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A well of hope for the village of Momoi

It is almost 40 degrees in the shade on this Saturday afternoon in December. There is a light wind that brings little cooling. If the road were paved, it would be shimmering right now, but in this area, a few miles from the Southern Sudanese town of Wau, there are only dirt roads. Red earth blows across the landscape. Only a few trees provide shade, because wood is particularly valuable here. It is used to make coal, which is needed for cooking.

Lucia Adu is standing where her house was just a few years ago, in her old home, the village of Momoi. That was before the rebel groups came and destroyed everything here. All that is left of her house is a small piece of wall. "The attack was in 2013, they came, killed my neighbors, took everything they wanted and destroyed our houses, our school - just everything," Lucia reports. The ruins are silent witnesses to what happened here. 

The village of Momoi was abandoned for many years. In the meantime, nature has overgrown much of it: From the road, it is hardly visible that a village once stood here. Even though Lucia had to leave her village eight years ago, Momoi is still her home. Here she has a piece of land that she can cultivate again, on which she wants to plant fruit and vegetables to provide for herself. Because her life is expensive. Six kilometers from here she has rented a simple hut, another for her three daughters and grandchildren. She earns money by selling firewood. "Three of my children died in my accident while running away. My husband also died," she reports.

Where there is water, there is a future

Little by little, some residents are returning. Half a year ago, we from Malteser International drilled a well in this village. The construction took one week, the cost was 7,000 dollars. For us, this was one of many wells we installed in this area, about 12 kilometers from the town of Wau. For Lucia and the rest of the villagers, this was a sign that there can be a future here. That they are not the only ones who believe the security situation has improved enough for them to return to Momoi. Where there is water, there they can live. 

There are still no houses that are habitable, but there are structures that promise a future. For example, a water committee has been set up. Every day someone comes here to see that the water is flowing and the pump in the well is working. There is a youth committee and a women's committee. In the committees, the problems of the social groups are discussed and solutions are sought. What works poorly at the national level - the reliable structure of political levels - works in civil society. Lucia is the chairwoman of the women's committee: she is calm, level-headed and, despite everything she has suffered, continues to be positive. "You must rebuild our school so that the children here have a future. The roof is destroyed and the doors of the school toilets are gone. Where there is a school, there is a future," she explains. 

(January 2022)

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