A WATER WELL NAMED CARDINAL STEFAN WYSZYŃSKI
Jan Kulowski talks with an initiator of fundraiser for building a water well in Czad Anna Kulik about the Polish contribution in opening sources of water for Africa
In the second half of XX century, Africa as a continent was an area of social changes arousing hopes. Despite its gained sovereignty, it is still an area of human poverty, cardboard districts, habitats of untreated diseases, and sometimes epidemics endangering all of us. Facing this challenge, Christian Churches and international organizations remain unanimous: Africa needs water, the source of life, cleanness and civilizational development. Although it is one of the urgent problems of Africa, it can be the beginning of solidary bringing help to others. This idea joins not only missionary initiatives but also allows for cooperating with initiatives of secular institutions
JAN KULOWSKI: - How did the idea of building a water well in Czad appear?
ANNA KULIK: - In October 2012, in the parish of St. Urszula Ledóchowska in Lublin there was a conference on the issue ‘The Vatican Council II – memories and reflections’. This conference was prepared by the local Group of Friends of the Primate of Millennium. The fruit of the discussions was our idea similar to a conciliar deed of generosity. Such actions were undertaken by Polish parishes during of the Vatican Council. On the anniversary of the Vatican Council, in the Year of Faith, we decided to transform our faith into a deed – so that it would not be dead – without any deeds. At the same time we received information about the missionary – Fr. Artur Bartol SDB and about needs of inhabitants of Czad. This information was passed to us by Fr. Sylwester Jędrzejewski SDB. So, we made the decision: we will raise funds for building a well in Czad.
– The idea worth praising but how did you put it into practice?
– We decided to raise needed money from wastepaper. Certainly, it was not possible with the strengths of one parish. Therefore, through a wide group of acquaintances we were looking for possibilities of including other parishes from Lublin into this initiative. We were also encouraging priests and laymen from other parishes. As a result of these actions, 23 parishes from Lublin, Nałęczów, Konopnica, a Complex of Schools in nearby Wilczopol and workers of the Postal Office no 2 in Lublin were united by the vision of a new well in Czad.
Our action lasted 9 months. We managed to collect 178 940 kg of wastepaper, which gave us the amount of 53 682 zlotys. A parish record-holder collected even 24 770 kg of wastepaper. The biggest one-time contribution in the action is 5320 kg.
– Collecting such an amount of paper, organizing transport, gaining documents and finally spending the raised money required sacrifice, knowledge and talents of organizers…
– Priests and randomly asked passers-by joined the help in guarding order around containers. If it was only possible, I was looking for the so-called pilots of the action in parishes who were taking care of guarding order around a container, were putting up posters and when it was necessary, they were passing information about the necessity of changing a container. The result of these actions was developing a community of people interested in this water well – they showed much concern and were asking if the water well would really be created. They were also asking about next fund-raisers. They were attentively listening to our stories and it was seen that this problem was moving them. One of grandmothers was telling us about her 5-year-old granddaughter who ‘was controlling’ her so that she would collect every piece of paper into wastepaper ‘for children who do not have water’. our acquaintances were bringing us waste-paper. 300 kg of wastepaper arrived from Austria – especially for us! One of parish priests was telling us about somebody who did not come to church but he had brought waste-paper. In the Year of Faith, due to our action, also he started being close to the Church.
– Was your action developing also into other forms of realizing the common project, apart from the big wastepaper collecting action?
– The basic form of raising funds was collecting waste-paper, and there were also ‘Letter to fiancés – a bouquet of alive water’ and 33 cans of P.G. Frassati with the inscription: ‘….I want to share what I have got, refusing myself something nice in order to help our fellowmen in need…’. Those who wanted, were throwing money into them, often saved in an original way. Among the ideas there was, for example, a declaration of resigning from a drive by car for the sake of travelling by bus, and money intended for parking went into a can.
– And, finally, did you manage to give this Lublin water well in Czad to those in need?
– Three water wells in Czad have already been built for the raised funds. But, apart from this realized project we won other, maybe more important successes. We discovered friendliness, among the others, in unknown people, as well as their willingness to help others.
– It means a particular fruit of good understanding the evangelical truth in the Year of Faith: ‘Whatever you have done to one of my brothers – you have done to Me’ (see Mt. 25.40). Needs of our neighbor is not only the space of human solidarity but also a chance of meeting with Christ. What are your plans for the future?
– The patron of the mission is St. Theresa. Her help in our action was concrete. I believe that she will suggest us how to use the gained experience for new projects. After all, we are not alone… We have built a community of believers, so we will manage not only to ‘give drink to the thirsty’.