How we take water for granted.
When I first came to Ukraine in 2002, I was introduced to the water problems of Ukraine. My first experience took place in Patriky, Ternopol region, while I was in the lecture phase of missionary school. The village where the school was held had turned off the water for three to five days. This was not so unusual for the local people. What was funny, although not at the time, was my not knowing what to do. An announcement was made that there was an outhouse in the back yard. For some reason, that announcement was not translated for me.
In the second phase, outreach, my team lived in a city in western Ukraine for two months. We lived in a flat on the sixth floor, about a twenty minute walk from the center of the city. Our water situation was an eye opener for me. Hot and cold water were available for two hours in the morning, two hours at mid day, and four hours in the evening. What a challenge it was for me to coordinate all of the team water needs with our other activities. I learned a lot about living with other people during those two months.
Seven years have come and gone, and I have had a lot of water stories to tell. As I write this story, I am once again in Western Ukraine. This time I am in the city of Borislav, in the L’vov region. This is my fourth visit, and I am only beginning to learn about their water problems. For instance, during the last eighteen years, they have not had hot water.
In 2008, MUCH started to support the ministry that Volodya has. He works with orphaned children in the city of Dobromel. In his home in Borislav where I stayed the first three visits, I learned that he is an engineering genius. In his home on the fourth floor, they receive water twice a day for two hours. It is common for people in this city to fill the bathtub in the morning, using that water for the toilet, cooking and cleaning needs throughout the day. Instead of accepting this as normal, Volodya has installed a gravity fed holding tank and a gravity fed hot water tank. They still must be careful with their water use, but it is available all day.
This time, I stayed at Volodya’s son-in-law and daughter’s home on the first floor in a separate section of the city. A third problem in Borislav is that household gas is turned off two days a week. House heating is controlled by the city in the winter. Volodya created a new system to meet all of the need of this home throughout the year. He installed a hot water heater that heats water for the sinks and bathtub. It has a separate line that heats water for the house. In the basement area of the building, he installed a five hundred liter holding tank that fills when the water comes on. A pump moves the water up when it is called for. There are three filter systems to clean the water. I am continually amazed to see how the people of Ukraine meet their daily challenges!