Jaime hated drinking water. It made him (and his family) sick. ‘When we drank water, we chewed sand,’ he tells us. Jaime lives as a missionary in a region in Brazil where less than nine per cent of communities have access to basic sanitation such as a clean water supply or sewage collection.
As is the case in many riverside settlements in Brazil, before Tearfund’s local partner helped install a water filter, Jamie and his community had no choice but to drink water straight from the river.
‘We [used to] put the water in a drum or box at the river's edge and use it for a day or two,’ Jaime explains. ‘We carried it on our heads or shoulders and used it to wash dishes, make food, and drink. It was dark, muddy water.’
Children and adults alike used to get ill frequently from drinking the water.
‘We looked at it and had no desire to drink it,’ Jaime says, ‘but, like all riverside people, we had no access to any other.’
The consequences can be deadly. Jaime’s wife's grandfather was one of the many who die each year of preventable waterborne diseases.
‘It's very hot here and we drink a lot of water, but the water didn't quench our thirst because it was hot and muddy. And when we drank a glass of water, it made my stomach ache,’ says Jaime.
Clear, refreshing hope
Now that the community has a water tank with a filter, it’s very rare to see a child crying with a stomach ache because everyone has clean water to drink. Jaime describes it as ‘delicious’!
Working together with our local partner organisation, Asas de Socorro, and the local community, Tearfund has built water treatment plants in Jaime’s community and in 16 other riverside communities in the region – improving the health and quality of life of around 1,700 people.
‘From the river, the water goes to the water tank, from there, to a filter, and from the filter, it comes out of the tap,’ Jaime shares happily.
‘Instead of going to the river to get water, we leave the house and go to the tap. We don't have to go down and up the ravine to get water, which was very tiring. Now, we get the water easily from the tap, and it comes out filtered and clean, pleasant to drink. You take a large glass and drink it to quench your thirst willingly.
‘I am very grateful to God. It took work, and the whole community got involved in building the water tank and filter structure… Everything has become easier... Everyone is happy.’