were putting a lot of barriers to the realisation of the waterwell.
After countless searches on the internet, we bumped on Sadagaat.
Sadagaat is a Sudanese Charity group focused on raising funds and distributing them to the needful Sudanese families & individuals. And this is exactly what they do! We spoke with Nazeem, and he was from the very start very supportive with our idea.Even though they were not dealing with waterwells themselves,they found us the right link to a fellow charity group who was building wells in the area of Kordofan. The time we had was short, so it was arranged to arrive in time for the start of the works on the well. Our campaign reached its goal! One more time, the help we got from friends and extended friends was the most important thing! Having such a support was something that made us extremely happy because we were able to keep our promise and make this project come true! But even at this early stage we weren’t yet able to grasp the importance of this!
Some 10 days later (and some clever arrangements!) we were on the bus travelling to the south and El Obeid. El Obeid is the capital of the state of North Kurdufan, in southern Sudan. Needless to say, that even though the bus service was excellent and offering even bottled water and cakes (!) the 8 hours we spent on the bus were difficult. There was only 1 stop at a local restaurant where we had some pitta bread and steaming sweet tea, but other than that no stops for toilet.In my despair, I darted out of the bus on a stop to pee behind a rock. Everyone was watching this white girl peeing but i didn’t care. After 4 minutes after I returned relieved to my seat, two policemen came screaming inside the bus. I was lucky we were accompanied by Sadagaat volunteers, because as I found out we had no permit for a visit (?) to this area of Sudan.
But finally we were safe and sound in El Obeid, from where , a car was waiting to take us to the village of Bara .
The sun was setting magnificently on the desert as we were passing the straight road,until we reached Mama Safia’s place in the pitch dark. Mama Safia had her own charity and she was the one organisitng the erection of the wells for the area. She hugged us warmly as we entered her terrace , which was covered by warm red sand and we sat on metallic framed beds having a chat. Immediately we felt like the hot summer days at home in Greece, where we would sit outside and chat. As we found out later, people in Sudan really love sleeping in beds outside at night, which i find very liberating!
We went to sleep early since the next day we would venture our first visit to the villages and the DESERT!
The next morning apart from a rich breakfast, two jeeps were waiting to take us to the villages. Our driver was an old, calm man, and I wondered if he could manage the drive! We got in the cars and off we went to explore!
The drive through the desert was not something we expected. It was hard following the trails that other jeeps had left, and also everything looked the same so we had no idea how the driver could navigate! We came across camel herds and staw huts, but the most amazing part was rolling up and down the sand dunes. The sensation was priceless!
Two hours we spent searching for the village. And we passed also through other small villages with men wearing white gelebias and women carrying water on their heads. As we reached the village of Al-Yhouya, the men of the village rushed to welcome us. We were told that currently the womend and children here would walk at least 2 hours per day to bring water from the nearest village with a well. We could not imagine how it was possible to carry such a weight and walking on the hot sand with temperatures rising well above 40… We also did not understand why then all the villages where at such a distance from each other… As the leaders discussed the details for the work to be done, we saw that the well had been dug already and was several meters deep.
The next days we tried to finish the building in time, while getting used to the heat was not easy even though our hosts were doing everything to make our stay more comfortable. I had also an injured ankled and this made things more difficult.On the last day, it took us until late at night to see the final part of the well being complete. The next day, the women and children of the village were filling up the tank, and everybody was excited! The chief was very pleased about this and the first thing he did was to bring a jar full of the fresh ,clean water and pass it through to all of us!! We took it in our hands and saw through the glass!
Clean water! Something so simple and yet so inaccessible for so many people in this world!
Happy and complete, we took the bus to Khartoum, to continue this journey to the north of the beautiful country. :)
P.S Once again a big THANKS to all the big hearts who funded our crowdfunding campaign and helped us to make this project come true!africa, sudan