For the first time, thousands of people in the southeastern Nigerian village of Amurri have access to clean drinking water thanks to a small Perth-based ministry.
After a year of construction, Voice of the Voiceless (VOV) turned the taps on the “Barry Hickey Clearwater Project” – a 380ft deep water bore which will provide about 5,000 people in nine villages with clean water.
Before the bore was built, the only clean water in the area was five kilometers away and villagers would either have to boil the polluted water from the local stream or buy expensive bottled water.
VOV chairperson, Frank Mallard, said the trip to Nigeria to open the bore was “life changing” and could not believe people were living without water in the 21st century.
“They live day to day with the expectation that tomorrow is going to be better – and it’s not better – but they live for the next day because the next day may be better.”
The ministry’s financial administrator, Freddie Lowe, said he was moved by how happy the people in Amurri were, despite living in such abstract poverty.
“I couldn’t imagine life that is so backwards that they don’t have things we’ve taken for granted like running water to the house, sanitation, electricity – they are so poor, there is nothing,” he said.
VOV began in 2006 and currently has 50 active members who help provide aid to remote international areas and communities.
Fr Nicholas Nweke said the ministry began planning the bore’s construction in 2011 after then-Archbishop Hickey entrusted them with helping the village, which had made a plea to him for help during his visit to Africa in 2005.
He said the project, which cost more than $50,000, was named after Archbishop Emeritus Hickey to thank him for supporting the ministry from the beginning and for ordaining three young men from Nigeria.