After suffering the effects of a waterborne disease, new access to clean water is giving young Luta, and many other children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a new outlook on life.
By Alain Mwaku. Edited by Chris Clouzet, World Vision U.S.
Luta, 11, suffered for years from a skin disease brought on by drinking unclean well water. For two years, she and her mother went to the hospital for treatments — a difficult time for both of them.
“Luta developed a goiter to the neck while she was always weak, losing weight and appetite,” says Ngoie Muntentu, Luta’s mother.
In the Kasungami area where Luta lives, the lack of clean water required people to access the Lubumbashi River and nearby wells for their water. Local children were especially vulnerable to the waterborne diseases, and the child mortality rate was high.
The chief doctor of the Kasungami health zone says that many children were suffering from belly pains, amoebas, diarrhea, and stomach worms. Luta didn’t know what her own sickness was, but she knew she had a headache, and pain in her cheeks.
“Shivering with vertigo, I was weak, day and night sleeping in the bed,” Luta says. Her eyes turned white, and she developed spots on her entire body. Because of her illness, she couldn’t move or attend her classes, either.
As with other children, Luta’s case was complex, so World Vision intervened with health fees for intensive medical care to save her life. Her mother remembers the initial struggle, and then the recovery process.
“…I was stressed by my daughter’s sickness until World Vision staff decided to send us to the hospital,” says Ngoie. “After the hospital, people from World Vision brought food and soya beans which helped [Luta] to recover her health quickly.”
Fortunately, the water situation for Luta’s family — and others — is changing. The Kasungami community is working with World Vision to drill boreholes near the houses. People are also being encouraged to use clean water to maintain their children’s good health and reduce frequent illness.
This important project is successfully reducing the spread of waterborne diseases, but there is still work to be done. There are not enough boreholes to cover everyone’s needs and the community continues to request special funds.
“Boreholes are crowded here,” Ngoie says. “I can draw [five to 10 gallons] of clean water per day, which allow my family to drink and cook the food.” She still uses well water for housework like washing, and separates the drinking water into different containers.
Luta has come a long way and is healthy and happy once again. She attends her fourth-grade classes at the local primary school, constructed and equipped by World Vision in Kasungami, and helps her mother around the house — including fetching water.
“I have been told to always drink good water from the borehole,” she says. “Now I’m strong [enough] to transport water from the borehole and help my mother [do housework] by cleaning plates.”
Luta’s successful recovery and new access to clean water is a blessing. World Vision hopes that many other children in Kasungami will soon have the same experience.
Pray for children like Luta in the Congo who must continue to drink contaminated well water and risk suffering the effects of waterborne diseases — possibly for years. Thank God that Luta, and others, have found healing and transformation because of the boreholes that provide clean water.
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