Akol Grace and her husband, Raymond Okello, stand outside their home in the countryside of Karamoja, Uganda, in April 2021. A Catholic property developer wants to drill wells in the country, which would help more girls go to the countryside. school. (CNS photo by Kato Chrysestom / CRS)
WASHINGTON (CNS) – When Catholic property developer Nick Jordan traveled to Uganda to visit the village schools he had helped fund, he was disturbed by what he saw: many more boys than girls as students.
It turned out that girls were needed to accompany their mothers to water points in order to bring water for the household. “I was bored and angry at how unfair this is,” he fumed at the memory. “A school without a water well is just an unfair and unequal opportunity.”
âWhen you are so close to something as horrible as poverty, you have a choice to make,â Jordan said. âHave I become a real estate developer againâ¦ or am I starting an organization from scratch? “
In fact, it was more from the ground down.
He continued, âBefore I left Africa I sat down and wrote 20, 30 pages, which became the foundation of Wells of Life,â the Jordan charity created. âI have made a commitment to drill a thousand wells. “
To date, Wells for Life has raised enough money – only in the United States and Ireland – to build 650 water wells in the country since 2010 and repair another 150 wells that had fallen into disuse due to negligence.
âForty percent of wells in Africa are abandoned after two years,â Jordan told Catholic News Service in a Dec. 30 telephone interview near a California airport where he dropped off his son. “Doesn’t that just break your heart?” The only thing worse than not having water is having water and not having it available. “
He added, âJust because you provide a water well. if training is not provided with the water well, the community does not own that particular well and does not learn to use the water. To correct this, Jordan said, âWe have developed a ‘WASH’ program. Water, Access, Sanitation and Hygiene. It is essentially a one-year program to teach the local community how to adopt best practices in hygiene and sanitation.
For Jordan, it all started in his native Ireland. âWhen I was a very young boy, 4 years old, my mother walked to a well 400 meters from the house. Basically, she walked and carried two buckets of water every day, at least once a day. From there, “I had a very clear understanding of what water was, first of all,” he added. “Second, I learned how heavy the water is.”
From this school inspection tour, Jordan was determined to “create a culture where it is unacceptable for a child to die due to lack of sanitation.” It should simply be unacceptable that children die from lack of water, or die because the water is only 60 feet below their feet.
Hopes can also die. âThe next generation that followed their mother is made up of young girls. If they have dreams, their dreams are immediately crushed “to instead do what their mother did, Jordan said, noting that water” breaks the cycle of poverty. “
Being registered in Uganda, he said, “gives us quality control.” Wells drilled by Wells for Life, Jordan added, are expected to last 25 years. It costs around $ 8,000 to build a well, he noted, once a hydrologist has determined the best site to drill.
His work earned him an audience with Pope Francis. In 2020, Jordan was named by the Italian Catholic Federation as the 50th recipient of its Pope Saint John XXIII humanitarian award.
Jordan also didn’t let colon cancer deter him. He revealed the cancer diagnosis last January to the Wells for Life board of directors. He said that after raising $ 1.6 million in 2020, they wanted to let Jordan take it easy and aim for just $ 1.5 million in 2021. Instead, Jordan told the board that ‘he wanted to raise $ 2 million. The total at the end of the year, according to Jordan: $ 2.2 million.
âOur most dynamic fundraiser is Sister Joan Hogan, 88,â said a member of the Order of the Sisters of the Holy Faith based in Dublin, Jordan. âShe herself raised funds for 45 water wells. She goes to a little church and the money falls. â¦ She spends every day of the rest of her life fundraising for water. She is a force for life, for good, unlike anything I have seen on the planet.
He added: âOur youngest donor is only 13 years old and has raised funds for five wells. Each well, Jordan estimates, “will change the lives of 1,000 people, save the lives of 10 children and help about 200 mothers.”
Before Jordan underwent a CT scan on December 28, he said he convinced the nurse to become a “water warrior,” making a contribution to Wells for Life equivalent to a few dollars a day.
What about her cancer? âI have conquered this enemy,â he replied, âand I think I am cancer free. It has been a year of prayer. â¦ Stage 4 colon cancer is pretty serious, âJordan said, butâ when you have a quarter to half a million people in Uganda praying for you, you have no fear â.
“Am I then a blessed man? Yes, I am a blessed man, âJordan told CNS.
He wants to reach one million Ugandans with water wells before the 2022 release. To reach that goal, Wells for Life would need to raise around $ 2.5 million. Jordan is fearless.
But not only does he want to bring water to Ugandans, but Jordan has said his goal is to “touch the life of every Catholic in America.”