Making Clean Water a Priority
Providence and her husband Silas are in their late 40’s and have 7 children between the ages of 20 and 4 years-old. They live in a rural village of Rwanda. Their community has access to many lakes, but very little access to clean drinking water.
Providence and Silas are known in their community for making clean water a priority.
They knew that drinking untreated water would make them sick. So while they would fetch their water from the lake, Providence always prioritized buying firewood to boil their water before using it. She would try to have two 5-liter jerrycans with clean water available at all times. These 10-liters of water would be expected to last her family of 9 people for two days.
It was a huge effort for her to keep up with boiling water for her family. Buying water from the store is expensive. But, so is the firewood needed to cook food and boil their water. In fact, the expense of firewood is the reason that most of her neighbors don’t bother to boil their water.
Providence told us, “My husband cannot drink water that is not clean. When he would find the water finished, he would go buy water from stores. That money could be used to buy firewood or something else, but he would buy that water to avoid drinking lake water.” She explained to us that “the little amount of water he would buy for 6 cents would not even be enough to last a day.”
Silas and Providence tried to economize and access enough clean water for their family. They hired someone to purchase a 25-liter jerry can from a clean water source a distance from their home. While that water could be stretched to last 3 days for their family, it was an expensive and unsustainable solution to their problem.
Then, local volunteers selected their family to receive a SAM3 Household Filter. The family was very happy with their filter, because it minimized all of the expenses of accessing clean water. Now they are able to fetch and filter water from the lake, and continue to advocate for clean water with their neighbors.
When their neighbors want to drink some clean water, they are eager to share. Providence is doing her best to share not only water, but also information about the importance of clean water. She wants to educate her neighbors so that they understand the harm in drinking dirty water.
Providence shared with us some of the persistent beliefs that she knows her neighbors hold – that the cleanest water available is from the lake, that boiled water smells and tastes funny. Previously, Providence believed these things too. “What changed my mindset was that my husband would not dare drink water that is not treated. He would tell us why we need to drink clean water.” In the end, she believes that these neighbors will better understand the importance of clean water once they see the transformation clean water brings to their lives.