As we celebrate Thanksgiving in the U.S. this week, we went into our story vault to help us remember why we are thankful for clean water.
Mary’s world is small. At age 74, she is bent over from years of field work and walks with assistance of a walking stick. She needs help from someone to lift her off her mat, where she spends her day. And steady her as she walks from her mat to her house. She relies heavily on her sixteen-year-old grandson. He is her only living family member, most of her family died in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Her grandson works as a day laborer in the fields leaving Mary alone most of the day.
Her home, built out of clay bricks, has a rusting tin roof, a dirt floor, and almost no furniture. The river is a 40 minute walk from her house and getting fresh water is a real challenge. Thankfully, Mary and her grandson have neighbors who are willing to help meet Mary’s needs. They help her up from the mat on their dirt floor that is her bed, and bring her to the outhouse in the morning. If her grandson comes in late from the field the neighbors reverse the order in the evening.
Mary has trouble moving without help. As a result, Mary suffered from sores on her skin. These sores developed because she could not clean herself after the frequent diarrhea she had from drinking dirty river water.
Mary is one of the most vulnerable people we have met in Rwanda.
And, in 2015, volunteers chose Mary to receive a SAM3 Community Filter. In exchange for using her filter, the neighbors will make a trip each day down to the river and fetch a jerry can of water for Mary and her grandson to filter for their own use. And while they wait for the water to go through the filter, they help her with small household chores, pick beans in her small garden plot, and catch Mary up with news from the neighborhood and from her church. Now that she is drinking clean water, she no long suffers with chronic diarrhea. Her skin has healed, and her overall health has improved.