The Story of Digna

Originally told by Rasa Kent, a former PWW volunteer in Honduras

DignaAfter installing 70 filters, we were exhausted by the end of the 4th day.  We had only the uphill homes remaining and we were ready to call it quits when we met Digna.

Rob, Jeff and I had just hiked up to scope out the difficulty of the trail.  At the most remote home, we were all ready to put it off until the next day until we could devise a sling with which to carry the filter. 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 the mom immediately began to tell me that Digna has had diarrhea for the past 8 days.  Digna was weak, she couldn’t even stand on her own and her skin had no elasticity because of dehydration.

I began telling the mother she should use SODIS (Solar Disinfection) until she can get a filter.  SODIS is when you keep a plastic bottle of water kept in the sun for 24 hours to kill all the bacteria.  Ironically enough, with all the plastic trash in this country this family was too poor to even buy a bottle of coke so there were no bottles to be found.  I rushed over to Rob and Jeff, my ears filled with the sounds of Digna howling, and told them, “We have to install this filter today!”

20 Days Later   Although wobbly, Digna was standing on her own. Maria had taken Digna to a regional clinic for treatment of parasites, amoebas, and a urinary tract infection, most likely caused by poor sanitation and dirty water.

The filters are not a cure but a preventative solution.  Now that Digna’s system 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.  That means children like Digna will have the strength and can get the needed nutrients to develop properly instead of losing them to parasites.  In the long run, this will lead to an increased attendance at school because they are not home sick, they can pay attention and not be suffering discomfort, and hopefully from their improved education they will have better opportunities in life.