Friday, February 20, 2015

Crap.

Today I'm going to talk about diarrhea.

I know it's gross, but it needs to be talked about.

You see, diarrhea is a major killer. (click here to read more)

We've all had the shits at some point. We ate something, we had the flu or had the "travelers trots" and made a dash for the toilet.
Inconvenient, embarrassing, sure. But I never associated it with fatality before.
I never thought you could DIE from diarrhea.

Until I started this fundraiser for clean water I didn't even know how to spell diarrhea! (there are several accepted spellings, by the way).

It's not bloody, it's not violent, and it doesn't discriminate based on gender or ethnicity. But it is deadly, because it causes dehydration. If you don't have access to clean, safe water, diarrhea can actually kill you.

But maybe it won't kill you. Maybe the concept of 'deadly diarrhea' is almost humorous to you. But if you've ever been responsible for a small child or infant who had diarrhea, it's no joke.
Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children under 5 years old.
And is the leading cause of malnutrition in children (which they can also die from).


Diarrhea leads to dehydration.
And what is essential for re-hydration?
WATER.
CLEAN WATER.
See the endless cycle here?

Diarrhea should be embarrassing. It should NOT be deadly.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sobering Reality

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15.  A child just died from lack of access to clean water.

Every 15 seconds a child dies of lack of access to clean water. Either from thirst, dehydration due to diarrhea or diseases caused by lack of access to water. Further, lack of access to water affects nutrition and food because most food in developing countries is cooked with water (such as rice). This statistic does not bring into account children who are murdered, used as human sacrifices, or die during childbirth due to early pregnancy as a result of rape when kidnapped or attacked during the trip to collect water.

This is not to be confused with 1 in 5 children...that statistic is 1 in 5 children under the age of 5 years old dies.

If 4 children per minute seems extreme, here are the sources that confirm it:

http://www.waterforall.org/get-involved/water-facts
http://www.globalissues.org/article/715/today-21000-children-died-around-the-world
http://www.waterforall.org/get-involved/water-facts

"Safe water and sanitation are critical for survival.
A child dies every 15 seconds from disease attributable to unsafe drinking water,
deplorable sanitation and poor hygiene."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Little Thing that is a Big Thing

I don't usually think about water.
Like toilet paper or soap, you take it for granted unless it's not there when you need it.
Even in Tanzania, I have running water in my house and a water filter conveniently on top of the fridge; getting clean drinking water is easy. Getting water for washing my clothes, mopping the floor, bathing and cooking is easy.

But this small thing I take for granted is essential to life. And because some people in the world - some people not too far away from where I live, actually - don't have access to clean water, their lives are completely disrupted.



Here is a list of things that are affected by lack of access to water:

Health.
Family Income.
Finances/Savings.
Food.
Hygiene.
Education.
Safety.
Kidnapping/Abduction.
Sexual Assault.
Early Pregnancy.
Marriage.
Staying Alive.

See this little thing affects so many things.



I will be posting on each specific topic in the future, but a short run-down of each item goes like this:

The major cause of disease in the ENTIRE WORLD is due to lack of access to clean water and/or poor sanitation. If there was sufficient water, people would wash their hands more regularly, diminishing disease. If there was a source of clean water, people wouldn't drink from creeks; some of which get run-off from pit-latrines which leak human waste into water systems (both are possibly how I originally got Typhoid).

Obviously, this affects a family's finances, if they need to pay for medical attention. But beyond medicines and doctor's visits, the time spent collecting water is estimated to be 140 hours daily by women all over the world. If put together, that would be 20 Empire State Buildings being constructed each day! For some women, its a twenty minute walk; for others, its 4 hours ONE WAY.
Time that could have been spent on other projects, ones which could bring in additional income is sucked up by walking to get water.

This is where education comes in, too. Children are usually given the task of getting water. And if it takes a few hours to get water and bring it back home, that's time that students are not in school. Children's education is directly affected by having lack of access to clean water.

If someone has to get water in the dark, there are a whole other host of concerns. He or she could be raped and possibly consequently impregnated. This alone has a domino affect for emotional and physical health, but also if a girl is pregnant the likelihood of her finishing school diminishes and even future prospects for marriage are affected.
But that's only if they make it back home.
Too many are kidnapped during this attack; abduction could mean they are forced to become child soldiers, child brides or slaves.
But that's only if they are left alive.
It's a prime location; attackers can depend that there will probably be someone walking in the dark, carrying a heavy jug of water and not be able to run. And they can probably bet on it being a child, more than likely a girl.

Finally, dirty water contaminated by industrial run-off, human waste, parasites or diseases affects everyone, but not equally. Anyone can die from contaminated water, but not having the finances to pay for medication makes you more likely to die. Also, being a young child means your body is not strong enough to fight off sickness. That is why 1 in 5 children around the world die before reaching their 5th birthday. Children die from water-related diseases at a rate of 4 children per minute.

Clean water matters because it's the difference
between life and death.





* While I certainly looked up this information, and it can be confirmed with UNICEF and the World Health Organization, as well as WaterFacts.org; I also was aware of it because of my time spent in Uganda. For example, young men of one of the tribes in the far north of Uganda would kidnap a girl, rape her and then send cows back to the girl's father- she was now his 'wife'; even if she was only 15. When I asked why families didn't better protect their daughters, the answer was the girl was usually collecting water when it happened. Water is a basic necessity; you can't just not have water, even if the risk means rape and abduction.

Monday, February 02, 2015

H2O

This isn't my first time in a developing country, or in a location without running water. It's not the first time I ever carried jerrycans of water from a water-source. And it's not the first time I have had to boil my water to drink it.

But it is the first time I ever got sick from contaminated water.
It's the first time I sat in a medical clinic in room full of people sick with the same water-borne disease:

  • Toddlers screaming, tears streaming down their cheeks while nurses connected them to IVs.
  • Children in school uniforms getting their treatment before going to class.
  • Mothers working with only one hand because the other had a needle for receiving medicine through infusion.
  • Old men, wrapped in blankets against the chill of the fever as they waited their turn.

The doctors, nurses, nearly every person in town shrugged about typhoid; "its one of the most common diseases here."

But it doesn't have to be.

Hopefully, you're not like me. Hopefully, you don't need to actually be sick from contaminated water in order to want to do something to help others who don't have access to clean water.

You can donate at: Charity Water Birthdays