The St. Phoebe Board has designated the St. Photini Well Project as its charitable project for the 2017 conference “Renewing the Male and Female Diaconate in the Orthodox Church.”
Conference attendees–and those who cannot attend the conference–are invited to participate in the charitable project to help the greater African mission, because the diaconate is about service, and we rejoice in the courageous move by Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria to consecrate deaconesses for the purpose of ministry in the Congo.
Donations to the St. Photini Well Project can be made here or at the conference with a check or credit card.
Dubbed “Mission is Possible,” the project is the brainchild of St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox, host parish of the St. Phoebe Conference.
“I was there the day the water came up out of the ground. This particular village is home to St. Sosthenes Secondary School, the only Orthodox-sponsored school in the region, plus four neighboring schools and hundreds of villagers. A total of four thousand people turned out for the occasion. Children were given the day off from school. Older people who couldn’t walk were carried on chairs…after a couple of trying hours, the water finally did come out [of the well]…several people were now openly crying. Others were shouting out their prayers, thanking God for this relief. There was dancing, laughing, and hugging. Many people were crossing themselves in thanksgiving.”
Adam Mwesigwa, Mission is Possible Coordinator, St. Photini Well Project
Before the St. Photini Well Project began, St. Paul’s had already built a church in Tanzania, dispatched two mission teams to assist with construction of the church, and assembled medical teams for outreach medical clinics. When one of the mission teams saw a young girl using a mud puddle in the road to fill her water bottle, they realized how vital clean drinking water was for the people there. Most of the diseases the first mission team saw in the people there were water-bourne. In one village 110 of the 160 patients had worms.
St. Paul’s partnered with another Orthodox church in 2010, and began raising money to purchase well drilling equipment and start a water program with the Archdiocese of Mwanza. Since then, the St. Photini Well Project has accomplished the following:
• purchased and sent a drilling rig to Tanzania
• purchased and sent a truck on which to mount the drilling rig
• sent a training specialist from the U.S. to Tanzania to train the drilling team and help develop the first well
• purchased a second truck and rig primarily for installing casings and pumps, and for repairs
• hired Adam Mwesigwa, former general secretary of the Archdiocese of Mwanza and graduate of the University of Athens, and Holy Cross School of Theology to continue organizing and supervising the St. Photini Well Project
• since hiring Mr. Mwesigwa in 2015, twelve more wells have been dug and provide fresh water for the first time to more than 40,000 people
While the project is now capable of building one well each month, the goal is to double that output. Each well costs between $3,500 and $5,000, depending on how deep they need to dig to reach water, and whether a hand pump or electric pump (for deeper wells) is needed.
The St. Phoebe Center board is honored to provide this opportunity to raise money for more wells so that clean water is accessible for more people in Africa.