In Brazil, the water finally flows

AdvocacyCommunityFamilyHealthcareLivelihoodsWASH

Moises Frausino da Silva has faced many droughts in his lifetime and lived much of his life with a lack of water. He is a father of 11 children and lives in Serrão in the semi-arid region of Paraiba State, in north-eastern Brazil.

The community of Serrão gathers for the consecration of the well. Photo: Lindon Carlos Vieira
The community of Serrão gathers for the consecration of the well. Photo: Lindon Carlos Vieira

Life without water

The community is 42 kilometres from the nearest city centre. Access is difficult. The back roads are poor quality and the government’s water trucks have always found it difficult to reach them. 

Water only used to be available briefly in the winter rainy season. Crops would frequently fail at other times of the year leading to widespread food shortages. The community hoped that a kite-powered water pump would help, but there was not enough wind to make it work. 

For many years Moises waited on the promises of politicians to drill a well for the community. He was finally given some hope when he learnt that there was a church that drilled wells in poor communities where access to water was difficult. 

First steps

At first Moises and Cicero Alves, the community leader, found it hard to believe that the church would come to such a backwater. ‘Why would a church be interested in helping people who are not part of a church?’ asked Cicero. They had been used to carrying water on donkeys for years and neither the government nor city hall had ever answered their cry for water facilities. 

The new well project was explained to the community by an agricultural technician at a meeting hosted by Tearfund’s partner organisation, ACEV Social. ‘This had the potential to give the community its independence and a new identity. So we started to work together to change our lives,’ said Cicero. 

Community effort 

Initially, they drilled down 52 metres but it did not work. ‘Our dreams and lives were wrapped up in this project. And when we did not find water with the first drilling, our world collapsed,’ said Sueli Frausino da Silva Lima, a local farmer.

Today, the well produces more than 3,000 litres of water per hour and all the families in this community have good water to drink.

Sueli Frausino da Silva Lima co-ordinated the project. She had watched her family suffer for years without access to water. Photo: Robério Oliveira
Sueli Frausino da Silva Lima co-ordinated the project. She had watched her family suffer for years without access to water. Photo: Robério Oliveira

The community redoubled their efforts, bringing children, families and the local pastor on board. Sueli mobilised the community association and worked closely with a ACEV Social volunteer. During this time she suffered serious health complications, and had to travel several times to the state capital. She was accompanied by the church pastors who supported her and her family with counselling and prayers. 

‘But with God the end is the beginning,’ said Sueli. ‘My brothers gathered everything we had to drill another well and God fulfilled our dream, water for all in Serrão. After the drilling, we couldn’t afford to assemble and equip the well, but God sent his angels, and the church that had been with us at the beginning decided to continue supporting the project.’ 

Gaining independence 

Today, the well produces more than 3,000 litres of water per hour and all the families in this community have good water to drink. 

Cicero talks about the satisfaction of working together with the church to help transform his community. ‘The work was done, overcoming the distances and the prejudices that existed in the past. Thank God the well gave water. Now this community is happy and independent.’ 

José Ivonildo Fernandes, agricultural technician for the region’s Semi-Arid Sustainable Programme, added: ‘The families have already shared with me their happiness. They are now able to plant vegetables, provide water for their animals and have a sense of independence.’

Marah Danielle
Marah Danielle is a social worker who works for ACEV and Evangelical Action Brazil