Despite living along the Niger River, local villagers had little access to clean water. Parents and their children generally drank from the same source where animals bathe and clothes are washed.
Every week canoes carried patients sickened by waterborne illness to a medical centre up river. Some patients died before completing the hours-long journey. Young children were particularly vulnerable.
“The water here is very polluted, and drinking straight from the river caused a lot of illness,” said Olivier Boutchueng, WASH program manager for Samaritan’s Purse in Niger.
However, the health of area residents has improved dramatically in the past year as a Samaritan’s Purse BioSand Filter project has reached many communities in the area. This project has provided the “double blessing” of giving homes a source of clean water—which won’t make them ill—and offers women like Fati Zoumari a skill that can help generate desperately needed income.
Fati, a widow and mother of five children, was among the first women we trained to create the simple yet beautiful pottery that holds BioSand material, which filters out harmful bacteria. Each handcrafted filtration unit beautifies a home and provides clean water for the family and community.
“I’m grateful to Samaritan’s Purse and to the people who trained us and brought all of these blessings to us. Being able to do this is a double blessing for us,” said Fati, who had only recently learned the skills she is now teaching to others. “It’s bringing us knowledge and skill to help us change our lives, and it’s also saving the lives of people in our communities.”
Fati explains that teaching women to build and sell the units has improved their lives while giving communities along the Niger River a source of clean water.
“There are women older than me with babies on their backs, and they’re pounding millet and fetching water on their heads,” she said. “I like that I walk into a house and see families are drinking from the filters that I made. I get to be a blessing to others.”
Sorsoni Traditional School is one customer for our handmade BioSand Filters. Students there recently experienced their first taste of water from one of the filters.
“It’s so cold and good. It tastes sweet,” said 10-year-old Laihena who said that before this she would drink straight from the river and become sick. “Now I don’t get sick anymore.”
“Now I don’t get sick anymore.”
Through programs like these, communities get to experience physical health and we have opportunities to share about the Living Water, Jesus Christ.