A mother and baby visited a doctor because of the baby’s constant diarrhea. The doctor recommended giving the baby only Culligan (treated) water. Their family lived far from Gonaives, Haiti – the nearest city. To fetch clean water, her husband needed to travel all the way to Gonaives to purchase a jar (5 gallons) of water. The trip took 5 hours. The travel cost for a motorcycle taxi and a Tap-Tap (local bus) was US$5.00 and the Culligan water US$1.50. The first time he went, he also needed to purchase a Culligan jar – another US$6.25. Months later they heard about the Pure Water for the World program and visited me in order to get a biosand filter. When we delivered that filter we had to walk up the mountain for about an hour with the biosand filter strapped to a horse. Months later we did a site inspection and the family was so happy with their biosand filter. It provided safe drinking water, and saved them a lot of money and travel time.
Reported by Roman Cipus, Haiti
After installing 70 filters in our first community, we were exhausted by the end of the fourth day. The uphill homes dotting the community still remained, and we were ready to call it quits when we met Digna.
Rob, Jeff and I hiked up to one of these mountaintop houses to scope out the trail. Arriving at the house, we were all ready to put it off until the next day, so we could create a proper sling to carry the filters. As I was speaking to Maria, a 39-year old mother of 11 children, I noticed the huge eyes of her youngest daughter. I commented about how frail she looked, and Maria immediately began to tell me that her daughter, Digna, had experienced diarrhea for the past 8 days. Dinga was so weak, she couldn’t even stand on her own, and her skin had no elasticity because of dehydration.
I began telling Maria she should use SODIS (Solar Disinfection) until she can get a filter. (SODIS can kill all the bacteria in a bottle of water if it is kept in direct sunlight for 24 hours). But this family was too poor to even buy a bottle of coke, so there were no bottles to be found. The sounds of Digna’s howling filled my ears, and I rushed over to Rob and Jeff and burst out, “We have to install this filter today!” Before I turned around to talk more with Maria, her boys were already looking for sticks to make a stretcher. By the time I fetched our buckets and my co-worker, Enelida, the boys had already rounded up an army of help and had the filter harnessed to a stretcher.
The trail was not really a trail at all, but a stream with a lot of big rocks. The best thing about this whole situation was to see all the people who pitched in to help bring this filter to the family in need. This family could not afford to wait another week. We arrived at their home at the top of the hill to see Maria beaming at us, carrying her new filter. Enelida and I started installing the filter right away with our little army of helpers watching everything. I almost felt like we were in an operating room: “Water…We need more water!” “Bucket…dump this bucket!” We finished the job and said we’d return in three weeks with the water jugs and to check up on how Digna was doing.
20 Days Later…
Upon returning to El Recreo, I was very pleased to see Digna wobbling on her own when I entered their house. Digna’s mother was able to make the trip with her daughter to the health clinic and get the medication Digna needed to save her life. The child had parasites, amoebas, and a urinary tract infection, most likely all caused by poor sanitation and dirty water.
These filters are not a cure, but a preventative solution. Now that Digna’s body has been cleared of parasites and infection, the filter (along with the health education her mother received) will reduce and potentially eliminate instances of gastro-intestinal illnesses. This means children like Digna can get the needed nutrients in order to develop properly and become strong, instead of losing them to parasites. In the long run, this will lead to an increased attendance at school, because the children will not be sick at home. And hopefully, from their improved education, they will have better opportunities in life.
Reported by Rasa Siminkas Kent, Volunteer
Yerlin Edith, a 10-year-old girl from the village of Rio Abajo in Honduras, used to stay home from school several days at a time, crying from the pain in her stomach and hoping it would pass. She couldn’t eat anything, and she only had the contaminated water to drink. Shortly after, her family received a filter along with our parasitic treatment. Edith smiles now, and says she hasn’t been sick in nine months and no longer misses school.
Reported by Ken Grabeau
A man standing on his front porch with his shy, smiling daughter standing behind him explained with a beaming face how proud he was of his filter and what it meant to him and his family. He explained that his daughter had been diagnosed with a kidney disease and was told that she was going to die. Finally, he heard about the filters that were being put into a neighboring community, and he asked about a filter for his family and for those in his village. Within months of his family having clean, safe drinking water, his daughter’s health problems disappeared, and she can be seen now smiling and playfully clinging to his leg. Her kidney disease was cured by the filtered water which a local village medicine woman says is the best medicine.
Reported by Bill Meub
According to a nurse in charge of the health center for the 300-home community of San Matais, Honduras, diarrhea was by far the number one malady that the health center treated prior to the filters being installed. She now says water-related cases of diarrhea are very rare: “The parents that I talk with all tell me that their children do not get sick anymore. The bottom line is the Pure Water program works.”
Reported by Byron Miller
In the community of Lomas Limpia, Honduras, they have a water system that is made up of a series of pipes collecting surface water from springs. The water is contaminated and carries a lot of sediment. Luis, an officer of the community water board, and his wife Gravero Espinal, explained that their two young girls had regular problems with their kidneys, as well as infections, and abdominal pain. Gravero also had infections in her kidneys, and had to go to the hospital regularly, but the tests would not reveal what the problem was. Once the filters were brought into the community to treat the water and people had been educated on its handling and use, the children’s problems disappeared and Gravero has not had any more symptoms. The water does not have any sediment and it even tastes better.
Reported by Ramon Fuentes
From the community of Guyacan, Honduras, we learned that the approximate annual costs for a family getting treatment for illnesses related to drinking bad water is at least 3000 lempira a year. Since the installation of the water filters, people have saved this money, so it can be used for other purposes. People also said that the water color changed from brown to almost perfectly clear. Many exclaimed that the project was “bonito” (beautiful).
Reported by Tristam Johnson
In the village of La Concepcion, Honduras, lives a small family. Suyapa Gudal, the young mother, was coping with two of the young children (ages 6 and 9) being ill. Last year, every 2-3 months there were health problems. Sometimes the local health center had medicines to resolve the problems, but sometimes they didn’t. So, she would have to take her two children to Danli to get treatment. A trip to Danli from La Concepcion costs 30 lempiras for the bus and takes 3 hours of travel time.
Last year, her oldest child missed more than 10% of the school year. The children like school and don’t want to miss it. Since the installation of the filter and parasitic treatment, she has seen marked physical growth from her children. The kids are no longer malnourished, suffering from parasites, or dealing with diarrhea. There are now fewer illnesses, and the house is a happier place.
Reported by Tristam Johnson
At a meeting at the school in San Geronimo, Honduras, attended by eight women and two men, I asked how much the people in the village now valued their filters. I asked, “How much would you sell your filters for?” At first, there was silence as they thought that they had to sell the filters back and didn’t want to sell them at any price. When they understood the nature of my question, they agreed that 1000 lempira (10 times the price they paid) would be a fair value, but they all agreed that they would then go and buy a new filter with the money that they made. These women said their children respect the purpose of the filter and recognize that the complete filter system (collection bucket and water storage container) is what provides them with reliable, clean, safe drinking water.
The filters have substantially improved the health of the families in the village. According to these women, the thorough training process was necessary so they could learn to protect their health. These women were very satisfied with the educational efforts made to promote the project.
Reported by Ramon Fuentes