SARAWAK, Malaysia — Fifteen Malaysian villages in the outlying Simunjan Junction area of Sarawak now have a reliable supply of clean water, thanks to help from Latter-day Saint Charities, a humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Using supplies provided by Latter-day Saint Charities, some 100 villagers, young and old, worked together to enlarge a dam and lay a three-inch pipeline to communities in this area, all within just a few months’ time.

Village leaders turn on the new tap to their new water supply. © 2007 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

“It is easy to take clean water for granted,” said George Mak, a Church spokesman based in Hong Kong who has witnessed many Mormon projects throughout Asia. “But when a dam or well or some other supply is brought to a village — adults, children — it’s an emotional thing to see.”

When clean water was available in the past, it was often limited in quantity and only to be found several miles away. This would take a person away from family and work, and children away from their classes, for hours at a time.

Humanitarian projects sponsored by the Church encourage participation by locals where possible. Emphasis is placed on helping people to help themselves and to become more self-reliant.

At a ceremony to mark the completion of the project, village leader Chief Augustine expressed gratitude to all who had brought fresh water to his people: “Only heaven knows how we will be able to say thank you.” Other villagers and guests spoke at the ceremony, including a member of the Malaysian Federal Parliament, Jimmy Donald.

The ceremony was held near the dam where the pipeline starts. Normally this area is reached by climbing very rugged terrain, but the villagers had cut and dug a trail through the jungle. This included making several hand-lashed bamboo bridges across the treacherous ravines for the benefit of visitors. At the conclusion of the ceremony, officials turned on the valve, allowing water to flow into the small holding reservoir.

This article was written by the LDS Newsroom of LDS.org.