Greetings from Team Wahab aka the Gideon Soldiers! For the past week and a half we have been implementing CWS’s clean water treatment center in the village of Cheshegu. After a big opening day we started to monitor the households in the village. With such a large community (approximately 175) monitoring can take some. However, our village is full of many supportive and progressively cooperative individuals who have made the process go smoothly for our team.
Our village is broken down into four neighborhoods…so that is how we decided to tackle the monitoring process each day. Additionally, visiting more houses during each trip has allowed us to cover more ground, interview more families, and collect additional samples for our laboratory tests. Fussina and Candy, the women in charge of the business in Cheshegu, have mentioned that only one person in the village has had a complaint about the quality/taste of the water from the polytank (alum). However, everyone else in our village has given us very positive feedback about the water from the polytank. The individuals of each household are excited to talk about their safe drinking water that they were able to retrieve in their new, bright, blue safe storage containers. A particularly encouraging moment during the monitoring process occurred when a woman welcomed us into her household, tipped back her cup of clean water, smiled, thanked us for what we have done for her family, and allowed us to continue with the rest of our process.
In addition to monitoring the households, we have kept a keen eye on the polytank and blue drums located adjacently to the dugout. During each visit to the dugout we have found that our four blue drums have been completely full and treated with alum. Prior to our departure on the first day of monitoring, the women came out that afternoon to scoop the alum-treated water, apply the Aquatabs, and refill the blue tanks before heading back into the village to their households.
Recently, CWS has begun to stress the importance of drinking clean water and practicing healthy habits by visiting the schools in the villages to educate the children. By providing the schools with interactive activities, we provide a hands-on approach to a healthier lifestyle. The size of the school in Cheshegu is well…intimidating. Getting over 200 children to stand outside side-by-side to attentively listen to what we had to say was quite the task. However, with the help of the school’s headmaster, several teachers, and of course our energetic translator Wahab, we were able to maintain get our point across to the children. By using volunteers for a taste test with a bottle of clean water from the polytank and another with an ungodly amount of salt diluted into it we were able to conclude to the children that “clean does not mean clean!” That is, some dugout/rainwater might not look like it has bacteria in it, but it can still be very unsafe to drink. Treated water from the polytank is always the best option! After our presentation, we corralled enough volunteers together for several rounds of “Healthy Habits Tag.” Here, the children who were “it” wielded signs that displayed various waterborne illnesses (cholera, typhoid, etc.). Those who were tagged had to immediately sit out and recover at the hospital (a shady area under a tree). However, individuals who held signs displaying health habits (washing your hands, drinking polytank water, etc.) were able to play longer since they were given 2 additional “lives” for the game.