Today, I encountered many moving and touching stories for #GivingTuesday, but one stood out: the story of Jacinta Zelinto who lives in the rural agrarian town of Maua, Mozambique, an area with high water-related diseases and illnesses like Malaria, cholera, dengy fever, diarrhea, stomach parasites, conjunctivitis.
Women in the town of spaced-apart homes with no sense of community are water barriers and sometimes the boys. They travel far on dirt path to collect water and sometimes meet up with poisonous snakes.
The pharmacy in the small market is poorly stocked and health center is filled with unqualified workers, not really trained to administer medicine. The majority of the patients are mothers with small children. Pregnant community women walk to the health center to give birth or give birth at home using unsafe and dirty water.
|WaterAid/ Guilhem Alandry|
There are no midwives in the communities, or traditional birth attendants. When a woman goes into labor the female neighbors gather with her and offer advice.
|WaterAid/ Guilhem Alandry|
A case study from the group WaterAid stated that Jacinta is married to the community leader Albeno Armando. And though she was sick at the time, she spoke confidently during an interview about her experiences and also how painful they were to her.
From her own words:
“I have had 10 children but two died.
We are farmers, we cultivate to make a living. Tobacco, corn, beans, millet. We also raise chickens. We sell chickens and corn but we have to walk to Maua with our goods to sell them at market.
Sophonia died last year, she was 2 years old. She liked to walk around with her sisters and going to her grandmothers house. She liked to play in the sand.
I felt so bad when Sophonia died. I was just crying all day.
First of all she had an ear problem together with diarrhoea. She had diarrhoea often and started to look tired and weak. Then she died.
When she was really ill we left that day to go to hospital (health centre) – they gave her one pill to take with water. We stayed over night and the next morning they gave us an injection and sent us home.
When I was at the hospital I called the family to come. I called my husband and mother and uncle as I knew she was not good. When they came we went home. On the way home I had the baby on my back. My mother asked to take the baby as she knew it was dead. When my mother took the baby she told my husband ‘I’m sorry but your baby is dead’. They decided not to tell me on the walk because they thought I would collapse and not be able to walk home. My husband told me when we arrived home that my baby had died on my back. I broke down crying.
Emotionally I felt bad. I could not believe I had lost a daughter. But some people comforted me. They told me not to cry because that would make me weak and then I would get diseases. With comfort I got better.
When I think about that day I cry. I don’t want to cry. I try to avoid going to the road.
Since Sophonia died I have had a boy – Salvadore. (he is about 10-11 months and just started walking). I want a good future for my son. When he gets sick I fear I will lose him like I lost Sophonia.
I don’t know what causes diarrhea but I know lots of people get it.
The well (water source) is not covered – lots of people go at different times – mostly its very dirty. It is not good water.
The difference clean water would make is that I can no longer drink dirty water. It will reduce sickness – the children would be healthy.
At the hospital we are advised to give children water and food from 5 months up so this is what I follow. After five months I start giving them food and water.
After a year I start to leave children for a long time to go and work in the fields so children must stop breastfeeding then.
I get diarrhea sometimes – there is no blood in the diarrhea but I go to the toilet often. Not only me but also my children get diarrhea a lot.
My other child died about 3 years ago, she was about 2-3 months, she also had diarrhea.
When people die I think they go to heaven to go to God, but sometimes I doubt this as no-one has ever come back to tell us. Sometimes I think the body stays in the graveyard and the spirit goes to heaven.
Our village is very poor. I am trying to share our problems. We don’t have things nearby – market, health center. When I and my children are sick we can’t do anything. I like to share our problems. We need many things but it is true that water and sanitation is the center of everything. It will reduce disease.”
So touching. If you want to help women like Jacinta in Mozambique and other parts of the developing world where water safety and purity is a cause of death and disease, consider giving to Water AID today or in the future.
AND….If you give today, a few “super-heroes” are standing by to match your gift towards WaterAid’s “Child of Mine” end of the year fundraising campaign launched this past November 3rd in five countries (United States, Canada, UK, Australia and Japan) aimed at addressing the enormous global issue of child morality.
The challenge and goal is to give safe water to 100,000 kids under the age of five which will enable children to live beyond their first years.
photos: WaterAid/ Guilhem Alandry