Fikiri and his family of nine children lived a difficult life in refugee camps for almost ten years, forced to flee the civil wars and unrest ravaging the DRC.
Restrictions on citizenship, education and employment across borders made integration and a normal life impossible. Finally they were able to return home, but they soon realised life in their village would present its own problems.
‘We had no toilets and bathrooms or clean water,’ says Fikiri. The family had to resort to using the surrounding bushes as a bathroom and drew water from a lake. The task of collecting water put a strain on his family and others in his community. They were also increasingly vulnerable to infection and waterborne diseases, which are a major cause of mortality in the area. Fikiri noticed that his children were getting sick and he was desperate to find a way to improve their circumstances.
Things changed when he joined the Community Health Club (CHC), which Tearfund is working on as part of the SWIFT Consortium. The CHC trained Fikiri in important hygiene practices. He says, ‘With the different teachings we received from the CHC we gained skills so we can build our own toilet for our families.’
After Fikiri built the toilet in his compound his children stopped getting sick so often and they are far less vulnerable to disease.
Praise God that this training and support is available for young families like Fikiri’s.
The project is also improving the community’s water sources, with the aim of meeting the World Health Organisation’s standards of water quantity, quality and proximity to households.