In January 2012 ADRA Timor-Leste, Asia’s newest ADRA office, began its very first project, “Clean Water for Uma Tolu”. The goal was to provide clean water within a 2 minute walking distance to over 180 households.
Some of the villagers previously used shallow wells that a local laboratory declared to have e-coli levels “too numerous to count”. Other villagers had to walk up to 2 km to the river in order to wash and hand carry unclean river water to their homes for cooking and drinking.
Now that the 12 pump stations have been installed, each village chief and many villagers have expressed their joy and delight for having clean water so close to their homes. They say it tastes very good, and when they wash themselves it doesn’t make their skin itch, as did the water from their shallow wells.
Along with this water project, we also did hygiene education for women as well as in the local school. We had an overwhelming response from the women in each village who participated in the training. We targeted 280 women with direct training on hygiene but ended up with well over 450 attending! They all learned body hygiene, kitchen hygiene, and sanitation hygiene.
One villager, Maria Da Silva said, “My family used to drink dirty water from the river and would often get diarrhea from it. I would also use a lot of my time and energy to fetch water from the river at least twice a day and sometimes more. My family would never wash their hands before eating or after going to the toilet. [Now] it takes me a few minutes to get water and my family washes their hands regularly.”
Maria gratefully thanked ADRA for its work in Uma Tolu saying, “We are grateful that ADRA has brought clean water to our community. We feel free in using it to drink and to wash knowing that it will not make us sick and make our skin itchy. When I encourage my children to wash their hands, they actually understand why because ADRA did hygiene training at their school. ”