"That water will make you sick!"

January 2, 2014

by Kaitlyn McDonald, Samaritan’s Purse Intern

Samaritan’s Purse intern Kaitlyn shares the hopeful possibility of BioSand Water Filters in a Ugandan community

Last week, I visited Nora, a village in Uganda, with my coworker Richard. As we shared the benefits of using BioSand Water Filters (BSFs) to help remove harmful bacteria from water, I had an opportunity to converse with several locals.

One conversation stood out to me. As I spoke with a Muje (a respectful title for elderly men), he told me:

“It is good that you [Samaritan’s Purse] have come to help us. No, not help…rescue. You have come to rescue us. Our water source is quite bad, and if it wasn’t for you, many of us would die.”  

I was caught off guard by the Muje’s dramatic statement. But before I could respond, the Muje’s younger brother, George, offered to show me and my coworker what the Muje meant.

George led us down a dirt pathway surrounded by thorny bushes. As we reached the bottom of the slope, he showed us the village’s primary water source—three small holes. When it rains, the holes collect water for people to use, as well as muddy runoff from the hill.

Inside each hole was a shallow pool of brownish-tinted water full of floating debris.

As I watched a chunk of mud fall into the water, a woman approached and dipped her cup into the water.  After a few sips, she passed it to her four-year-old son. I watched them both drink, and suppressed the urge to shout:

“That water will make you so sick!” But I forced myself to stay silent.

Why? Because the people of Nora already know that the water they use is unsafe. They also know, after conversations with my co-worker Richard, that water can be contaminated and lead to disease.

But this knowledge doesn’t change their circumstances. Many people can’t afford to buy the materials required for boiling water, and they do not have access to safe drinking water. Unless things change, they will continuously experience illness from their water.

As I watched the woman and child drink from the water hole, I was comforted by the hope of Samaritan’s Purse constructing BSFs in this community. Soon, things will change. As the community is given the opportunity to build and receive their own water filters, they will have clean, safe water for all their household needs.

The Muje’s words were dramatic, but they were true. I look forward to see this community take steps toward clean water, so that they no longer suffer needlessly.