CHE North Macedonia is Bringing Clean Water to Two Roma Communities with a Whole Lot of Help from You!

“Nobody ever told us the truth before. Thank you.”

“I thought you were just like all the politicians who come to this place,” the young Roma Muslim father said to me in the village of Tribagremi on the outskirts of Prilep, North Macedonia.  “They all make promises at election time and they never keep them.  They all promised to bring us water but they lied.”  

We too had promised to bring water to the villages of Tribagremi and Meksiko … almost 2 years earlier.  These 2 Roma communities had sprawled up the mountain outside Prilep beyond the reach of city utilities.  For years the only water they had was unsafe-to-drink irrigation water that completely dried up for 3 months in the hot summer.  But after we made our promise to bring water Covid hit and our US work team was grounded from coming to help kick-start the huge project.  

In the meantime, the CHE Macedonia team risked their own health visiting village homes, sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and organizing for the day we could start the water project. And now we were finally back, in May 2021, with a brave crew of workers from North Dakota ready to get to work.

“Look down there.” I pointed the young man to a spot over 500 meters down the hill.  “See the drilling machine there?  They’ve started drilling for clean and sustainable water.  Pretty soon you’re going to see trucks coming up here with materials to build the tank house where we’ll store the water.  If you go over to Meksiko, you’ll see bulldozers moving the garbage dump right now for the water project there.”  Just then the first truck with building supplies came into view.  The young man turned to me, smiled and stuck out his hand to shake mine.  “No one has ever told us the truth before.  Thank you.”

Left to right: Erv VanVeldhuizen, Jimmy Polikarp, Joel Gensler, Mike Strommen and Tevche stand with the tank that will hold ten tons of water. Erv, Joel and Mike were the US work crew.

“Don’t thank me,” I replied, smiling back.  “Thank Jesus who sent us.  He always tells the truth.”  The young man and I joined the US Team, the CHE Macedonia Team and the men from the village to start the building work.

The water project in Meksiko and Tribagremi has proven to be much bigger, more expensive, more complicated and more diplomatically delicate than we imagined when we began.  But the Lord Jesus has moved mountains.  Our US team had to return home after two weeks with the projects barely begun.  The CHE Macedonia team and the village leaders and workers in Tribagremi built the tank house and pump house.  The Prilep city officials have kept their promises to move garbage and grade our build-site in Meksiko and trench the half-kilometer for the water line from the well-site to the storage tank to the water delivery spigots in Tribagremi.  Nafia, a community-minded woman in the village, donated the land for the well and pump house.  

I write this, a 1.5 kilometer trench is being dug from Tribagremi to Meksiko.  A storage tank in Meksiko will be connected to the one in Tribagremi, and soon both villages will have an abundant supply of clean water.  Pastor Alit, one of our CHE workers in Tribagremi reports that over 50 people are now attending his little church!  

It appears that only one mountain still needs to be removed.  We need a final $5,300 to buy the water pump, build the pump house and the storage tank house and connect the electricity in Meksiko.  Residents in both villages will buy water filters, if necessary, and pay for water connections to their own houses.

We all look forward to the day when the two water projects are dedicated and Jimmy Polikarp, Director of CHE North Macedonia, preaches his message on the True Water of Life.  If you would like to send a tax-free donation to finish this water project, contact me ( and I will send you the details on how to do so.

Categories: A Good Story, Gypsy People, Happenings, Photos

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