Coffee with John and Viviannah in Uganda

Whether you prefer cold brew with almond milk, the fall-inspired flavors of pumpkin spice, or plain black coffee, many of us drink coffee almost every day. But we usually don’t take a moment to consider where our favorite beverage came from or remember the people who grew it.

One of the most unforgettable experiences I’ve had visiting communities Living Water serves alongside was walking through coffee fields with John and Viviannah—farmers from southwestern Uganda.

Viviannah harvesting coffee in southwestern Uganda

You may have heard this couple’s moving story in Living Water’s latest video. John and Viviannah have faced unimaginable heartbreak—losing two beloved children to their country’s deadly water crisis. Eventually, their crops dried up from a lack of water access, and they lost hope for a brighter future for their family.

When I met John and Viviannah, our marketing and communications team was visiting the Ruhaama WASH (water access, sanitation, and hygiene) Program Area in Uganda—Living Water’s first multi-year commitment in a geographically focused area.

Every aspect of John and Viviannah’s lives are different after receiving safe drinking water access in 2016. I don’t think I’ve heard a story that better reflects the full depth of Living Water’s work than theirs.

John waters his coffee plants in southwestern Uganda

We visited the gravity-flow complex water system that carries water from the hills above their home to their community and many others in the surrounding area. Fetching water used to be difficult and dangerous. Now John and Viviannah walk two minutes to a tap stand, where they have all the water they need for their family and their farm.

I watched them spray their coffee plants with water and joined them in picking the bright red coffee cherries. You might not know that coffee beans are actually held within these cherries and are originally pale in color until they are roasted and ground into our morning pick-me-up.

While it’s easy to understand the phenomenal impact safe water has on health, this life-giving resource also empowers communities socially and economically. With the money they earn from selling coffee, John and Viviannah can finally afford to pay their children’s school fees. Their success has blessed their neighbors as well: today they employ seven women from their community.

Viviannah and John hold coffee cherries in southwestern Uganda

On the front of the motorcycle John rides into town to sell coffee or produce, he has a sign that says “Jesus accomplished it all”—written in the local language. The gift of safe drinking water and the love of God have helped end John and Viviannah’s suffering and given their family new life.

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