Fresh water saves lives and prevents blindness (Part 1 of 2)

Written by Admin, published on January 21, 2014 Donate Today
Ann Adoyole has spent years of her life searching for water.

Special thanks to our Assistant Director of Africa, Alice Mwangi, for sharing Ann’s story with us!

Ann Adoyole is 70 years old, and lives in a village in West Pokot County in Kenya. She has two sons and several grandchildren. Since she came to live in this village after her marriage many years ago, she made the trek on a daily basis to fetch water from the Suam River, several kilometers from where she lives.

Ann’s dusty dry village in West Pokot, Kenya.

When it rains, the water gets muddy and dirty – yet Ann and other community members still had to fetch it because there was no other source of water. One rainy season, the villagers found a dead body floating down the stream towards their community, but this did not deter them from collecting the water. What else could they drink?

Whenever the water became extremely dirty, the villagers filtered it using locally-available materials, and purified the water by squeezing juice from sisal leaves, mixing it with the water and leaving it overnight. Ann knew the process didn’t really clean the water because of the reoccurring diarrhea and other stomach ailments from which the villagers suffered.

Along with other village women, Ann (second from right) discusses best options for water gathering.

Given the long distance to the river, Ann and the other women could make only two trips each day for water, fetching 20 liters in a plastic jerrican each trip. Over the years, she developed chronic back pain, which she believes is a result of carrying the heavy jerricans for long distances. In constant pain, she still had to manage the daily trek for water. There was no other option…

Like over 30 percent of Kenya’s population living in trachoma endemic districts, many Pokot people suffer from this terrible eye condition. Transmitted by flies and made worse by both cultural and environmental factors, trachoma infects the eyes and scars the eyelids. Left untreated, trachoma leads to blindness. What is Operation Eyesight doing to help people like Ann? Come back next week to learn more.