Mercy Aloyo is a fifth grade (primary five) student from Tobi, Uganda, who has just come down with Malaria. Malaria is a parasitic disease carried by mosquitoes that causes flu-like symptoms and can result in serious problems or even death without treatment. Mercy walks about 2 miles (3km) to Pakeyo Health Center II in order to get the medicine she needs. The center does not have an indoor waiting room, so she waits with the other patients in the hot midday sun to see one of Payeko’s health professionals.
Pakeyo Health Center II is a very busy facility which sees over fifty patients a day and currently does not have a source of running water. The healthcare workers are often too busy tending to patients to fetch water throughout the day. When this happens, patients like Mercy are given the task of getting water for everyone to drink while they wait to receive care. Last week while Mercy was waiting to receive her treatment she was sent to fetch water from the closest source, a community well that sits on the other side of Pakeyo’s main road.
As everyone who is sent to fetch water does, Mercy took the ten liter jug and waited for a break in traffic before crossing the road. She then waited in line with the other community members, filled up the jug when it was her turn, and crossed back to the center, this time hauling 22lb (1 kg) of water. This dangerous activity is what allows Mercy and the other patients to stay hydrated while they wait to be seen, and so Mercy is happy to do it despite her fear of crossing such a busy road. Even though she is a young girl, she has been the best choice to fetch water because the other patients are often too sick to help.
Getting the water to Pakeyo Health Center II is not the only challenge posed by the lack of a well at the facility. If there were running water at Pakeyo, patients would bring their own water jugs to fill and drink directly from them. Since they are all sharing one jug, they also must share the only available cup. This poses serious health risks, especially with the current coronavirus pandemic. Having a well at the center would mean that not only would the patients have adequate water to drink, but they would also be better able to keep themselves and their families safe from coronavirus.
Thanks to a generous Drop in the Bucket donor, the Pakeyo Health Center now has it’s own source of clean water due to the newly drilled well.