Here on Siargao Island, accessing clean drinking water has always been a serious problem. During rainy season there is ample water, yet water sources are murky and full of bacteria. Villagers make feeble attempts to filter out sediment before drinking it by placing an old t-shirt over the faucet. This does nothing to eliminate harmful bacteria. During the dry summer season, water trickles out of only a couple of ground pipes. People travel far to fill containers with contaminated water from these sources. There are many contributing factors to the problem. One big one is that the water source in Burgos is an open stream that various animals drink from and defecate in.
Another problem is that almost all septic tanks in communities are not sealed with concrete. With no way to pump septic tanks, and cost for concrete being too high, people leave the sand bottom open. Harmful septic waste then leaches into ground water that people use for cooking and drinking.
In the past, Hope for the Island has served those areas most affected by incidence of disease, by setting up weekly mobile water purifiers for villagers to come and fill up for the week. This made only a small dent in the problem. We at Hope, drink safe water from a controlled source that goes through a purifying unit from Canada. People regularly come to us from the community to fill buckets and bottles for sick family members or for their newborn babies. We are pleased to be able to help, but it is kind of like putting a Band-Aid on a large infected gapping wound.
On our last mission outreach to the areas affected by typhoon Yolanda, God crossed our path with an organization called Waves for Water. They were bringing small portable filters into devastated areas to help meet the needs of those suffering. Some filters were given to us to be used on Bantayan Island for our outreach. It was amazing to see how effective they were to purify the filthiest water.
Recently, more filters were donated to us in order to meet the growing water concerns for suffering communities on our island. Cholera, Typhoid Fever, Salmonella, Amoeba, and E. coli are some water born diseases being controlled. It is incredible to hear testimonies of health from areas once plagued by skin disease, vomiting and diarrhea. Rather than providing meds or financial aid to help send sick kids to the hospital, we are now helping in a more preventative way by helping prevent further incidence of disease.
Presently, 84 water filters have been distributed to 5 out of 6 barangays of Burgos. More filters are committed and soon on the way to meet the needs for other municipalities where we already minister. As we travel in areas to demonstrate how to use these filters, people are overwhelmed with joy. They express how blessed and thankful they are to God because in the past only people with money would have access to safe drinking water. Words are not enough to describe how we feel when we see their smiles and hear their testimonies.