The initiative to develop the WPDC wells program began when one of our directors (sent out from Uniting Church Pitt Town) was serving as a volunteer in Papua. Shelley was approached by a small group of Papuans, to help establish an international partnership to improve access to safe, clean water. Thus we started to build wells. We have at this stage built 13 wells. The clean water needs of the people are enormous. Health, education and general well-being are all the positives of clean water. Their lives are changed overnight.

At the date of writing the Papuan Team has 6 staff highly skilled in building the wells with use of specialised fibreglass moulds. WPDC is still developing and at this stage we aim to provide funds to enable one well every 8 weeks to be built by our Partner. The immediate goal is to find a way so there is sufficient regular income to build a well every month. WPDC has been working towards increasing the number of fibreglass moulds of the Papuan Partner whilst a small team of amazingly dedicated supporters have been working hard to fundraise for a sound second hand work vehicle for the Papuan team. With both of those factors in place the Papuan Partner should then be in a position to encourage villagers desperately needing wells to lobby their local levels of government to support the program through their social welfare programs. That contract work will not happen overnight but it is possible and WPDC is taking the steps forward so the numbers of wells being built will increase accordingly.

WPDC’s Papuan Partner is already receiving requests from different corners of Papua to extend the Clean Water Program to include their villages. Due to the mountainous terrain there is limited road infrastructure between regions in Papua so travelling to remote regions of Papua means either flying or if they are coastal area, then taking a passenger ship around the coast and then usually a number of further steps with motor boats / motored canoes and other to get to the village concerned.

All of the projects involve a prior survey of the village. The team check feasibility of the area chosen by locals. They meet with village elders about what steps are involved and other aspects or concerns they may have. The Partner then returns to base to organise staff and equipment. As a result it is always a two-step process. Organising of materials can be quite challenging in a remote area ,where for example canoes are used and these matters need a lot of prior thought and planning. When it comes to working in a remote village in a new area, the Papuan Partner needs to navigate through all those issues which differ of course in every location. For all these reasons, carrying out projects in remote regions takes a lot more time, more funds for travel and the provision of meals and so forth. Yet it is in these remote areas where the needs of people are greatest.

WPDC is looking for ways to extend the reach of our Clean Water Program into these outlying regions and step by step, slowly but surely we are finding those ways. The people of the Uniting Church “Hawkesbury Zone” and the support of so many Hills residents has been tireless. Their hard work fundraising and their generosity is humbling. Thank you.

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