Jewish Voice Helps Provide Safe Clean Water in Ethiopia
Jewish Voice Ministries International recently went on their first medical clinic this year in a new village in the Gondar Province of Ethiopia. In this village, most of the Jewish descendants of ancient tribes in that area, along with other local people, live in small, one-room huts made from sticks plastered with mud and animal dung. The floors are dirt, and many of the people cook over wood fires inside their huts. Cooking inside their huts has lead to serious respiratory problems from smoke inhalation.
Coupled with the respiratory problems there is an almost complete lack of knowledge about sanitation, about drinking and cooking with clean water, and about how safe water contributes to health and hygiene. As a result, even small cuts lead to infections, which over time become many more serious problems.
One little girl they met, for example, had a small cut on her scalp. Without care, the cut became terribly infected. By the time she arrived at our Clinic, her entire head was covered with running sores – to the point that flies were laying eggs in the open sores.
A father brought his 9-year-old son, saying simply, “I hope my child lives.” For four long years, the boy – whose name was Ballet – had suffered from a distended abdomen, much like you see in famine victims. In Ballet’s case, the problem was drinking unclean water from the only water source available: a contaminated stream, more than a two-hour walk from their home. Besides his swollen belly, this poor little guy had no appetite. He was never able to eat more than a bite or two at a time. As a result, he suffered from malnutrition and was often too exhausted for school or to help with chores. Still, even Ballet had to walk four hours daily – two hours each way – to carry back a container full of his share of contaminated water for the day.
JVMI volunteers often see this in remote areas like the village in Ethiopia. Access to water is severely limited. And what is available is contaminated. But even when the only water is unsafe, people still have no choice but to drink it. The dangers of drinking unclean water are many including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis and many others. In fact, unclean water has caused more deaths than all the guns and all the wars in history combined.
Today, many of the victims of water contamination are children under the age of five. Worldwide, more than 4,000 children die every day from water-borne diseases.
Fortunately, when the JVMI doctors examined Ballet, they were able to immediately diagnose his problem and give him medicine to treat his water-borne parasitic infection. Within just a couple of weeks, Ballet was completely recovered – especially since Jewish Voice also provided him and his family with LifeStraws®.
LifeStraws are simple, low-cost water filters that are designed to filter out 99.9% of all bacteria, parasites and solid particles as small as 2 microns. JVMI provides free LifeStraws at their clinics. Each personal LifeStraw can purify more than 1,050 gallons of contaminated water providing enough safe drinking water for one person for an entire year. And the larger Family LifeStraw can purify 7,925 gallons a year, enough to provide safe drinking water for a family for a full year.
Along with the providing LifeStraws, JVMI also provides education about the dangers of unclean water and the need for basic hygiene. As they demonstrate the LifeStraws, the local people react as though they’ve seen the magic! Dirty, contaminated water is drawn through the filter and immediately comes out clear and clean. It’s almost as though the people have never seen what clean water looks like!
This part of JVMI’s medical outreach ministry helps provide safe water as a key to a better life. Providing LifeStraws assists with less disease, since many common illnesses come from contaminated water. They reduce infected cuts and wounds are. They bring about ewer problems with pregnancies and healthier newborns. Healthier fathers are better able to provide for their families, and children are no longer constantly sick, so they can go to school and have a better chance of escaping poverty.
To find out more about JVMI’s outreaches and how you can help visit www.jewishvoice.org.