Sunday, 12 September 2010
Every morning, just before 7am, I go up to the nurseries to take care of some early morning chores. One of the things I do is prepare special diets for babies that have milk-protein allergies or severe lactose-intolerance.
Many of the children in our care suffer from repeated and prolonged episodes of diarrhoea. This is often precipitated by exposure to viruses, bacteria, and parasites in our drinking water that cause infection, diarrhoea, vomiting, and damage to the wall of the gut that make our children intolerant to lactose and more vulnerable to other intestinal infections. Lactose intolerance causes stomach cramps and more diarrhoea, which, impairs their ability to absorb nutrients on an ongoing basis, leading to malnutrition and impaired immune function. Chronic diarrhoea is debilitating and it is a real and present threat to children's health, If I suspect that a child's diarrhoea is being caused by or being made worse by lactose intolerance, I put that child on a lactose-free diet, so that diarrhoea and stomach cramps do not impair their appetite and their recovery.On Friday last week, I was excited to see our new water filtration system in operation at GLA's main house. Our previous filtration system was only able to treat our drinking water. We used untreated water for washing clothes, and dishes and for bathing. All of the water that came out of the taps was untreated and many people contracted diarrhoea and vomiting from this untreated water. Many of Haiti's water sources are contaminated, and at GLA, we regularly see the effects of water-borne disease.
Earlier this year, Donley, a premature baby died at GLA, from complications of gastroenteritis. Last year, we had to perform CPR on another infant who became critically ill after contracting diarrhoea. Then, in March, Baby Luc, a low-birth weight, baby became severely malnourished during a bout of diarrhoea and vomiting that almost cost him his life.
Our new water filtration system comes from Water Missions International, an organization that produces mini water treatment plants for communities in the developing world. Their system has the capacity to treat 10 gallons of water every minute. This means that we will now be able to treat all of our water through a highly effective process of filtration and chemical disinfection. The cost of running this apparatus off of our diesel-powered generator: less than $3 USD per 1000 gallons.
Up until now, we were fortunate just to have access to clean drinking water. The majority of the Haitian people are not so lucky. Many Haitian children are habitually sick from drinking contaminated water. Some become so weak from illness and malnutrition that they die.
It shouldn't be this way. I am giving thanks today, to the God who has increased our blessings, and made it possible for us to improve the health of our children. It is my hope that we will see a significant reduction in water-related disease at this orphanage, over the coming weeks and months. It is my prayer that one day soon, every Haitian child will have access to safe drinking water.
Posted by Susan Westwood at 10:55