April 27, 2016 // 4:30 AM
Written by Trish Lauer
“Water is life and without it, life is very difficult.” – Stephen Okurut, School Headmaster, Koreng, Uganda.
To imagine a life without fresh water seems impossible. Not having clean water, such an integral part of each day, is difficult to wrap your head around. Even harder to wrap your head around is how a village in Koreng, Uganda, just received their first fresh water well not even a year ago, in part to the generosity of Paul & Kas Gerhart, and their daughter and son-in-law.
Originally from Souderton, Paul and Kas moved to New Holland when they were looking to make a change in their lives, and staying in Souderton didn’t seem the most prudent. Knowing they enjoyed Lancaster County and all it has to offer, at first they lived in Ashlea Village, not far from Garden Spot Village, up Main Street. Over time, they preferred to focus their time on personal interests rather than home ownership and their daughter zeroed in on Garden Spot Village as a good place for the next phase in their lives. In 2014, the Gerharts moved in.
From when they first moved to Lancaster, Paul got to know a lot of Amish. It was these relationships, he says, that helped him learn the area. Traveling to and with them helped him become acclimated with the farm roads, as well as the community as a whole. It would be this sense of community and service that would be the backbone of the gift Lucinda and Daniel, his daughter and son-in-law, would bestow upon that Korengi village.
Throughout the years, the present Paul and Kas would give their kids for Christmas and birthdays would be money. They wanted their kids to be able to get what they like, in whatever size, color or version that would make them most happy. One day, Daniel told Paul that he was going to set these gifts aside, saving them for the day that something really struck him. Over thirty years later, something finally did.
Being in the water business – he owns a company that takes impurities out of water for use by pharmaceutical companies – Daniel has connections with various people and companies, one of which focused on drilling wells to give places in need the clean water they could so greatly use. Through this, Daniel and Lucinda decided to donate one of these wells and dedicate it in Paul and Kas’ names, using the years of Christmas and birthday presents to do so.
Paul and Kas, unaware that this was happening, were first told when Daniel and Lucinda presented them with a framed collage showing the well, with Korengi villagers surrounding it, and the plaque with their names on it. The gift touched them both deeply, knowing how much this well would mean to so many people. Before this, the locals would have to wait for four hours to get water that could wind up making them ill. Now, they were able to get fresh water and be home in 10 minutes. The water from this well would also provide a small form of sustenance for school children whose parents hadn’t provided a meal for them that day. It is true giving, in every sense of the word. For the Gerharts, being connected to something that gives so much to so many is the best present of all.