COMPASSION INTERNATIONAL: Abonesh’s Story: Clean Water isn’t always safe water


In Alem Tena, a small town in Ethiopia, access to water is less of a problem than in neighboring towns. People don’t have to walk long distances to fetch water from rivers or ponds; rather, most homes have running water, and those that don’t can easily access water taps close by.However, clear tap water doesn’t always mean safe drinking water. Until recently, waterborne diseases were wreaking havoc in this community, and children were the worst affected. Parents often had to take their children to the hospital and pay expensive medical bills that left them without money for food. Students were frequently absent from school and missed out on Compassion activities, causing them to fall behind developmentally.Abonesh Tadesse, a 13-year-old girl who attends the local child development center, was one of these children. Abonesh’s mother says, “There was always someone sick at home, and there were many times when I almost lost Abonesh, my youngest. She suffered a lot and we used to take her to the hospital frequently. Every time, the doctors said she was suffering with illnesses that came from drinking unsafe water.”
After Abonesh was enrolled in the Child Development Program, Compassion and our church partner helped her family by sharing the financial burden of her medical treatment, as well as that of many others in the program. Although the center’s water was safe for children who consumed it during Compassion activities, most children did not have access to safe water at their homes. Happily, everything changed when the center received home-based water filtration systems for every one of the 244 children in its care. When the Water of Life home filtration systems arrived, center staff members organized training sessions for the children and their families. The systems were distributed and, within a year, the number of children needing treatment for waterborne diseases had decreased dramatically. “The year before we provided the filters, there were 72 cases of illnessess and a year after, that number went down to 27 cases,” reports Mr. Yared, the center’s director. “Children began to attend the program activities and their formal education more regularly.” “As soon as I started drinking the filtered water at home, I began to feel better,” says Abonesh. “Now I only ever drink filtered water and I rarely have to visit the health center anymore.”

Photo Credit: 
Compassion SA