The Joy of Clean Water, In Their Own Words

IMG_1052In most of the impoverished places where World Concern works, meeting needs starts with water. Why? Because when a mom is trying to keep her child alive, nothing else matters.

Through your gifts to provide clean water, you are the hands and feet of Jesus to these moms, meeting this critical need and opening the way for lasting transformation to take place. As you read the stories below, I hope you know how much your gift matters!

One Mom’s Story of Survival

War War knows her children are alive today because of the water you provided. For the first few years of her babies’ lives, War War did what all the moms in her village did – she retrieved water by the bucketful from the mucky, still water that sat in the pond in their village.

3 - Dirty Ponds, Hunger - Yaw Won Lay, Chaung Tar Yar (306 of 391) - low resThe water made them sick. At the same time her younger son became ill with severe diarrhea, War War herself got sick. With the help of friends and family, they eventually made the four-hour boat ride to the nearest hospital where they were treated for water-borne diseases.

In and out of consciousness, alone and fearful for her son’s life, War War learned it was the dirty water she had been giving her son that caused his sickness. She was devastated.
Thankfully, both survived. Because of you, the village now has clean water, and families like War War’s have learned the importance of good hygiene and sanitation to stay healthy.

War War’s son is now happy and healthy!

Clean Water Changed Mohamad’s Life and Future

Clean water is changing the lives of students like 14-year-old Mohamad – helping him stay healthy and focused in school. Mohamad’s school in Somaliland (Northern Somalia) now has a tank that captures rainwater, providing plenty of fresh, clean drinking water for the students.

“Before, we didn’t have any water to drink while we were at school. We would feel thirsty, but we could not get anything to drink until we went home,” explained Mohamad.

The school now has a 6,600-gallon tank that captures rainwater through a gutter system on the roof, providing abundant clean water for students to drink and wash their hands with at school.
“Now it’s easier to learn because we have water,” said the grateful teen. “Now we are healthy.”

The Life-Changing Impact of Berkads

Many families in Somaliland now have clean water from berkads. Berkads are large concrete tanks that channel and store rainwater. With a berkad, one day of heavy rain can provide enough clean, fresh drinking water for an entire community for months. Here’s what a few people have to say about the impact of these berkads:

“Before the berkad was built, there was not enough water. We were going so far to gather water. Now that World Concern rehabilitated this berkad, it is good. When it rains, the berkad fills up and we save it for use when our water supply is low.” Asha, 48, mom of three

 

“Before the berkad was built, there was not enough water. We were going so far to gather water. Now that World Concern rehabilitated this berkad, it is good. When it rains, the berkad fills up and we save it for use when our water supply is low.”
– Asha, 48, mom of three

 

“In school we learned about hygiene—to wash our hands before we eat and to wear shoes when going to the toilets. It is good to do these things because if you don’t wash your hands and then you eat something, you will probably get a disease.” - Sahra, 12, student in grade 2

 

“In school we learned about hygiene—to wash our hands before we eat and to wear shoes when going to the toilets. It is good to do these things because if you don’t wash your hands and then you eat something, you will probably get a disease.”
– Sahra, 12, student in grade 2

 

“Before these berkads, we did not have enough water in our village. When the water ran out, we would have to travel three hours by foot to the mountains in order to gather water. These berkads provide us enough water. They also benefit us as we earn income to help build them. We very much appreciate the berkads because we now have enough water to cover our needs.”
– Sahra, 30, mom of three

The stories above show just how much your gifts matter. Clean water not only saves and transforms lives, but also brings immeasurable joy to families in need.

 

How One Day of Rain Can Change Everything

There are some places in this world that are difficult places to live. The desert of Northern Somalia (Somaliland) is one of those places. The only thing interrupting the endless view of sand, rocks, and tumbleweeds is an occasional range of low mountains along the horizon. In the middle of the desert, clusters of homes comprise tiny villages. Once a week, the women from these towns walk for an entire day to the hills to get water—the only source of clean water for miles.

“It is so far,” explained Shamse, a young mom who lives here in the desert. “I walk from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and still only return with a few jerry cans – whatever I can manage to carry.”

Moms in Somalia must walk long distances through the desert to collect water.
Moms in Somalia must walk long distances through the desert to collect water.

The water she manages to bring home last only a few days. When the jerry cans run out, Shamse and her children are forced to drink salty, contaminated water from a nearby hole in the ground. “It makes us sick,” she said.

Many children in this community have died from diarrhea and other water-borne diseases. “As a mother, I feel so sad,” she said. “But there is no doctor here when the children get sick.”

Shamse’s conflict depicts the life-or-death dilemma that many others in the community face every day. The nearest access to clean water is a long and arduous day’s journey away, but local water sources are contaminated and unsuitable for human consumption. It’s a threat that fills Shamse with dread and exhausts her even before she rises from her sleeping mat.

But there is a solution, and it starts with a gift from above — rainwater.

In this region, it rains as little as two or three days a year. But when it does, it rains hard—often causing flooding, as the dry desert ground cannot absorb so much water all at once. Check out this video clip of a flash flood in Somaliland.

We help communities build large underground water storage tanks called berkads. These berkads collect, channel, and filter torrents of rainwater, capturing it for use between rains. The result of just one day of rain: enough clean, fresh drinking water for an entire community for months. In fact, one berkad can hold up to 80,000 gallons of water – that’s enough water not just for drinking, but also for growing crops and keeping livestock healthy and alive.

Berkads like this one channel and filter rainwater, storing it for months of use.
Women draw water from a berkad.
Women draw water from a berkad.

With berkads, moms like Shamse have access to clean drinking water that is safe for their children and close to home. Some women are even able to earn income from selling the water if a berkad is built near their home.

Along with this life-saving source of  water, we provide hygiene training and improved sanitation (latrines and toilets), leading to better health for families in need.

You can help mothers provide clean water to their children.
You can help mothers provide clean water to their children.

We’ve seen this system work in other communities in the region, but there are many more families waiting for clean water. You can be a part of this and help needy communities build berkads and other sources of water — bringing help and hope to Shamse and others.

Providing clean water for families is the first step to move beyond barely surviving, and toward lasting change. Your gift saves lives and transforms communities long-term. In addition, your year-end gift by Dec. 31 will be matched, dollar for dollar, providing clean, life-saving water to twice as many children and families.

Getting ahead of the cholera outbreak in Haiti

Haiti staff are trained in proper handwashing.
Haiti field agents were trained this week in cholera prevention techniques, such as hand washing. They are sharing this information with people in their communities.

With several cases of cholera being reported in the city of Port-au-Prince, World Concern is stepping up our response to the disease spreading by collecting supplies for hygiene kits and preparing to distribute these to more than 30,000 people. The kits will be assembled and distributed within the next few days to people we serve through our HIV and AIDS programs in rural areas, and to the earthquake victims we’re working with in the Delmas neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.

World Concern President Dave Eller is concerned that if cholera becomes an epidemic in Port-au-Prince, it will be a problem for a very long time. He feels strongly that we need to help those we’re currently serving.

“It’s the responsible thing to do, to protect the people who God has given us to walk alongside,” he said. “This is one more tragedy they may have to endure. I wish that we were in a place to have a response beyond these people, but for now, they’ve been given into our care. They trust us.”

The hygiene kits will include:

  • Water purification tablets
  • Soap
  • Oral rehydration packets

We’re estimating we’ll need to spend a minimum of $45,000 to get these kits and information in the hands of Haitian families, but it could cost up to $80,000.

We know that cholera spreads easily in crowded conditions with poor sanitation, and that pretty much describes the situation in Port-au-Prince, where hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors are living in tent communities.

Supplies are being gathered to assemble hygiene kits that will be distributed to people we're working with in Haiti.
Supplies are being gathered to assemble hygiene kits that will be distributed to people we're working with in Haiti.

World Concern has responded with carefully planned prevention strategies: training our field staff about the disease, its symptoms, how it spreads, and ways to improve hygiene to stay healthy. They, in turn, are passing that information along to people we work with. Now, that information will come with supplies to help keep families healthy.

If you’d like to donate to the Haiti cholera response, please click here.

World Water Day – A Critical Humanitarian Need

High tension as communities in Haiti need clean water in the days after the 2010 earthquake. A reminder of the humanitarian aid needed for World Water Day.
High tension as communities in Haiti need clean water in the days after the 2010 earthquake. A reminder of the humanitarian aid needed for World Water Day.

In the hours after the Haiti earthquake, World Concern took an inventory of the basic needs facing people who had lost everything. Food, water and shelter were the top three. But when it came right down to it, water was the single greatest need. Within a few days, people would be fighting for their lives – desperate for a drink.

When I visited Port-au-Prince a week after the quake, one of the most tense moments I encountered was a fight about water. People wanted it, and we were trying to meet the need as best we can. But the need was too great. Water truly equals life and survival.

Today is World Water Day. If you have the opportunity to run the tap and receive clean water today, consider yourself privileged. One in six humans have to live using an unclean source for drinking water. It means they walk miles to get a drink, and waterborne diseases like typhoid and intestinal parasites become a part of their lives.

In post-earthquake Haiti, broken sewage lines intermingled with water lines, making the water dangerous to drink. In places where we work in Africa, poor sanitation leads to contaminated water sources. This contaminated water leads to disease and parasites, which slows learning, stunts growth and prematurely kills millions of people.

Only though community hygiene education and improved water sources are we able to change the equation. At first, it may be through an emergency supply of bottled water, like in Haiti after the earthquake. Longer-term, our humanitarian aid may include improving water systems, or even inventing them entirely, as we do in dozens of poor communities throughout the world.

For this World Water Day, you can change the life of someone in desperate need, by digging a hand-dug well for $300, to benefit several families, or investing in a machine-drilled well. A share is $100, the entire well is $3,000. It will will transform an entire village. (And with grants we get a 5:1 match on machine drilled wells in Kenya!)

So here’s to good health, and safe water – even to families in Haiti and in other hurting places around the world.

Water wells in Kenya installed by humanitarian organization World Concern provide hope to communities in Kenya suffering from water-borne disases. World Water Day brings awareness to the problem.
Water wells in Kenya installed by humanitarian organization World Concern provide hope to communities in Kenya suffering from water-borne disases. World Water Day brings awareness to the problem.