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Connections to Water Projects

Through Govfest, artists, dancers and musicians from the public service community support the tremendous partnership between the two great charities, United Way and Ryan’s Well Foundation. The results of these connections are a number of great infrastructure projects in communities in Ontario and around the world. In 2017, a Govfest volunteer visited several water project locations. Here is his story:

Paul Burns (right rear) with some of the happy recipients of an OPS-funded well in Uganda.

Govfest, Wells for Africa, and a Tribute

14 August, 2017

By Paul Burns, Lands & Resources Cluster, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

I had the exciting opportunity to travel to Uganda this summer and see local projects that were supported by OPS Govfest fundraising events.

Over the past 10 years, Govfest events have raised $165,000 for the OPS United Way Campaign and Ryan’s Well, supporting both local communities and projects around the world – including water projects in a number of countries.

While in Uganda, I visited some of the well projects that Govfest has funded. In the northern part of the country, I met Deleo Ocen Moses, who manages a drilling and engineering NGO that partners with Ryan’s Well Foundation. Deleo and his team took us through some districts to six villages to look at well projects that were started between 2015 and 2017.

Each village is a cluster of small family farms, with millet, corn, cassava, tomatoes, sunflowers, and bananas gowing in mixed fields on either side of the roadways. Sometimes there is one well per village, or two, or none.

At each of the well sites, we were greeted by the local volunteers who look after the wells. We were greeted enthusiastically despite the language barrier, some with a short speech, a song, or handshakes and hugs. At one site, we saw the water source used prior to the well project – a treacherous pool of milk-coloured water in a ditch!

As we visited, kids showed up to fill jerry cans with water, carrying them on bikes or on their heads. Some come several times a day. Areas without access to well water use untested streams and suffer the associated health problems.

Ryan’s Well announced the completion of its 1,116th well this year, and Govfest funds have been a part of that accomplishment. Now, Ryan’s Well will be supporting a “tribute well” in Uganda for one of our key Govfest organizers, Rosemary Cercone, who passed away in April. 

My trip was definitely a time to reflect on the value of volunteers – both those here who support our shows, and those in Uganda who work on the well projects that create life-saving, lasting impacts for so many communities.

Your Comments

Thanks for this article. As a Govfest band member it encourages me/us to work harder in
our fundraising efforts.

Linda Hajling

Well done, Paul. Surely it was an amazing adventure and for such great cause. Music to
my ears 😉

Monika Dlugopolski

This is amazing, thank you Paul Burns for your efforts. The drought situation is the worst this year, in areas of Africa, mostly said to be climate change crisis. GovFest has my support.

Yvonne D’Souza

Amazing work Mr Burns. You look so happy and like you fit in very well…I am glad you did not decide to stay in Uganda but have returned to the fold to carry on working as an OPSer.

Ezra Houser