THE taps are turning, the water’s flowing and Mustapha’s Well Of Life is officially open for business!

The £12,350 solar-powered water pump system, which YOU paid for through our successful Well Of Life appeal, was unveiled to Ridgewood High School’s Project Gambia members amid huge celebrations in the remote African village of Sintet last Friday.

The 4,500 villagers, who have suffered from crippling droughts during the unforgiving dry season, now have access to 20,000 LITRES of fresh water every day – enabling them to grow crops all year round, as well as providing them with safe, clean drinking water.

And a plaque in memory of tragic eight-year-old Mustapha Tamba, who plunged to his death trying to draw water from one of the village’s crude, hand-drawn wells last year, has been mounted at the village farm, where the pioneering system has been built and installed.

The plaque, designed by Rufford Primary pupil Sharna Stevens after we ran a drawing competition with Tesco for primary school children, has taken pride of place on the system’s water tower, which now houses four huge tanks, each capable of holding up to 2,000 litres of water at a time.

It bears the words Mustapha’s Well Of Life – Never Forgotten, and was presented to his mother, Awa Badjie, in a tearful ceremony during the visit by Project Gambia volunteers, who also delivered a 50kg sack of rice for Awa and her family, and some 20 promotional Well Of Life Appeal T-shirts, which had been used during the fundraising campaign.

There are now six standpipes dotted around the 400 square metre farm at Sintet, and a quarter of the land has also been fitted with an irrigation system to help grow crops.

News assistant editor Pete Wallace, who joined Project Gambia as a volunteer in the country last week, said: “I don’t think any of us were quite prepared for what an emotional day the visit to Sintet to see the Well Of Life would be.

“The reception we received when we arrived had to be seen to be believed as the women and children of the village poured out of their homes to sing and dance to the deafening rhythm of African drums and whistles. After the presentation ceremony at the pump had died down and everyone else had returned to continue the celebrations back in the village, one of the village elders brought Mustapha’s mum Awa to see the plaque. She read the epitaph to her son aloud as she traced the words with her finger, fighting back the tears. It was one of the most moving moments of my life.”

Lamin Tamba, a native of Sintet who now works as a tour rep for travel company The Gambia Experience, also giving his spare time free of charge to help Project Gambia volunteers, accompanied the party on their three-hour trek inland to the village.

He said: “None of us can believe the generosity the people of Stourbridge have shown to us, without even knowing who we are.

“The well will bring our village back to life as we will be able to grow food throughout the dry season, and will never again have to go without drinking water for us and our children.

“Our deepest heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who has been involved – we just don’t know what to say.”