Water for the needy, in memory of a mom

Fr. Joseph Mungai of Kenya is raising funds for a well in his home village to honor his beloved mom, Lucy Nungari Mungai.

Father Joseph Mungai is asking for help to bring clean water to the people of his homeland in Kenya. He’s asking in memory of his mom, Lucy, who died at the age of 53 from an illness complicated by the lack of clean, abundant water.

“Providing clean drinking water has been a passion for me for a very long time,” Father Mungai told Catholic Ecology in an interview via email. “When I was young we could walk for more than 20 kilometers to go and carry water on our backs to bring back home for domestic use.”

Just after his ordination four years ago, Father Mungai was assigned to a parish in Kisumu, Kenya. some 350 kilometers west of Nairobi. “In this parish, they had a bigger problem than we had at home.” While the people of Kisumu could get water from a local river, the quality of the untreated water was poor—and often dangerous.

And so Fr. Mungai’s passion grew.

In 2016 he was invited by a brother priest to Louisville, KY to meet Sr. Larraine Lauter, CEO of Water With Blessings. There he learned of how her organization provided water filters to areas of Honduras and other parts of South American.

“To me, this was a God-given moment. I shared my story with her and she agreed to extend the same program in my parish back in Kenya.” Water With Blessings was able to assist in Kenya as well, for a time, until financial issues prevented ongoing assistance.

The organization is, however, actively seeking aid for Fr. Mungai’s quest.

Many kilometers outside of Nairobi, Gatura is a semi-arid area. “The only way to access water is by drilling a water borehole,” Fr. Mungai said. “The recent study indicates that water table is between 250-300 meters deep,” which would require some $21,000 for drilling. Add in the costs for a well's installation, electricity, storage, distribution, etc., and the cost more than triples.

“What is driving me to drill this water borehole near my home area, first is to ease the burden of going to get water from a distance for the people around my area, and also to supply water to two schools in my neighborhood. When I went home in December after losing my Mum … I literally went on donkey carts to get water for cooking.”

You can help Fr. Mungai raise the funds needed for the well in Gatura, and you can spread the word so that others can help.

Fr. Mungai has always been a man with a vision—and the drive to turn his vision into reality. Since he was a young boy watching a local Irish missionary say Mass, he had wanted to become a priest. “He was very friendly to children,” Fr. Mungai recalls. “And every time he was celebrating Mass he would invite children to come and sit on the sanctuary.”

When he was only five years old, Fr. Mungai told his grandmother “When I grow up I want to be like him." Fr. Mungai did not remember this until a few days before his ordination when his grandmother reminded him.

“Later on in life, I could admire what priests were doing in my parish and that is where the desire of becoming one developed. So when I finished secondary school I decided that I wanted to become a Franciscan Missionary priest.”

Fr. Mungai was ordained on July 7, 2014. Now serving in the New York area, he has not forgotten his home, its people, and their need for that well to provide local, clean water.

And so, here’s where you come in.

You can help Fr. Mungai raise the funds needed for the well in Gatura, and you can spread the word so that others can help. Fr. Mungai is also asking, of course, for your prayers.

So, in honor of his mom Lucy and for all those mothers, fathers, and children in Fr. Mungai’s home, please help.

And for more information, feel free to contact Fr. Mungai at [email protected]

Photo: Flicker/Kandukuru Nagarjun. A woman in Kenya gathering water. For photos of Fr. Mungai and his mom, visit his fundraising site.

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Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.