Our team reports it was like stepping back in time.
Our first Medical Clinic this year in a new village in the Gondar Province of Ethiopia was a shock. 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 insidetheir huts – which leads to serious respiratory problems from smoke inhalation.
What was most shocking?
The 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 much more serious problems.
One little girl we 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.
One 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 two hours’ walk from his 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.
We 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 from 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 5. Worldwide, more than 4,000 children die every day from water-borne diseases.
Fortunately, when our 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®.
I’ve written about LifeStraws before. But I continue to be amazed at how this simple, low-cost water filter can do so much to change lives!
LifeStraws filter out 99.9% of all bacteria, parasites and solid particles as small as 2 microns. That means they remove almost all disease-causing contaminants!
The LifeStraws we give free at our Clinics are lightweight, require no electricity and come in many sizes. A 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.
The cost to give this clean, healthy, life-giving water? Amazingly low. Just $15 will provide one Personal LifeStraw. And $75 will provide a Family LifeStraw – or five Personal LifeStraws.
This means every $30 you give now will provide TWO people with clean water for one year through Personal LifeStraws. Your gift of $75 will provide FIVE people with Personal LifeStraws – or a Family LifeStraw to give clean water to an entire household for one year.
And with your gift of $150, you’ll provide 10 people with safe water through Personal LifeStraws!
Along with the LifeStraws, you’ll also provide education about the dangers of unclean water and the need for basic hygiene.
When we demonstrate the LifeStraws, the local people react as though they’ve seen 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!
But safe water is the key to a better life. It means:
- Less disease, since many common illnesses come from contaminated water
- Infected cuts and wounds are no longer inevitable
- Fewer problems with pregnancies and healthier newborns
- Healthier fathers, so they’re better able to provide for their families
- Thriving children who are no longer constantly sick, so they can go to school and have a better chance of escaping poverty
You can see the extreme importance of clean, safe water for people in places like Ethiopia. So I hope you’ll give generously to provide as many LifeStraws as possible.