Mukamana Sada gathers water for her family from the swamp that borders her small gardens. They use the water not only at their home, but also to irrigate their gardens. Sada is a 56-year-old widow who lives with her two children and four grandchildren in the Gashora sector of Rwanda.
When asked, Sada told our volunteers that her family had never bothered to boil their water before use. It was too expensive and took too much time. Sada’s family has often struggled to have enough food to eat, and so when deciding whether or not to purchase food or fuel to boil their water, she always chose food. So, her family drank swampy water which often made Sada and her children sick with diarrhea, worms, and other illnesses.
Sada estimates that she would spend 5,000 Rwandan Francs every month on medicines for her family and the children had been diagnosed with chronic allergies and were always on some kind of medication. They would go to the clinic multiple times each month and the expense of treating all of these illnesses meant her family would go hungry or be too weak and sick to go to work or to school. When the children did manage to get to school, they received failing grades since they had missed exams and instruction.
Recently, a nearby Pastor from the Anglican Church came to Sada’s home. This wasn’t a usual occurrence, since Sada and her family are Muslim. The Pastor informed her that her family had been selected to receive a water filter through the Water Project.
Sada received training on how to use and maintain the Slow Sand Filter, given instruction on handwashing and personal hygiene, and asked to share the filter with two neighbor families who had not been selected to receive a household filter. She was excited and welcomed the idea of sharing it with two of her neighbors, Sada told her children and grandchildren that this would be good for the whole family.
They have had their filter for six months now, and the changes it has brought are significant. In particular, their health has improved greatly; their trips to the clinic have been reduced to only one trip every few months – and these trips have been to treat wounds or get eye care.
Today, Sada and her family enjoy drinking clean water together. The young ones have small two-liter jerrycans which they take to school filled with clean water to share with their friends. Her children are healthy because of drinking clean water, their school attendance is now regular and their performance in class has improved in this short time of drinking clean water.
When you make dirty water clean for a vulnerable family, you empower them to change their lives. Starting with improved health, access to clean water opens doors for increased economic opportunities and makes attending school possible for kids who were missing school due to sickness. Access to clean water is the first step towards a better future.