Conshohocken UMC’s 80 members believe in the adage, “Through God, all things are possible.” In addition to serving in mission with local neighbors, “ConshyUnited” works with Living Waters for the World to share the gift of clean, sustainable water with community partners in Kenya, Cuba and soon, at the Karama Education Center located in Uganda.
“I feel that I’ve been called to do this work because God has given me so many blessings in life,” says Dave Patterson, who with his wife, Pat, helm the ConshyUnited Living Waters team. “One of the ways that I can do that is by providing clean water, one of the most valuable resources that we have in this world, yet one that millions of our brothers and sisters do not have.”
Pat adds, “In Uganda, 80 out of every 1,000 children will die before they reach their 5th birthday due to illnesses caused by drinking contaminated water and inadequate sanitation practices. By installing a Living Waters for the World water filtration system, we will be able to purify the water and provide the community with safe drinking water for a generation!”
Living Waters for the World’s unique, volunteer-driven, “train, equip, support” model has empowered groups like Conshohocken UMC to form clean water partnerships in over 1,000 communities throughout the world. “The “secret sauce” can be summed up in one word – relationships,” says LWW Executive Director, Steve Young. “The relationships formed by the Conshohocken Living Waters team with their international community partners are a wonderful example of joining around God’s table to share both gifts and accountability so that clean water may flow for years to come.”
As with their water installations in Kenya and Cuba, the ConshyUnited team sees their partnership with Uganda’s Karama Education Center as another “God thing.” The school, located just a few kilometers from both Republic of Congo and Rwanda, began in 2017 as a joint effort of the NOW AFRICA Initiative and The Chain Collaborative.
Currently serving 350 students Kindergarten through 7th grade, the school already boasts the second highest literacy rate in their district. And, after having to collect water from a great distance, the school now has a rainwater harvesting system and local tap. Unfortunately, the water source is contaminated, causing widespread illness.
In 2018, The Chain Collaborative’s executive director shared this information at a meeting of the Conshohocken Rotary Club, where – you guessed it – the Pattersons were in attendance. “We felt God tap us on the shoulder,” laughs Dave. “With God’s help and the experience we had gained from our other Living Waters partnerships, we knew our team could climb this mountain.”
Fundraising began in earnest, seeded with support from their Rotary club and a Eastern PA Conference Peace with Justice grant. The team travelled to the site in January 2020 to lay the groundwork, following Living Waters for the World protocols. Upon arrival, the team was greeted with dancing and a feast of the best the community had to offer. Then getting down to business, the Water Committee was formalized with responsibility for the ongoing sustainability of the system, and the Operations and Education committees were also formed.
Project preparation and system management plans came next. “The school and community are committed to improving the health of the children and believe clean water is key to improving health and the ability to learn and flourish,” says Dave. “Each of the teachers at the school will be trained as either health instructors or system operators. In addition, an equal number of community members will be trained and participate on these teams, thus ensuring solid coverage for all ages in learning about and running and maintaining the system.”
Of course, no endeavor of this magnitude comes without challenges, and the ConshyUnited Living Waters team has encountered more than its share due to the global pandemic. Previously scheduled to return this past September to complete the installation of the system and the solar panels required to power it, the team has had to learn the tough lesson of patience.
“Waiting is hard, particularly knowing the need,” says Pat. “Our plan is for the solar installation to take place later this spring, with the water system to follow this fall. We ask for prayers for our partners during this time and for a successful outcome.”
When able to travel, the ConshyUnited Living Waters team will boast new members, partnering with other LWW-trained volunteers from First UMC of Wenatchee, WA, further demonstrating the power of relationships in God’s service.
Tim Duchesne, lead pastor of ConshyUnited, has seen first-hand the benefits of following God’s call, wherever it may lead, including sharing clean water for bodies and souls. “Here at Conshohocken United Methodist, it is truly an honor to help bring clean drinking water to those in need. Our ongoing support of this ministry is making a difference in the lives of others and our own, and we are privileged to be a part of the Living Waters for the World ministry. It is our hope that we will be able to continue to make a difference in the lives of others in this way well into the future.”
How You Can Help
While much of the funding required for the installation of the water system has been secured, approximately $5,000 remains to be raised. Any funds received above that amount will be used to support other projects for the school and surrounding community. Donations for the Uganda project may be made to: Conshohocken United Methodist Church, 20 W 6th Avenue, Conshohocken, PA 19428.
Article provided by Conshohocken UMC
NOTE: Living Waters for the World welcomes participation and funding from UM churches who are led to share clean water. To learn more, visit livingwatersfortheworld.org or contact Steve Young directly: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, the UMC’s General Commission on United Methodist Men has recommended Living Waters for the World as an official partner ministry.