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Brunnenbau macht Schule

The story behind the initiative for clean water in Congo

“Do you want to see the real Africa? The heart of the Dark Continent? I’ll take you there, take you where the tourists don’t go. Then you’ll understand how Africa works.” Jesuit priest and Rotary Club member Ludwig Bertsch could barely contain his excitement. And Hartmut Heuser, a Rotary Club member as well, began preparing for the next adventure in his already adventurous life. The journey would lead him to found a major aid project: Brunnenbau macht Schule. The initiative for clean water in Congo.


First encounters in South America

He had just gotten back from Bolivia. It was 2003. None of his colleagues wanted to go to South America to check on a project that was being sponsored by the Rotary Club. So Hartmut Heuser went there alone. He traveled there three times. He was fascinated by the technology for building the hand-drilled wells being used in the project. So simple, so effective. He attended several courses to learn the technology being used to provide fresh water.

In Congo …

While visiting Congo for the first time in 2006 he talked about this simple, cost-efficient method. He gave presentations at the university and spoke with religious organizations and bishops. The people there listened; they showed interest. So Helmut Heuser had the German engineer who had taught him about the technology flown in from Bolivia. The collaboration, however, didn’t work out. The German, South American and African perspectives were too different.

 A fire is sparked

But two Congolese men continued with the project on their own. They drilled and drilled until they finally hit water. Full of excitement they called Germany and asked for help. Hartmut Heuser began collecting donations from his family, his colleagues and from his fellow Rotary Club members.

Brunnenbau macht Schule - Die Initiative für sauberes~47

Schwere Last: Kongolesische Frauen auf dem Weg vom Wasserholen.

The project gets going

He flew back to Congo several times. And the Brunnenbau macht Schule project began to take form. He found on-site collaborative partners, more wells were built, the first Congolese were trained, the first mobile well construction school was founded. Demand was huge. The project was a success at every level.

Responsibilities grow

And now, in early 2012, the initiative is entering its fifth year. Harmut Heuser is now 73 years old and has turned to his fellow countrymen in Germany for support. He asked the students of the Munich Journalist Academy to design a website and PR concept. In Germany, the initiative is currently poised to become an official non-profit organization. Want to help?