The "whys" of filtering water
(A SAMPLE STORY)
"I have never been to a university, but I do have common sense. I got it from my mother's breast."
Once upon a time, there was a four-year-old boy named Simplice living in a lovely little village called Kabo. The village was many kilometers from the nearest town and the roads were difficult to travel, so the people of Kabo stayed close to home, producing most of what they needed in their fields and enjoying fruit from the many mango, banana, and avocado trees, which also provided shade during the long hot afternoons.
The village of Kabo had changed recently. Most of the children, including Simplice, seemed healthier than in recent years. The crops in the field were producing better now and the people of Kabo seemed happier. Not even a year ago, Kabo had been seriously contaminated with guinea worm disease. Then a group of health workers and a Peace Corps Volunteer came to visit a few times and explained why guinea worm was a problem in their village. They demonstrated a method of pouring drinking water through a cloth filter to remove the dangerous cyclops. that causes guinea worm. After the visits by the health workers, the people of Kabo talked among themselves and decided to use their filters and to avoid recontamination of their water by helping out their neighbors who suffered with the guinea worm disease. That way the sick neighbors wouldn't have to step in the pond water themselves and reinfect it with guinea worm larvae. In just a year's time, the number of guinea worm cases was reduced by more than half. The people of Kabo were seeing that life was better-much better-without guinea worm disease.
Our little friend Simplice, being a healthy curious four-year-old, was constantly posing questions to his parents, neighbors, and friends. "How come I can't fly like the birds, Mama?" "What is Papa doing?" "Why?" "How do my eyes know when to open in the morning?" "Why?" "When am I going to get bigger like Papa?" "How come the trees don't have mangos right now?" "Why?" "But what's a season?" "Why?" "How come Grandpa has worms coming out of his legs?" "But why?!!"
One day Simplice walked with his mother and auntie to collect water from the pond that was nearby. He heard his mother and auntie talking about the worms I on Grandpa's legs.
"The old man is suffering now with his guinea worm. His crops are failing. He's barely able to walk and he has much trouble to sleep at night," Simplice's mother said sadly.
"But why does Grandpa have the worms, Mama?" Simplice asked.
"He drank some bad water my son, water that had guinea worm cyclops. in it and now the grown-up worms want to come out."
"But why did Grandpa drink the bad water, Mama?" he asked in confusion.
"He didn't know it was bad water," she said. "It didn't look bad, it didn't taste bad, but the guinea worm germs were in it and now Grandpa is very sick."
A few moments later Simplice asked, "How come when I drink the water I don't get the worms, too, Mama?"
"Because we always use this, don't we my son?" and she showed him the cloth filter used to strain the pond water into her calabasse.
"But why?" Simplice asked for the hundredth time already that day.
"Because if we pour the pond water through this filter before we drink it, we won't have any of those cyclops. in our water and we won't get sick with the guinea worm," she said confidently.
Simplice thought for a moment before he asked, "But how come Grandpa got sick? He drinks the water that you pour through the cloth."
"Well, Grandpa drank some water when he was away from home and he didn't pour it through a cloth," she said. "Maybe he was working in the fields and drank from the swamp that is nearby. Maybe it was when he traveled to visit his brother in Taparou. He probably drank water from many different places and he didn't know that the water was bad," she tried to explain.
"But why, Mama? I don't want Grandpa to be sick. I don't wanna see those worms in Grandpa's legs. Why do we have to have worms in our water, Mama? Why? Why?" he began to cry.
Simplice's mother just looked at him and said, "Come help me to filter this water, my son, and let's go back to see how Grandpa is doing."
"One thing is clear to me: We as human beings, must be willing to accept people who are different from ourselves."
QUESTIONS TO PROMOTE DISCUSSION
1. How and why had the village of Kabo changed recently?
2. How would you respond to Simplice's question, of "Why do we have to have worms in our water?"
3. What can the people of Kabo do to totally eradicate guinea worm from their village?
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