In the village of Embaseni, devastatingly high levels of fluoride seep into your bones. It dictates the shape of the person you become.
Babu Lazaro was born in Embaseni, where the water is neither clean nor safe. The rivers run with ‘maji ya chai’ – water the color of tea. Its most benign form manifests in people’s smiles. Their teeth are stained a dark brown. Others, like Babu Lazaro, are disabled.
Bibi Lazaro, his wife, was in perfect health when she moved to Embaseni at 20. But she began to experience pain in her waist, hips and back in her new home. Walking went from something Bibi never thought about to a painful challenge. As she says, there’s nothing wrong with the human body – it’s the ingredients you put into it that turn things awry.
The problem was the water.
With their seven children grown and age advancing their conditions, it had long been a health hazard, but now it was also becoming impossible to walk for water.
If you can’t fetch water yourself, you must pay to have it brought to you. If you can’t pay, you resort to the water nearby that you know to be unsafe. What choice do you have?
Bibi’s face splits into an enormous smile, and she claps as she remembers when Save the Rain built their rainwater harvesting system. “I can’t even describe it,” she says.
The transformation was inconceivable. They suddenly had enough to meet their needs– right in their backyard. And they’re not poisoning themselves with every sip.
Their health has changed too. Bibi’s legs stopped shaking, and she can straighten them and walk.
Now, freed by possibility, they listen for rain and count their blessings with every drop.
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