Global Outreach

Water is Life: Clean Drinking Water in Uganda

Posted by Madeleine Richey on Nov 21, 2014 3:52:00 PM

Ugandans have a saying that “Water is Life.” Children draw water from dirty streams and wells, canary yellow jerry cans stained with dirt balanced precariously on their heads or clutched in thin fingers. It gushes from pipes, or rain barrels, coveted by the masses. But it’s not clean. It’s not safe. Sometimes it’s like drinking poison.

The children in our boarding school program are less at risk for waterborne illnesses since the water they receive at school is filtered. But the children in our day school program are home every morning and evening, drinking the water that is available there. Very rarely is it filtered.


Filling jerry cans from a water pipe Filling jerry cans from a water pipe

Earlier this year a child in our program was hospitalized (and continues to be under a doctor’s care as an outpatient) as a result of drinking unfiltered water. He started complaining of a twisting sensation in his stomach—severe abdominal pain that forced him to miss school, and to shuffle between hospitals in search of adequate medical care.

Our Location Coordinator in Uganda, Sr. Carolyne, has been in almost constant contact with the mother, concern mounting as several doctors failed to find an adequate reason for the boy’s suffering. He lost weight, and complained of more and more pain.


Carrying full jerry cans home Carrying full jerry cans home

Possible diagnoses included typhoid, typhoid ulcer, and pancreatitis. They have put him on antibiotics, and have seen some improvement, but the problem never seems to go away. It’s alarming to watch a young boy deteriorate and have no substantial lead to point you in the right direction for treatment. Though the direct cause hasn’t been identified yet, the doctors have reached a consensus. The cause of the problem? Drinking unfiltered water.


Placing the strainer in the bucket filter Placing the strainer in the bucket filter for the initial filtration

Filtered water saves lives in a very real way. Taking a sip of water is a gamble for many children—Russian roulette without a gun. Their health is at stake. According to UNICEF, in 2011, 768 billion people had to rely on water sources that had not been filtered or improved in any way. ( More information on effects of unclean drinking water can be found at:


Adding water for filtration The system uses hollow-fiber membrane filtration technology in the bottom of the 5-gallon bucket.

That’s why CARITAS For Children has started a campaign to purchase 100 water filters and distribute them to children in our program who are in need of clean water. Each filter costs $100, and an anonymous donor has offered to match each filter bought before Christmas, up to 25 units. If you are already a sponsor, your donation will purchase a filter for your child’s family.

Here are some quick facts about the filter from the distributor, Stonehouse Water Technologies:

  • Double 0.1-micron filter is capable of removing >99.999% of all bacteria including giardia, and cryptosporidium.
  • Each filter is good for up to 1 million gallons.
  • Purifies water to meet World Health Organization standards. Filter is good for up to 1 million gallons!


Dispensing clean water after it has been purified through the filter mechanism in the bottom of the bucket Dispensing clean water after it has been purified through the filter mechanism in the bottom of the bucket

Please consider donating to this program to provide clean drinking water to children in need. Click here to donate to the CARITAS For Children Water Filter Project.

You may also send a check with “Water Filter Project” written in the memo area to:

CARITAS For Children

ATTN: Water Filter Project

7400 West National Ave.

Milwaukee, WI 53214

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