Friendly Water for the World’s very first project was in Burundi – the “heart of Africa” – a country beset by the same kind of inter-ethnic violence experienced by Rwanda, its better known neighbor to the north. In Mutaho – a town of what had been 150,000 in central Burundi - virtually every home and building had been destroyed, with tens of thousands made homeless.
Friendly Water started by training a group of widows whose husbands had been lost in the 1993 genocide, or in the ongoing guerrilla conflicts in the area. They were part of a program called “Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities” (HROC), whereby individuals and communities learned skills and tools in assisting with trauma healing and mediation. The Friendly Water training was (and is) an extension of ongoing peacebuilding efforts.
The widows in turn trained former child soldiers and guerrillas who had gone through the HROC program, and together they formed a cooperative to help ensure clean water and to teach community sanitation and hygiene. More than 300 Filters have been installed, and neighboring households – Hutu and Tutsi – share water with each other. The result has been a radical reduction in waterborne illnesses, and a significant improvement in community morale. Friendly Water for the World has hundreds of testimonies from individuals and families whose lives have been transformed through access to clean water.