I met her on a plane. We were both traveling to Washington, DC – her to do her work for Habitat for Humanity and me for my healthcare consulting practice. Two months later we met again…on the same flight to DC. We talked and she showed me a water back pack carrier she had with her in her suitcase. I knew instantly this water back pack carrier could change the lives of the women in Marsabit who walk up to 8 hours carrying water in yellow 20L jerry cans.
The woman I speak of is Liz Blake, Vice President at Habitat for Humanity. She had learned of the water pack carriers and had become passionate about helping to get them to the women and children who carried water on the backs or on their heads long distances. The packs have been developed by Grief, a large packing company. Liz and I agreed to meet when we were both in Atlanta.
A few weeks later I met with Liz and showed her a video David Gruber, co-founder of Partners for Care, had made showing the children in Marsabit being treated for jiggers. Liz understood the connection between the lack of water and the jigger infestation of the children. She said, “No child should live like that”.
The water packs are new and Grief wants to “field test” them to see how women would accept them, determine how much time women can save by using the back pack water carrier to carry their water and to find ways to substitute the carriers for the jerry cans. There have been 3 studies to date – one in Guatemala, one in rural Kenya and one in Haiti by Partners for Health. Partners for Care is conducting the 4th study in Marsabit.
Last week we went with Liz on the missionary plane to Marsabit to show Pastor Hirbo the water packs. We went with Pastor Hirbo to Parkishon so he could train the Rendile woman on how to use the packs. The Rendile laughed and smiled at this new way to carry water.
Hopefully, this difficult way of carrying water will someday be obsolete
Water back packs – much easier for women to carry water
Tomorrow we return on the missionary plane to take more back pack carriers and train community health workers on the proper use of the packs. A representative from Grief is fling in from Amsterdam tomorrow morning to travel with us to Marsabit.
There are many people working on an international launch to get these packs to become the standard way to carry water replacing the unsafe jerry cans. Partners for Care is excited to partner with the people and organizations working on this initiative.
We feel very blessed to be a part of changing the lives of women and children – one water back pack at a time!
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