Though still a young boy, Ephraim Ssebakumba has seen the transformation that our local partner, Partners for Community Transformation (PaCT), has brought upon his community, specifically his school, right before his eyes.
Ephraim lives in the Mityana District of Uganda and attends St. Denis Primary School, the local elementary and middle school. Before Partners for Community Transformation started working with St. Denis Primary School, Ephraim and his classmates would walk together on a daily basis to collect water for drinking, cooking and cleaning from the community’s sole water source, a nearby spring.
This water source was unprotected and contaminated by algae, livestock, and other animals, meaning that students and everyone in the community were not accessing clean water. This, in turn, resulted in frequent illness throughout the community, causing students to fall behind in their education while they stayed home and tried to recover, and affecting the livelihoods of adults and families.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 2,195 children die each day due to illnesses that are easily avoidable through basic clean water, sanitation and hygiene practices, and easily treatable with medications. However, lack of access to clean water, proper sanitation and hygiene practices combined with poverty and insufficient health systems lead to unnecessarily high rates of illness and death among children in developing countries.
After Ephraim’s school administration partnered with PaCT, they were able to install a spring protected water well. This new water point provides a safe place for the students and other community members to collect the clean water needed for daily life.
In addition to protecting the water point so that the students and community can access clean water, Partners for Community Transformation started a WASH club in the school and a WASH committee in the community. WASH club and committee participants act as leaders for water, sanitation and hygiene in their community. As they receive education themselves, they in turn educate their peers about proper sanitation practices and good hygiene, encouraging and promoting healthy practices throughout the community.
The WASH committee also takes ownership of the community’s water point, setting and managing the small fees for community members to ensure that funds are available for necessary maintenance and upkeep on the water well. These efforts are necessary for the sustainability of the clean water point, allowing it to remain in good working condition for years to come. The WASH committee also maintains an ongoing focus on sanitation and hygiene practices throughout the community, leading the way for sustained increases in health among both children and adults.
Community members and students alike now fill up their jerry cans at the water well knowing that they are retrieving clean water which will strengthen them and help them to remain healthy, rather than bringing on illness. This enables the students to stay in school and create their own brighter futures!!
This newly protected clean water point also increases health in the community as a whole. Gone are the days of sharing the algae-and-bacteria-filled open water source with livestock and wild animals.
Because of the life-changing work PaCT has been able to accomplish – and the generosity of our donors – Ephraim, his schoolmates, and his neighbors don’t have to skip school or work, or fear for their lives because of the intense consequences brought about by preventable illnesses.
We are so grateful that they can now live healthier childhoods and lives. We are grateful for our partners pursuing God’s great work, and we are grateful that we have all of you to go along this crucial journey toward global health with us.