On the blog

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Reasons to be cheerful

Jolly Rwomushana, a Ugandan mother of three, has reasons to celebrate. Her family life has been transformed thanks to Toilet Twinning.  

Jolly outside her latrine.  Photo: Vernon Kingsley
For years her children, aged six, 14 and 19, suffered frequent bouts of sickness thanks to diarrhoea and worms.  And in the dry period, March to October, lack of clean water meant conjunctivitis spread like wildfire. Her family was part of an uncomfortable statistic: more than 30% of rural Ugandans have no access to decent drinking water.

And although they had a latrine, its lack of roof afforded no privacy. Instead it offered up swarms of flies, which flitted back and forth to their kitchen area.

Sickness frequently ruled out regular school attendance for the children. The  family found themselves in a time-consuming round of hospital trips,  expensive medical fees and equally expensive medicines. And time spent away from their fields brought risk of reduced yields, which they could ill afford.

But then Toilet Twinning was able to help through its Ugandan development partner Diocese of Kigezi. It showed the family how to construct a proper latrine and taught them the importance of hygiene and handwashing. Simple measures such as covering a latrine with a cap and a stick handle, to guard against flies, can make a huge difference to health.

What’s more, the Diocese have helped villagers construct a giant rainwater harvesting tank at the school, so the children can have clean water there.
Life is no picnic for Jolly, even now. Recent scant rainfall has caused the rainwater tanks to run low, so the children have to bring in their own water to school - water which takes time to collect.
But among the life-saving lessons learnt, her children now know water needs to be boiled before it can be used for hand-washing and drinking. And that simple process alone makes all the difference in the world, not just to the children’s health but also to their future.