Water, water everywhere, and finally safe to drink!!

Water is and always has been a huge problem at Nkoaranga orphanage. In fact, the nonprofit grew out of my very first project here – a well. When we arrived two years ago, the orphanage and hospital were frequently without water as much as one day out of three. On those days, the mamas would spend most of their time hauling water in buckets from the local school, or, if it was out of water too, from the river – leaving them no time for the kids. Just the basic tasks of getting them washed, fed, and hydrated, already no picnic with thirty children, became exponentially greater. The doctors couldn’t wash their hands, inpatients couldn’t bathe, and people died unnecessarily.

Little froggy Frankie trying to get into my water bottle

With the help of some other amazing volunteers, some generous donors, and the donated labor of a local driller, we were able to get a well up and running within four months. The nonprofit grew organically out of that first project, and the understanding of what a huge impact could be made with comparatively modest resources. The key has always been listening carefully and respectfully to the people we work with – they do this work every day, and they know best what they need!

Could you say no to this face?

Although the well has made a huge difference, the water saga has not stopped there. Drinking water straight from the taps in Tanzania means playing Russian roulette with typhoid, dysentery, amoebas, worms, and a whole catalog of other fun creepy crawlies. That means the mamas spent countless hours and hundreds of dollars of fuel on boiling water for the bottles and for drinking, day in and day out. Because of the thousand other tasks awaiting their attention, and the hours it took for boiled water to cool, there would frequently be periods when the kids were thirsty and we simply had no safe water to give them. There is nothing more heartbreaking than telling a child no to such a simple request – and it made us determined to never have to do it again.

Zawadi trying out one of the bucket filters for the hospital from inside – is it comfortable, Zi?

With our own Bethan Crisp at the helm, we took on Project Maji – which many of you contributed to! – to install a plumbed in water filter in the orphanage and a bucket filter system in each of the hospital wards. Inpatients and laboring mothers, already extremely physically vulnerable, were all drinking unfiltered water, seriously increasing their risk of complications. We exceeded our goal and were able to get a few extra filters for other places in need – hugely exciting! Click here for all the details and a list of donors.

Emily delivering the bucket filter to some very excited kids at Mama Jane’s!

As of last week, the filter is permanently installed in the orphanage sink, meaning that not only can every child get clean water at the turn of a faucet knob, but in addition, that all the dishes and hands will be washed in clean water, limiting one more source of potential infection. Thank you from the bottom of our heart for helping us to make their lives healthier. In addition, the hospital now has filters in each ward (male, female, pediatric, and maternity), as well as in the local primary school, and at Mama Jane’s, another nearby orphanage. In fact, they were so well received that we have been asked to bring over one for the secondary school and one for the outpatient department on our next trip! Lives WILL be saved by this initiative, and we are so very grateful for your support. .

Thank you from Stevie, Andrea, and David – and all of us!

And just for fun, here’s a short clip of one of our biggest water fans – baby Filipo, at his favorite time of day.