Christmas in the Congo Fundraisers
I hope this 2022 Advent Season is a meaningful one for you and your family. Advent—a time to look back and celebrate the birth of our Savior over two thousand years ago, a time to look ahead as we await His second coming in glory and prepare ourselves to meet our final judgment. And we at Friends of the Congo also take this time to look back and assess our efforts over the last year, and look forward to the new year with hope that we can better address the needs of the villagers in Yassa in the Congo.
Last year at this time, I announced our successful completion of the deep well to provide water for the Maternity Clinic and for the community in general. Unfortunately, the design of the solar electric system to power the well was never adequate and the village had to temporarily resort to using a generator powered by scarce and expensive diesel fuel—and then the generator failed. We have recently contracted with a company that has specific expertise in solar-powered wells to make improvements to our installation. (This is the same company that successfully accomplished the repairs to the solar electric system on the Maternity Clinic after it was damaged by a lightning strike.) As I write this update, their representatives are onsite working to implement the necessary repairs.
The well repairs have taken a huge bite out of our finances. We had hoped to start the physical construction of the Examination Clinic during 2022, but that is currently on hold until we can restore our building fund. The good news is that the Examination Clinic plan and budget have taken shape over the year. The construction of the proposed clinic is broken into four phases to make it more manageable. The first phase is the most critical because it will house the medical equipment donated by MedShare several years ago, but which has been in storage since its arrival. The cost of the physical building for Phase 1 is $57,000. Our current building fund stands at $14,000.
I would like to thank all our generous donors who have continued to contribute over the year since our last organized fund drive, the 2021 Christmas in the Congo appeal. Now I would like to kick off a new 2022 Christmas in the Congo appeal to continue our Examination Clinic campaign. The good news is that we have a donor who is willing to match funds donated during the month of December, up to $5,000. We prayerfully ask you to keep the Friends of the Congo Incorporated in mind as you make your year-end charitable contribution decisions. Reflect on the blessings you have received, and remember those who are less fortunate, who struggle to have clean water to drink. And, of course, we would like to ask for your continued prayers for the people of the DRC and for guidance of our non-profit. May you have a Spirit-filled Christmas season, and a blessed New Year.
Deacon Joe Hulway
President, Friends of the Congo, Inc.
Our Christmas in the Congo fund drive was very successful, falling just short of our $5,000 goal. With the matching funds, we were able to add $9,660 to our coffers. Thank you to all who were able to participate.
In my message last month (see below), I reported that a team was on-site repairing the well. Unfortunately, there has been a major setback. When the repair team arrived on site, they determined that the previous contractor had cut corners and the well pipe was undersized for the required pump. We have accepted their recommendation to drill a new larger diameter bore hole. This expenditure will completely exhaust our Examination Clinic building fund, but we decided that we had no other choice than to complete this project before we initiate a new one.
When I sent out the 2022 tax receipts to our donors, I included the following brief history of our well construction and repair saga that began back in 2020.
Working through Fr. Jean and Fr. Damien, his cousin, we were able to originally obtain only two quotes for the project. They were very disparate. The first was for $57,500 from a local company. The second was from Weast, a reputable international company, which quoted $162,240. Fr. Damien reported that the people of the village had confidence in the first contractor based upon good experiences in nearby villages. Because the two bids weren’t exactly apples-to-apples quotes, and because the second company was subcontracting much of the actual work, some of the discrepancy could be explained. We tried to negotiate with Weast but were not successful in attaining significant concessions. With our budget and fund-raising limitations, we felt we had no choice but to proceed with the low bid.
The drilling process took much longer than expected because of frequent equipment malfunctions, but finally the well was able to produce water as we reported last year. Unfortunately, we later learned that the design of the solar electric equipment used to power the pump was inadequate, and a diesel generator was required. That generator failed and when a new generator was eventually obtained the pump no longer functioned.
In the meantime, we had an excellent experience with Weast which repaired the solar electric system on the Maternity Clinic after a lightning strike. And so we approached them to replace the pump and solar equipment at the well. We accepted their quote of $30,000 for that project, even though it would make a big dent into our building fund for the proposed Examination Clinic. However, when they arrived on site, they determined that the previous contractor had cut corners and the inside diameter of the well pipe was undersized for the required pump. They have recommended a new bore hole at a cost of $39,000 which will completely exhaust our building fund.
Our upgrades will bring the total expenditure for the well to about $126,500. Although we will have fewer frills than the original high quote, we will ultimately have the same functioning components for less money.
Please pray that the new well and the new pumping equipment installation will be successful so that we can move forward with raising funds for the long-awaited Examination Clinic.
Deacon Joe Hulway
President, Friends of the Congo, Inc.
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Friends of the Congo, Inc. is organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes in accordance with Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.