WATER IS LIFE – Savious’ Story

May, 2012
In 2011 fresh2o in partnership with Edirisa UK and Compassion International, donated ten water tanks to families living with HIV in the Buranga community of Kabale.
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Water provision can be a challenge to those living with HIV and their care-givers. Culturally it’s a child’s job to fetch water for the family, with children in rural areas travelling long distances with no guarantee that the water source is clean and safe. One recipient, Kemigisha Savious, is twelve years old and used to walk forty five minutes to fetch water, three times per day.
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Savious, in the green coat, with her mother and sister
Savious is one of an estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV and AIDS in Uganda, averaging 10% of the population in urban areas and 6% in rural communities. The numbers of those infected are on the rise and many believe this is due to the change in government stance on preventative advocacy, with emphasis shifting from contraception to abstinence. NGOs and health workers face the tripartite challenge of treating, preventing and changing attitudes towards the disease.
3 image Another recipient family in Buranga – Frank, with his mother and sister.
As part of their child sponsorship programme Compassion International support the medical needs of infected beneficiaries and their families. In Buranga this equates to approximately 5% of families. Project Director Andrew Muzahura explains that the biggest risk for those infected is secondary, opportunistic infection; “It’s very important that children with HIV are careful about their health. It depends a lot on the care-givers who have a responsibility not to overwork the children and to ensure they stay in hygienic conditions”. He holds workshops on the “Dos and Don’ts” of caring for someone with HIV, with the aim of also combating local myths and stigmas surrounding the disease. Only a few years ago an infected family would be ostracised from the community but with education relationships have changed drastically. Water provision aids relations, as those with tanks are often able to help their neighbours with a surplus of water during the rainy season.
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Children carrying water
For Savious and her family being given a rainwater-harvesting tank means a clean source of water, which highly reduces their risk of secondary infection. Mr Muzahura also explains, “being careful about hygiene means using more water than an average family, which is a problem because they should also be wary of sending the children out working so often”.
These days, instead of fetching water, Kemigisha Savious spends her time after school studying science and maths. She hopes that when she finishes school she will serve her community as a nurse.
The Buganda Child Development centre is a Compassion assisted project caring for AIDS affected families and in particular the children of affected parents.
The area is very hilly and is home to approx. 26,200 residents. Typical houses are constructed of dirt floors, clay walls and corrugated tin roofs. The primary ethnic group is Bakiga and the most commonly spoken language is Rukiga. The regional diet consists of bananas, beans, sorghum, potatoes and vegetables. Common health problems in this area include AIDS and malaria. Most adults in Buranga are unemployed but some work as subsistence farmers and earn the equivalent of US$6 per month.
A household water tanks costs around £400 – this includes training in maintenance and sanitation. Our programme is ongoing and donations are gratefully accepted at www.fresh2o.org/donate