Almost everywhere in Africa access to clean drinking water is a major problem. Hence to have your own well is a great blessing. But many people still have to get their water from rivers and other unsafe sources, and many die as a result from avoidable illnesses. 

The Carmelite sisters of the convent of the Glorious Saint Joseph in Kinshasa are becoming desperate. They do have a well in fact, but for a year now it has not had any more water in it. Since the public water supply is not functioning, even in the capital, they are entirely dependent on this well. But after many attempts at repairing it, it has become clear that it is not a problem with the pump, but simply that the groundwater levels have fallen so much that the current well, which is only about 50 feet deep and which has provided the sisters with drinking water for the past 34 years, will not yield any more water in the future. A new well will have to be drilled.

(One of the Carmelite nuns of the convent of the Glorious Saint Joseph in Kinshasa standing next to the current water pump that has run dry © Aid to the Church in Need)

Since their water supply has dried up, the sisters‘ host baking enterprise has also come to a halt. Still worse are the consequences for their vegetable garden and their livestock rearing - chickens, pigs and rabbits - which they had also built up in order to support their modest life. Normally the local women are happy to buy their produce and sell it on in the local markets, thereby providing the sisters with a small source of income and at the same time also helping some of the poorer local women to earn a little money. But now they not only have no produce left to sell but even have to buy the vegetables for their own use which they would otherwise have provided from their own garden. And on top of this they can now no longer take in guests, who in the past have used the convent for retreat days and so forth.

The sisters have turned to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) for urgent assistance. “We don‘t know how we‘re going to survive”, they wrote despairingly in a recent letter to the charity.

ACN has no intention of leaving them to struggle on and has promised a grant of $24,000 to drill a new well.

The vital work of Catholic charities like Aid to the Church In Need provide a lifeline to the Church wherever she is poor, persecuted or threatened. Please help our work by donating online or send your donation to Aid to the Church in Need, PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153. Ph: (02) 9679-1929 

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