A hand pump mechanics delight

“My name is Okiror, I have been married to my wonderful wife Akol for 45 years. God has blessed us with many children and grandchildren and they have filled our home with so much warmth and joy. I have lived in Morita village, Kumi District, Eastern Uganda for over 50 years. Most of these years I served the people of Kumi District as a bicycle repairer mending all sorts of bicycles and earning a modest wage from it.

One of the biggest challenges for the people in my village, and other villages close by, was a lack of clean water. We got our water for cooking and bathing from open ponds which were usually contaminated with frogs and other animals. The water made me and my children sick all the time and, like many other people in our community, we regularly visited the health centres where we had to spend a lot of money treating our water-related illnesses.

When my village received a borehole from the government about 20 years ago, we were so excited. Everyone in the community pumped water from it day in and day out. However, it was the only water source serving four villages and the pressure from many people resulted in it breaking down several times.

Whenever it broke down, it took approximately one month to get a mechanic from Soroti (the nearest big town) to come and repair it. During this time, we had no choice but to drink the unsafe water from the ponds. Whenever we called in local unskilled mechanics to help repair the borehole, many of them would make mistakes including dropping the pipes into the well which would make it even more expensive and more difficult to repair.

Today, we rarely have these challenges because more hand pump mechanics were trained and I am delighted to be one of them. Fields of Life trained us for five days, they gave each one of us a toolbox with all of the tools that we need for repairing a borehole and other types of water sources such as protected springs. They even gave each one of us a bicycle to enable us to travel easily to villages facing problems with their boreholes.

My wife sometimes jokes that my new role as a hand pump mechanic will break my back, but I assure her that I would rather have a broken back than have my grandchildren, and others in the villages, drinking unsafe water and falling sick. The communities often give me a small taken for my work when I repair their boreholes and this has helped me improve the standard of living for my family.”

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