Inviting Typhoid Mary to Tea

The start of any project inevitably requires endless meetings.  That has been the truth of my last week, as I have found myself on the phone or in a meeting most days.

James, a water engineer from SANA, explaining the lay out of piping from the initial kiosk to the first expansion in Kadiju.

James, a water engineer from SANA, explaining the construction of the piping of a water kiosk.

But this has been a good thing!  After meeting with the Wandiege Water Company last week, we met with an engineer from SANA (Sustainable Aid in Africa International) named James who helped plan the initial water kiosk and mapped out a rough work plan for the next several weeks.

It was a very productive meeting.

Katrina and I at the Chiga Water Kiosk.  The iron bars sticking out of the roof will serve as the anchor for the extension of the tower.

Katrina and I at the Chiga Water Kiosk. The iron bars sticking out of the roof will serve as the anchor for the extension of the tower.

The first step is to extend the water kiosk.  Currently, there is a single 10,000 liter tank at 3 meters, or 9 feet, right above the kisok.  We will be adding another 10,000 liter tank on a platform 9 meters (27 feet) above the kiosk.  This will allow the water to reach Kadiju via gravity filtration, minimizing the parts needed as well as the electricity consumed.  If everything goes to plan, construction should start in the next week!

When I told this to the Kadiju Caregivers, they were overjoyed.

I consider the meeting with the caregivers to be the most important one I attended all week.  These women will be the ones running the kiosk in Kadiju and will be the most impacted by the access to clean water.  Already I have learned so much from them.

During the meeting I asked these amazing women what effect the dirty water has had on the orphans they are raising and their answer surprised me.

They fetch the majority of their water from a natural dam in the river which they share with domesticated animals.  Because of this, their children frequently contract typhoid, a disease you contract when you’ve been in contact with food or water  contaminated with feces.

Whenever their children get sick, they must take them into the clinic to get tested.  The test itself costs 200 shillings at OLPS, and if their child has typhoid, the treatment is another 450 shillings.

The Kadiju Caregivers: These amazing women love to tease Katrina and I.

The Kadiju Caregivers: These amazing women love to tease Katrina and I!

Given that these women and their families live off of less than 80 shillings a day, one illness will wipe out more than a week of their budget even before you count the cost of transportation and lost wages.  And typhoid is just one of over 30 diseases these children can contract from contaminated water.

The financial impact of the disease reduction alone is staggering.

These women are formidable: mostly widows, they raise anywhere between 2 and 6 children, many of whom are orphans, while running small businesses for incomes.  Despite what seems like difficult circumstances, they never greet me with anything less than wide smiles and well wishes.  Their strength and joy is inspiring.

Every time I speak with them I am even more excited to get the construction of the kiosk going.  Fortunately we have raised enough money to extend the water tower and add another tank so we can get started on that right away, but we still need money for the pipes to bring the water into Kadiju!

We are now well on our way to bringing clean water to these women and their children.  Please help us and support these unbelievable caregivers by donating here!

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