Fred Njuya’s story begins in a remote village in rural Uganda, where his mother left him in the care of his grandparents at the age of five months. He lived in extreme poverty in a small, grass-thatched house with his blind grandmother and alcoholic grandfather that had no electricity, no bedding, no medical care, no clean water and rarely enough food. Fred felt as though he was constantly eaten up by jiggers, lice and flies. Throughout his childhood He suffered countless times with Typhoid Fever, which he contracted as a child from drinking dirty water, and the battle continued until he was 40 years of age. It was a harsh existence that left little cause for hope.
Unfortunately, Fred’s story is not unique. The villages and urban slums in Uganda are populated by families living in paralyzing poverty, who suffer daily from water and food insecurity, leaving thousands of children sick and malnourished. And the situation isn’t limited to just Uganda. It’s almost impossible to grasp for those of us who don’t face those debilitating conditions.
Known for its remarkable beauty, Uganda is sometimes referred to as the “Pearl of Africa,” but its lush hills, thick with green, and fruit stands packed with pineapple, mango, watermelon, and avocado belie the staggering poverty and desperate living conditions. More than 22 million people live in this paradise in poverty and without access to clean water.
Women and children spend a collective 200 million hours each day walking to collect water, often navigating dense, marshy paths to reach a polluted lake that’s home to snakes and crocodiles. Nearly everyone in the village knows someone who has been killed because of one or the other and some have even witnessed it. The journey is full of danger too, leaving women exposed to human predators.
If they’re fortunate enough to reach the muddy hole in the ground shared with both their neighbors and their livestock without falling victim to the dangers, they stand in line waiting their turn to collect their share. Most of the water is not safe to drink, but they have little choice but to risk consuming it. They take the long, dangerous journey back to their hut and then serve it to the people they love most. That brings constant suffering from stomach pain and diarrhea and the likelihood of losing children to water-related diseases. This is why every two minutes a child dies of water-related disease, and more than one million people die each year from the same.
For those of use lucky enough to be born in places where we’ve never had to worry about finding water or deal with the fear that our water might affect the health of our families,
it’s hard to fathom. Theoretically, we understand that water is life. We know that access to clean water can and does improve health and make life easier and safer. What is difficult for us to comprehend is clean water’s ability to deliver hope.
One small piece of equipment—A Biosand filter from Thirst Relief International—not only saved Fred’s life by making clean water accessible to him and his family, but changed it forever. Fred calls it a miracle.
Fred’s story is one of hope and promise. Today, he’s a minister with a family of his own. He runs Gracom Education Centre Orphanage where Thirst Relief has installed a Biosand filter and a rainwater harvest tank to ensure that the children have access to clean water.
He’s also working with Thirst Relief International to provide one Biosand filter to every family in the village so they can rid the village of Typhoid Fever and give them hope.
While challenging, the situation is not hopeless. For just $100 a Biosand filter can radically change the lives of people, like Fred and his family, for 30 years or more. Your donation can help provide people like Fred with clean water. Or, you can help out at #OurRemedyIsARMY. You can provide hope!