Hi, my name is Father Joseph. I am an ordained Catholic priest from Kenya. I have always felt it my calling to serve and care for people, and that is why I wanted to become a priest. When I was in primary school, I was involved with my church, where I was able to serve different people around the world. This is my passion.
I currently serve 17 smaller churches, 11 Catholic schools, and 5,000-10,000 families. The majority of the people we serve are orphaned children, and most of these people and children have HIV or Aids.
The most common battle I witness is unsafe water. Water does not exist in my country like it does in America. Where I serve is a very dry place. We have filters, but you cannot use a filter if there is no water. My parish has tried several options to create a reliable system for safe water, but everything has failed. We have a pump, but without money, it cannot be repaired properly.
I look at the future and am concerned. I have become very disappointed in my ministry, because I believe you must care for the whole person: spirit and body. I go to visit families, and in my culture, you are served tea and/or water, and to reject this tradition is a rejection of the person. So, to not offend people, I drink it and pray that I do not get sick. However, I have personally had typhoid because I drank unsafe water.
My people see their priest as their solution because they cannot always afford to go to the hospital. So, they come to me for healing. I usually see 5-6 people a day to be annointed as a result of water-borne illness and poor sanitation. Mothers will tell me, “My child isn’t in school.” Men will tell me, “I lost my job.” Everything is connected to water. People must drink something, and because there is no water, they do not have time to consider whether it is safe or not. They know why they are sick, but what else can they do?
The lack of water is a double tragedy. People nor livestock can survive without water, which means people suffer from lack of food and water. They do not choose between being hungry or thirsty–they are always hungry and always thirsty because there is no safe water. Also, during the dry seasons, there is a significant drop in school attendance. Children must drop out of school to risk their lives walking long distances on unsafe roads at vulnerable times of day to fetch water that is killing them.
I am thankful that I have found WaterStep on social media, and am hopeful for access to safe water with their tools and support. I want this nightmare of unsafe water to go away, and WaterStep is helping me imagine that reality. I can’t just rely on sacraments and preaching. If peoples’ bodies are unhealthy, I cannot preach–I must help them get well.
You can stop the double tragedy in communities like mine, and give hope for safer and healthier lives.
Donate to WaterStep now.
Father Joseph Mungai, Kenya