In March I was privileged to be able to travel to Eastern Samar and install water filters into villages and schools.
This was an amazing experience, one that you all should think about, as it demonstrated to me first hand what the real position that this country faces in relation to providing ‘clean water’ to its peoples.
Over a two-week period we travelled from Jipapad at the top of the province, to Mercedesat the bottom of the province and during that time trained and distributed 147 Sawyer water filters to the following:
- 15 schools totalling 2,000 students, with schools ranging from 1200 to 60 students.
- Houses 1100 people.
One of the things that impacted me, and I must say this with a heavy heart, was a village in Jiapad where a team of seven from INA together with a support team of interpreters and an army escort travelled four hours by bus, then walked for 2 hours across fairly rugged landscape, crossing a river three times [no bridges in place] to arrive at a village that had just been relocated.
This relocation was the result of severe storms that caused flooding which washed away their houses, so the local government found some safer land on which they could rebuild. This is what they were doing as we approached.
Seeing the delight on their faces when we told them that we had rice and water filters was amazing.
The second thing that really impacted me was in the Mercedes area at the bottom of the island on the last day where after 2.5 hours in a bus we stopped at the Barangay of Timala, where we distributed water filters.
At the school I asked the principle where I could get some water to show them how it all worked and she said ‘we don’t have any water. After I recovered from that statement I was informed that the children, some 60 of them, bring water with them from home each day, to wash hands and drink.
This sort of threw me but we managed to get some water from a house some 100 meters away and demonstrated the system for which they were truly thankful. I suggested that they collect rainwater and they indicated they would in the future. This school is for a ‘revisit’ in September when INA goes back.