'Flooded with joy'

“I am an Egyptian, which means I am African,” Nermine said. “It broke my heart to see the suffering of my people. I am now flooded with joy to see the transformation of their lives through clean water and the sharing of God’s living waters.”

By Laurie Robinson

When Nermine Khouzam Rubin was a child in Egypt, her father asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. “Queen of the world,” she replied. After all, she thought, if she were queen, she could help save the world. 

The adult Nermine knows she will never be queen. But after consecrating herself in 2014 to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of All Saints and Mother of all God’s children, she allowed herself to be Our Lady’s instrument by launching Water 4 Mercy.

“That consecration changed me from only going through the motions of being Catholic, to becoming Catholic in my heart by doing something to share God’s love and hope in practical ways,” Nermine recalled from her home in Clearwater, Florida. 

Dignifying work
In 2014, Nermine traveled to Tanzania to volunteer in an orphanage with her daughter, Samantha, followed by a Divine Mercy pilgrimage in 2016 to Poland. It was a second trip with Samantha in 2017 to the rural village of Dodoma that sparked Nermine’s passion to bring wholeness as well as holiness to families. She perceived they were not only hungry and thirsty for physical sustenance; they also longed for dignifying work that could provide for their loved ones, followed by the revitalizing energies needed for growing spiritually. 

“I saw men sitting around, looking hopeless and numbing themselves in the middle of the day,” Nermine recalled. “It haunted me. When I returned home, I prayed about that.” 

She began exploring how one could provide a hand up rather than a handout. Through Divine Providence, she learned and read about Israel’s world-renowned water solutions that she felt drawn to use. 

The long term
“I wanted to develop something in which all funds would be channeled to the projects and where the local people themselves would help to sustain the projects long-term,” she said. “We know that many projects crash and burn because they lack integrity and sustainability.” 

Since 2018, the non-profit has been providing clean water, sustainable agriculture, and native educational initiatives throughout a network of villages in drought-stricken Dodoma, Tanzania. 

Before Water 4 Mercy, villagers often walked for hours to find dirty and disease-producing water; and many drank animal blood to quench their thirst. Crops died for lack of adequate irrigation and agricultural practices. Children were too listless to attend school, and communities broke down. 

Water 4 Mercy has forged an implementation team that is transforming the desolate daily grind into a thriving, greening cycle of hope. This “trinitarian” partnership includes Innovation: Africa (remotely-monitored solar-powered water wells); CultivAid (innovative Israeli-developed irrigation and agricultural solution systems); and Don Bosco Technical Institutes (sharing Israeli-developed knowledge locally through education). The triad is implementing clean-water wells, developing irrigation systems, and training locals to attain agrarian success. 

The results are literally life-changing. Today, thousands of Tanzanians are receiving adequate hydration and nutrition, as well as generating family income through the sale of lavish produce and increasing their barnyard stock. In one shining example, trained farmers are supplying an established Dodoma winery from their now-thriving vineyards.

Nermine’s generosity is paying all the overhead expenses, freeing 100 percent of charitable donations to flow into the projects. Well installation, initially costing $50,000, costs $65,000 today. An agricultural training/irrigation system costs $35,000. 

Spiritual needs
In July, Nermine organized a donor trip to Tanzania. The pilgrims witnessed the turning on of faucets of a new well they helped fund in the village of Iyoyo. There is no greater joy, Nermine said, than watching gleeful villages celebrate the first gushes of crystal-clear water filling their hands and buckets. 

“Something so basic that we often take for granted, water!” she said. 

People flock to her to say Asante, the Swahili word for thank you. “I tell them not to thank me, but to thank Mungu, the Swahili word for God,” she said. 

Nermine, in partnership with the Marian Fathers in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, gifts villagers with Divine Mercy prayer cards, written in Swahili. She eventually hopes to translate 33 Days to Morning Glory into Swahili. 

She has also inspired Tanzanian friends to renew their Catholic faith, to return to the Church and to desire the formation of holy marriages. 

“I am an Egyptian, which means I am African,” she said. “It broke my heart to see the suffering of my people. I am now flooded with joy to see the transformation of their lives through clean water and the sharing of God’s living waters.”

To learn more about Water 4 Mercy, visit the website, Water4Mercy.org
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