This week, we’re inviting you to read this story to your kids about one boy’s daily struggle for water. We hope it inspires them to consider their own water situation and how they can practice gratitude in their own life.
José Dantas Souza is a typical Brazilian kid—in fact, he’s probably similar to you in many ways too. He likes playing soccer with his friends. They also go for adventures in the nearby rocky hills. José enjoys spending time with his family as well. But in a big way, José’s life might be much different from yours. José lives in the village of Catuca in the northeastern part of Brazil, and this area is very dry—so dry that they often don’t have water.
José’s house has a big blue water tank next to it. Sometimes a truck comes and fills his family’s tank with water, but this truck may not return for a long time. If it rains, José’s house has special pipes that carry the water off the roof and into his tank. But it doesn’t rain in Catuca for much of the year. There is a lake four miles away, but it is a long walk down a steep mountain, and it’s too hard coming back up carrying the heavy water.
But there is one place nearby where José can find water. Up the mountain from his house, there is a pile of large rocks with an opening. If José climbs down into the hole, he can find a little bit of water there. Brazilians call this small amount of water coming out of the earth a “cacimba.” Because this is one of the only places to get water, sometimes people line up at this cacimba early in the morning when it is still dark.
Today, José is heading up the mountain to collect some water from the cacimba. His family already has water for the day, but he needs a little bit more. He hikes up the mountain carrying a small water bottle and waves to his neighbors along the dusty road that winds up the mountain from his house. He walks through the soccer field; because there is no rain, the field is mostly dirt.
When José reaches the top of a hill near the highest point of the mountain, he takes a steep path to the right that leads down to the cacimba. In his flip-flop sandals (called “havaianas” in Brazil) he hops down several rocks to reach the water in the dark hole below. As he scoops water from the hole using a container he found on the ground, José can see the brown, muddy water rising higher in his bottle each time he pours. This water isn’t clear at all. It is very dirty. This water could have a sickness in it. But since José and his village don’t have any other options, many times they have to drink it. The entire village wishes they could have fresh, clean water—but how?
Some time later, José and his friends heard about a man from Maranatha who visited his church, the Catuca Seventh-day Adventist Church. The man’s name was Marcos, and he wanted to drill a well at the church for the entire community to use. That was great news! At first, José was excited, then his face became serious. This wouldn’t be the first time someone drilled a well in Catuca. There was another well in the village, but the water didn’t reach all the way to the top of the mountain where the well was at. It was dry. The same thing might happen to this new well!
On the day the well-drilling crew arrived, José was nervous. He and his friends raced toward the church when they heard the large drilling rig motoring up the narrow road past his house. As the crew prepared the rig for drilling, José settled into the shade of some trees next to the church.
RAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT! There was a loud noise when the rig began to pound away at the ground. Dust began swirling up where the arm was working. He covered his ears and looked at his friends. This was exciting! They might finally have clean water to drink right here at the church. But again, José frowned as questions entered his mind. Would there be any water under the ground here? They were so high up on the mountain. And, if they found water, would it be sweet? Sometimes when a drilling crew hits water, it is salty, like drinking ocean water.
José continued to watch the drilling. The rig was still making the loud RAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT sound. This went on for quite some time. Finally, realizing this could take all day, José headed home for a while. He tried to think of other things, but he just couldn’t keep his mind off the drilling. Later that day, José returned to the church to watch. It wasn’t that exciting, but he was nervous to find out if they would hit water. It was still just dust spraying up from the hole. After watching for some time, José noticed that the dust was becoming wet dirt. Then, there was lots of talking and shouting among the workers. They found water! And it was sweet. José was so happy! He and his family, and the entire town would have clean water, whenever they needed it.
Every time José walks past his church now, he smiles. Neighbors come here every day to collect water and they are so thankful. They talk, the children play, and there is even a new community vegetable garden that is watered from the well. Sometimes, José still walks past the path that leads to the cacimba. He is reminded of the big problems he and his family used to face without clean water. He says a prayer of thanks to God for the clean water and for Maranatha. José is grateful.
Watch the video of José collecting water from the cacimba in Catuca.
- José’s big water problem was solved! Have you faced a problem that turned out OK? How did you feel when it was solved?
- Sometimes our problems make it seem like there’s more bad than good happening in our life. But these are the moments where it’s especially important to be grateful. Philippians 4:6 says
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Even when we’re worried, we can ask God to help and be thankful at the same time. What are you thankful for today?
- Thank God for all the good things in your life.
- Ask kids what they would add to the prayer list.
Did You Know?
- In many countries where Maranatha drills water wells, a hand pump is used to push the water out. People use their arms to push the handle down, bringing water to the spout. But in Brazil, the crew installs small machines called electric pumps that use electricity to push the water up from the ground. It is then moved into big water tanks, just like José’s, where it can be let out with a faucet.