“The greatest wealth is health.”
The two leading causes of poor health in Africa are tightly intertwined: lack of clean water and poor hygiene. It’s for Africa!’s major projects center around these two things.
Water is the most important substance on earth, required by all species to live and flourish. The human body is composed of 60-70% water, and according to H.H. Mitchell in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (158), the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are nearly 83% water. Even our bones are 31% water!
Pure water replenishes, revitalizes and regulates all activities in the body. If there is even as little as a 2% loss of the body’s water content, physical performance is substantially impaired. If there was no water there would be no life on earth. How profound that Jesus Christ referred to himself as “the Living Water”.
But what happens when water is contaminated? In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, one of the grave health concerns was the mass amount of pollutants in the water.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, which includes Uganda and So. Sudan, there are over 300 million people without access to pure water sources.
Near the cities, families can often gain access to boreholes (wells)of clean underground water for just a few shillings each week or month. However, even in downtown Gulu, we would occasionally see young children pick up empty water bottles and fill them with filthy water that contained garbage and other pollutants. It’s not surprising that since 80% of communicable diseases are transmitted from surface waters, the people are often sick.
Rural areas fare much worse, with village people often walking very long distances to get any kind of water. A first step in helping Africans walk out of poverty is to provide cleaner, safer water.
It’s for Africa! is partnering with AidAfrica to drill boreholes, but a borehole is only the beginning of the path out of extreme poverty. Frederick Ocaya Bese (“Bese,” pronounced bay-say), a well-known Ugandan civil engineer and founder of Engineers in Green Actions, stresses the need to train Africans on conservation so their boreholes and lands do not become barren.
CONSERVATION AND SANITATION THROUGH TIPPY TAPS
Constructing and using Tippy Tap washing stations effectively conserves water and improves health.
From the official website, TippyTap.org:
The tippy tap is a hands free way to wash your hands that is especially appropriate for rural areas where there is no running water. It is operated by a foot lever and thus reduces the chance for bacteria transmission as the user touches only the soap. It uses only 40 milliliters [1.5 ounces] of water to wash your hands vs 500 milliliters [16 ounces] using a mug. (http://www.tippytap.org/the-tippy-tap)
These are so simple and easy to make that even older children or young adults can build them.
Tippy Taps not only conserve water but are essential for better health, giving the people an opportunity to frequently wash their hands, particularly after using pit latrines.
While Brooks and Pam lived in Gulu, two local congregations assembled tippy tap stations at hospitals, the markets and some residential districts. Instead of traditionally manufactured bar soap which quickly washed away in heavy rains, they used liquid soap made by local residents. The liquid soap was added to recycled water bottles that were nail-punched near the top to release soap when needed; it is then replugged with a thin twig or stick.
It’s for Africa! requires that a village hoping to receive a new borehole participate in training programs on hygiene and conservation. It is also a prerequisite in their village schools. In turn, IFA provides minor assistance so each family builds its own tippy tap washing station. With clean water AND functioning washing stations the amount of disease and illness is drastically reduced.
It’s for Africa! partners with the MpendoPacker Foundation to assist in the removal and eradication of jiggers. These are parasitic worms that bore through the skin and can cause serious health issues. This problem is hygiene related. Sussie Apondi’s non-profit provides excellent care, treatment and training. MpendoPacker Foundation is building the first jiggers clinic in Uganda.
BETTER HEALTH THROUGH DAYS FOR GIRLS
Many girls and women have no feminine hygiene products to use during menses. They are then consigned to sit on a piece of cardboard in their hut or abode. Some try corn cobs, pebbles or straw to inhibit the flow, which leads to serious infections. In the rural villages, the mortality rate after giving birth is extremely high because village women often have no clean products. Days for Girls International addresses this serious problem through training and distribution of reusable feminine hygiene kits made by any of its thousands of volunteers.
It’s for Africa! has partnered with Days for Girls- Highland Village TX. Its vast group of volunteers, from ages 8 to 92, assist them from across Texas and as far away as the Pensacola Florida region and Pleasant Grove Utah. They love serving those in need around the world through these kits.