Health and Nutrition
by Rebecca and Jay Wozny, Saare Oumar, Senegal
Our drinking water is fresh and clean. After we draw the water from the well, we bleach and filter it. A few drops of bleach kill any bacteria that may be in the water, and the filters remove dirt particles and parasites.
The villagers don't have filters, but they do add bleach directly to the well from time to time. While their water may appear clean, it often contains parasites that can cause stomach problems and diarrhea.
Well water is cleaner than the tap water in the cities of Senegal. If a well is not providing fresh or clean water, a new well is dug. Old wells may be deepened if there is not enough water, or if there is too much sediment in the well.
by Catherine Guillard, Samba Diarry, Senegal
My drinking water is not clean. I have to filter and then chlorinate the water before I can drink it. My neighbors just drink the well water straight, which works fine most of the time, but can cause problems, such as outbreaks of diarrhea. Although some households in the community are starting to chlorinate the water, this is a relatively new concept. It is also a difficult one to explain, because there is no word for "germ" in Pulaar and you can't exactly show germs to people to prove that they exist. Still, people now see the connection between stomach pains and unclean water, and this convinces them that they should chlorinate.
by Enid Abrahami, Missirah Tabadian, Senegal
Just as water is a main source of life, it is also a common cause of illness and death. Our water is often infested with parasites, amoebas, and bacteria. Rarely do villagers filter their water. Only a select few purify their water with bleach. Hence, severe cases of dysentery and diarrhea occur frequently. Due to the lack of money and education, all too often the sick are not taken to the health center for treatment. And in many cases, this results in death.
I have seen the tragedy with my own eyes. Eight children from my village between the ages of one and five died from dysentery within the span of three weeks—all from drinking unclean water. I tried to help. I visited the families, urged them to go to the health post, and made Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) formula for them (8 spoonfuls of sugar, 2 pinches of salt, and 2 liters of water). But ultimately there was nothing I could do. I will always remember them.
by Kathleen Rucker, Louga, Senegal
Families store drinking water in large clay pots that keep the water cool and fresh. Most families clean these pots regularly. Fresh water is always available from the community running water faucet. Each family replenishes their water supply with fresh water every morning. Because I am not accustomed to the bacteria found in our water supply—as the villagers who have lived here their whole lives are—I filter my water through a ceramic filter. This method removes particles and certain bacteria from the water. Then I add a couple of drops of bleach to kill any other bacteria, giardia, or amoebas.
by Jamie Schehl, Sokone, Senegal
Our drinking water appears fresh because it is clear and cool. But I wouldn't describe it as clean. Dead frogs are often seen floating in the water. Even worse, during the rainy season, I have seen as many as three different kinds of worms in the water. I was unable to tell whether they were parasites or larvae, but there were a lot of them! My host family does not filter, boil, or bleach their water. As a result, they often have diarrhea.