My Gift With A Difference in action

Sarah Nakate with her bio-sand water filter

Sarah Nakate with her bio-sand water filter.

For my birthday I was given a Gift With A Difference. So I was delighted when, in November on a field trip with A Rocha Uganda, I saw my gift in use. The gift, a bio-sand water filter, had been given to Sarah Nakate, a 55 year old lady in Kiti B, in Wakiso District north of Kampala, Uganda.

It was the rainy season and the previous day it had rained in torrents continuously from early morning until the evening. We set off for Kiti B with Susan and Henry from A Rocha Uganda. As we turned off the main highway and onto a side road it was easy to see the impact of the rains. Driving down a hill, we saw a temporary lake in the fields on each side of the road. The road itself was under several inches of water and one side was closed as a large hole had appeared overnight. We continued for some time then turned onto a mud “road” which our driver assured us was passable. Slipping and sliding along for a short distance we reached the turn-off to the house we were visiting. At our second attempt we managed to drive onto this road and thankfully soon came to a stop at our destination, the tyres on the vehicle covered in thick red mud and grass.

We were welcomed by Sarah’s elderly mother and father before Sarah herself came and gave me an enormous hug! Sarah’s husband arrived from his job making mud bricks but after greeting us had to return to his work. The two small children that Sarah cares for each day stared wide-eyed, very unsure of the white-skinned visitor.

The spring well where Sarah collects her drinking water each day

The spring well where Sarah collects her drinking water each day.

Sarah invited us into her simple house. The living room floor was rough with no floor covering and the bare brick walls were dark and depressing. Apart from some basic seating, the only other item in the room was her water filter which she proudly spoke about. Each day she filters enough water for her family and for the neighbouring family which includes the children she cares for.

A five minute walk along narrow paths took us to the spring well where Sarah and other women from the village collect water each day. The water was muddy and brown from the soil that had been washed into it by the rains. Sarah showed us how she would go down the slippery slope and collect water from the well.

We returned to Sarah’s house where she told us how, if she drank water from this well, she would be sick before the evening. Since getting the water filter she no longer boils the water. She was delighted to tell us that her family and her neighbour’s family have not suffered from typhoid or other water-related health problems since they started drinking the filtered water.

Sarah holds her drinking water before filtration and Angela holds the filtered water

Sarah holds her drinking water before filtration and Angela holds the filtered water.

This one bio-sand water filter provides clean, drinkable water for 6 adults and 5 children. It has had a positive impact on their health and enabled them to save money that was previously needed to pay for firewood to boil their drinking water.

No-one should have to drink filthy water like Sarah used to do. If you would like to help other families like Sarah’s or purchase another gift which helps local people and has a positive environmental impact, take a look at the website

Story by Angela McKay, A Rocha International’s Environmental Education Coordinator. Photos: David McKay. November 2017

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