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PC(USA) partnership enables waters of life to flow in Zimbabwe

Denver Presbytery helps provide much needed reliable water resources for Mabvuku

by Douglas J. Tilton | Special to the Presbyterian News Service

Children gather water at one of the school’s taps. (Photo by Talkmore Chilanga)

Children gather water at one of the school’s taps. (Photo by Talkmore Chilanga)

MABVUKU, ZIMBABWE – Since 2005, the Presbytery of Denver has been in partnership with the Presbytery of Zimbabwe, part of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA). A cluster of the presbytery’s churches have also formed a mission partnership, “Zimbabwe KidZ,” to advance the educational opportunities for children in Zimbabwe, particularly through the 10 schools operated by the UPCSA.

Initially, the Denver churches envisioned collecting and sending school books and supplies, but as they talked with their partners in Zimbabwe and visited the UPCSA schools, it became clear that the schools’ greatest need was for safe and reliable water supplies. Climate change, drought and failing infrastructure mean many communities receive municipal water infrequently and irregularly. Because state regulations require educational facilities have reliable water supplies before they can be registered, this is a hurdle for UPCSA’s goal of creating pre-school programs in a number of congregations to promote early childhood development.

In 2014, Zimbabwe KidZ worked with Presbytery of Zimbabwe officials to develop a list of a dozen locations that were prioritized for water development and began to raise funds for the drilling of wells (known in Zimbabwe as “boreholes”). To date, seven boreholes have been completed. One of the most recent is at Mabvuku on the outskirts of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. The borehole’s solar-powered pump fills two 5000-liter storage tanks.

Twin water storage tanks. One of the tanks supplies spigots on the grounds of Mabvuku UPCSA, the other tank serves community taps. (Photo by Talkmore Chilanga)

Twin water storage tanks. One of the tanks supplies spigots on the grounds of Mabvuku UPCSA, the other tank serves community taps. (Photo by Talkmore Chilanga)

“Every day we are able to give water to about 300 to 500 people who are not members of our congregation,” writes the Rev. Talkmore Chilanga, pastor of Mabvuku UPCSA. “Each person gets 40 litres of water from the borehole.”

Rev. Chilanga said the need for water in Mabvuku has reached an alarming stage. “By 5 a.m. hundreds of people start queuing for water,” he said. In order to avoid draining the tank completely and putting too much strain on the pump, they can only supply water to the tank for a few hours each day.

As a result, hundreds of people each day go home disappointed. The disabled and the elderly are the most affected by this critical shortage of water in Mabvuku.

“We pray that we can upgrade the water system in order to increase the supply of water in the area and the opportunity God has given us to minister,” he said. “As a church we believe that we do not live for ourselves but we live for the community in which God has planted us as his light. We give thanks to the Denver mission partnership and Zimbabwe KidZ for supporting us in prayers and financially, that enabled us to minister in our community in such a special way.”

Participating Denver churches in Zimbabwe KidZ include are Green Mountain, St. James, First (Littleton), and the fellowship of Divino Salvador.

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Individuals and congregations interested in supporting the UPCSA and their work to bring clean water and educational opportunities may send a check to: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), PO Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700. Checks should be made to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and noted for fund E052041, “UPCSA Presbytery of Zimbabwe, General Support,” (designate for water development) or a fund for “Water and Sanitation For All,” E862703, or to support Doug Tilton and his ministry, E200416.


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