Jessi Gross, Author at WaterStep

“I must help get them well.” – Father Mungai

Father MungaiHi, my name is Father Joseph. I am an ordained Catholic priest from Kenya. I have always felt it my calling to serve and care for people, and that is why I wanted to become a priest. When I was in primary school, I was involved with my church, where I was able to serve different people around the world. This is my passion.

I currently serve 17 smaller churches, 11 Catholic schools, and 5,000-10,000 families. The majority of the people we serve are orphaned children, and most of these people and children have HIV or Aids.

The most common battle I witness is unsafe water. Water does not exist in my country like it does in America. Where I serve is a very dry place. We have filters, but you cannot use a filter if there is no water. My parish has tried several options to create a reliable system for safe water, but everything has failed. We have a pump, but without money, it cannot be repaired properly.

The Wait for Water

I look at the future and am concerned. I have become very disappointed in my ministry, because I believe you must care for the whole person: spirit and body. I go to visit families, and in my culture, you are served tea and/or water, and to reject this tradition is a rejection of the person. So, to not offend people, I drink it and pray that I do not get sick. However, I have personally had typhoid because I drank unsafe water.

My people see their priest as their solution because they cannot always afford to go to the hospital. So, they come to me for healing. I usually see 5-6 people a day to be annointed as a result of water-borne illness and poor sanitation. Mothers will tell me, “My child isn’t in school.” Men will tell me, “I lost my job.” Everything is connected to water. People must drink something, and because there is no water, they do not have time to consider whether it is safe or not. They know why they are sick, but what else can they do?

The lack of water is a double tragedy. People nor livestock can survive without water, which means people suffer from lack of food and water. They do not choose between being hungry or thirsty–they are always hungry and always thirsty because there is no safe water. Also, during the dry seasons, there is a significant drop in school attendance. Children must drop out of school to risk their lives walking long distances on unsafe roads at vulnerable times of day to fetch water that is killing them.

I am thankful that I have found WaterStep on social media, and am hopeful for access to safe water with their tools and support. I want this nightmare of unsafe water to go away, and WaterStep is helping me imagine that reality. I can’t just rely on sacraments and preaching. If peoples’ bodies are unhealthy, I cannot preach–I must help them get well. 

You can stop the double tragedy in communities like mine, and give hope for safer and healthier lives.

Donate to WaterStep now.

Bless you,
Father Joseph Mungai, Kenya


Saving Refugees in Nigeria: Part One

We are never at a shortage for thirsty communities contacting us, requesting assistance for safe water. This year, WaterStep intentionally focused on developing sustainable relationships through multi-phase projects with well-vetted partners. International partners have to complete applications, proving their dedication to the long-term project, and agree to continue to provide data on the outcomes of WaterStep’s water, health, and sanitation solutions. Currently, we are working with 14+ partners, and hope to add 10 more in 2017.

One of these partnerships is with an organization, Victims of Violence, in Nigeria. Victim of Violence works to provide aid and relief to refugees who are fleeing for their lives from the Boko Haram insurgency. These are some of the world’s most vulnerable people. WaterStep has been training Victims of Violence through our Virtual Classroom, eliminating the cost of travel, which allows us to send more technology and provide support when needed.

This is a very special project and partnership. What good is it to flee for our lives, only to die of unsafe water? Louisville’s own, Chris Kenning, is currently in Nigeria, gathering the stories of these refugees, and their journey for longer, fuller, healthier lives. This his first report:

 

part-one-nigeria

It’s been called one of the world’s biggest humanitarian disasters – millions of Nigerians in makeshift camps, homes destroyed by war and crowded into host communities without enough aid.
And it’s the latest global hotspot where Louisville’s WaterStep is working to save lives with safe water.
From half a world away, WaterStep is training and equipping a Nigerian charity to bring safe water and sanitation to camps for the displaced, and former war zones, torn by Boko Haram’s Islamic insurgency.
My name is Chris Kenning, and I’ve written about WaterStep’s response to disasters in Haiti and the Philippines as a Courier-Journal reporter. But this time, I’ll be visiting Nigeria as a WaterStep volunteer – helping WaterStep document its own story.
This month, I’m accompanying WaterStep’s Nigerian partner charity, Victims of Violence, to towns like Maiduguri, Bama, Mongonu and other hard-to-reach areas near the Cameroon border, where they’re looking to install sustainable water chlorinators that can provide 10,000 gallons of safe water a day, and disperse bleach-making devices for sanitation to a population in dire need.
The Nigerian military’s 2015 offensive has gained ground against Boko Haram, which has been terrorizing Nigeria since 2009. Most people know them from the 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls, which sparked the “Bring Back Our Girls” movement. Recently, the military has declared many once-inaccessible cities and towns in the northeast part of the country to be liberated.
But last month, the Washington Post reported that in its wake “more than 3 million people displaced and isolated by the militants are facing one of the world’s biggest humanitarian disasters. Every day, more children are dying because there isn’t enough food. Curable illnesses are killing others. Even polio has returned.” Underfunded aid groups are struggling to meet the need.
More than a million are living in camps, bombed-out buildings and burdened communities, receiving minimal supplies from international organizations, the Post reported. Twice as many residents are still inaccessible because of the Boko Haram fighters, who control their villages or patrol the surrounding areas, the report said.
Clean water and sanitation are a big problem, per charity groups in Nigeria. WaterStep has begun to help with simple, sustainable and small safe water devices, which are helping by sidestepping the expense and logistics of transporting massive amounts of bottled water into remote areas.
It’s part of WaterStep’s belief that the best, most sustainable solutions to water, health, and sanitation problems are rooted in simple tools and effective training."

 

Please follow along as we post updates at www.facebook.com/WaterStep, and stay tuned at www.waterstep.org throughout the rest of the year for stories and photos about those WaterStep is helping in one of the globe’s high-profile trouble spots.

And here’s how to help: https://waterstep.org/donate


“I want to do my part.”

WaterStep is well-known for the work we do internationally. But, what often goes unnoticed is our local impact. WaterStep is dedicated to the cultivation of young people, challenging and equipping them to change the world and serve others. Not only are you saving lives in the developing world, but you are a part of shaping the valuable, young minds of our future. For this month’s Works of Water, it is our honor to introduce you to Rachel.

 

unknown-1“Hi, I’m Rachel. I am from Louisville, and graduate from Assumption High School.  When I was young, I really never knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. All I knew is that I wanted to travel the world and help people. Girl Scouts and my mom instilled in me ideas of compassion and the importance of seeing, and helping those around you. My passion for helping others, and desire to understand new cultures, has been a fundamental part of my life for as long as I can remember. 

In January 2016, I had the opportunity to travel to Uganda for a month. The most meaningful part of the trip was the village home-stay. No documentary or textbook could prepare me to actually experience someone else’s life. It was there that I met Rachel. She was the same age as me, had the same name as me, goes to college, likes boys, and does chores too. It was interesting to experience the similarities, but also be faced with the reality that she gets water with jerry cans from the well. This trip gave me a personal, firsthand connection in cultural understandings, as well as the experience of limited access to water. I was reminded of why I want to do my part in creating a better world. 

In high school I had the opportunity to be a WaterStep Ambassador. It was WaterStep’s first time piloting the Ambassador Program. Despite my involvement fizzling out, I never forgot their awesome mission. Five years later, I wanted to find a summer opportunity where I could gain experience in the Public Health field. It was this past summer that I made my way back to WaterStep, and once again, fell in love with the mission.

WaterStep gave me more than I could have ever imagined this summer. This opportunity allowed me to be surrounded by passionate individuals, innovative technologies that solve real world problems, and to observe successful, international partnerships.

WaterStep also gave me direction and skills that I know I will value in my future. Just wanting to help people isn’t enough to create change. I need skills and experience, and working at WaterStep strengthened in me new areas, such as Development. Having a fundamental knowledge of ways to bring safe water and sanitation to communities, paired with Development skills, means I can begin bring change in multiple ways, both to the field and behind the scenes. Being at WaterStep helped me develop my passion, skills, and goals, better preparing me for my next step, and my future.

I am currently interning in Washington, D.C. for Women of Peace Corps Legacy, and Health Volunteers Overseas, and will graduate from Centre College this spring. I have decided that I wanted to pursue Public Health as my venue for creating positive changes in communities, both close to home and abroad. In one month I will begin the year-long process of applying to the Peace Corps. I hope to volunteer in a health posting for 2 years. I fully anticipate that water and women’s health education will be an integral part of my future, especially since working with WaterStep.

I want to continue to explore the world, and gain new experiences that open my eyes to different perspectives. I want to continue to change and grow as a person, so I can better help others.

Thank you for supporting me. Without your support of WaterStep and the work they do in developing communities, I would not have had this valuable experience. I consider you an agent of change in helping me develop the skills I need to see and bring change to the world around me. Thank you.”


CQ Jam 2016

CQ Jam ad

 

 

Join us this year at the 4th Annual CQ Jam!

CQ Jam will be held at Captain’s Quarters Riverside Grille on Saturday, September 10 from 2pm to 10pm.

The night of great music and beautiful scenery benefits WaterStep, the Louisville-based organization that works to save lives around the world with safe water. There will be feature performances by Lonza Bartlett of the Legacy Platters and Motown artist AJ Mullins.

Doors open at 12pm and the suggested donation is $20 per person, which will fully go towards saving lives with safe water.

For more information, call (502) 568-6342, or contact Jessi at Jessi.Gross@WaterStep.org

 


Responding in Nepal

“Kathmandu is getting back to normal now, but water is not.”

That’s what N.D. Lama told me when I spoke with him yesterday about the current situation in Nepal, where a 7.8 earthquake hit the central region of the country late last month.  N.D., a seminary student from Nepal, is working to bring services to the areas most affected.

“Water is a big issue,” said N.D about the areas where he is working. “We got some water tablets and distributed them but it was not enough.” N.D. and his team, who have provided health and education services in Nepal over the last decade, attended a training at WaterStep this past week in preparation to train responders in Nepal to set up mini water treatment systems in communities devastated by the earthquake.

 

Nepal safe water disaster relief

 

N.D. spoke of the chaos permeating Nepal. “People are in turmoil. They lost maybe half of their relatives. Life is difficult, but even though they lost their homes, they have hope. We are trying to bring hope.”

Despite decreased media attention, safe drinking water is still scarce and earthquake victims are in danger of waterborne illness that often comes in the aftermath of a natural disaster. “Our challenge is if they don’t get water soon, there will be another disaster – an epidemic or disease will come next.”

WaterStep is sending N.D.’s team to equip responders in Kathmandu with water kits to provide safe water to those at highest risk of waterborne illness. Each of these kits can service up to 10,000 people a day and can provide safe water for years.

You can be a part of helping Nepal rebuild. By giving to Nepal, you will not only help provide immediate relief, but will equip communities with safe water for years to come. Give today and help Nepal recover.

 

 Give to Nepal

Nepal safe water disaster relief 4