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A day in the life of a Fields of Life Driller

My name is Kizito Olima, I am a driller currently stationed in Karamoja sub region, Northern Uganda. I have been drilling since 2011, so you could say I am a seasoned driller, but I haven’t always been that way.

When I first joined, everything was so difficult for me; carrying gravel and machinery, sleeping in a tent and being in new places all the time. Drilling was hard work. To make matters worse, I was in the Kole district, Northern Uganda, where the wells kept collapsing and it was such a struggle for me.

Now, however, I have adjusted. In fact, I really love the actual drilling, when I just sit around my body aches a lot, but when I am drilling I feel alive.

My 8 to 5

A driller’s day is not predictable. Some times it will run from 8am to 5pm and some times from 7am to 10pm, depending on the soil formation, weather and state of equipment.

Today we were servicing the equipment, therefore, my day consisted of a lot of driving to the service point and back to the sleeping grounds.

On other days, the team start by clearing the identified borehole site, then we talk to the local community about the planned well. Once we have site clearance we start building the tent which we will be our home for the next few days, weeks or months. We then set the machines and start drilling.

When we find water, we will test pump for the yield. This is important as it helps to determine whether the water is sufficient and able to sustain the community. We also send a test sample of the water to the government laboratories to ensure it is fit for human consumption. Once we receive certification we construct the borehole.

On average, it takes 20 days to finish a well; this is because drilling takes four to five days, as long as the hole does not collapse, government certification takes one week, installation one day and then seven days for the concrete to dry.

My best days

It is not every day that one gets to see the immediate fruit of their work, therefore, the well commissioning has become a very exciting part of my job.

People who have had no water, dirty water, water shared with animals, or walked for miles to fetch unsafe water, rejoice at the sight of clean, protected and free water within reach.

In many of the communities, villagers have brought chickens, goats, and food, the little that they have, as a sign of their immense appreciation. Seeing this makes my job worthwhile.

My worst days

These have to be when we hit dry wells. The feeling is terrible!

What one needs to be a driller

Physical strength! There is a lot of manual work involved, one must be strong and fit.

Secondly, quick thinking and flexibility are key, the soil formations are different at each location so it is important to be able to make good and quick decisions.

Finally, one must be teachable, there is a lot to learn in the field, new places and new lessons. Actually that’s how I got this job. Before this I was a shop keeper near the place where Fields of Life used to collect gravel. I used to help the staff load the gravel onto the trucks and always inquired about job opportunities. When the opportunity came I applied.

There is nothing like being part of the team that brings water and life to people who really need it.

A day in the life of a driller