Saturday, May 30, 2015

“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.” ― Mandy Hale

Without talking about the pros and cons of his presidency, I think that President Carter is far and away the best former president we have had in a long, long time.  He oversees elections, is dedicated to Habitat for Humanity, builds homes in Haiti, and his Carter Center is dedicated to the eradication for parasites that kill millions all over the world.  We saw a program the other day that just dealt with what the Carter Center had been doing to try to wipe out the Guinea Worm which is far too gross for me to describe it here.  Look it up on Google for pictures (mostly gross) and explanations.  The key point is that around 1990 there were three and half million cases of Guinea Worm all over the world.  As a direct result of the Carter Center, and President Carter himself (he often has to deal directly with the presidents or dictators of the countries he is trying to help) the number of cases of Guinea Worm has dropped from three and half million just 25 years ago to 126 known cases.  This parasite only lives in humans, so it can be made extinct and will never again kill children, probably in the next couple of years.  The Center works to eradicate the kind of parasites that bring death and disease and only live in humans.  It is much harder to eliminate parasites that can be carried by other animals or insects (like malaria), so they are concentrating on those that only affect humans and can be wiped out.  We were blown away by what they have done and even more so by how they have done it.  They give no money to other governments and only work where they can send in their own doctors and medical staff who will recruit volunteers by the thousands (all unpaid—hence volunteers).  This way they control the money, and work on teaching the people in the country how to fight the parasites and assist them with doing the lion’s share of the work until the locals can take over the project themselves.  We were quite proud to discover that our biosand filters prevent Guinea Worms from getting into the water supply (they are water borne).  In fact, our biosand filters eliminate every parasite, microbe, and bacteria that carry cholera, dysentery, worms of many types, and can eliminate the gastrointestinal diseases that plague so much of the world.  Not bad for a few days work making a filter and then years of maintenance-free service from the filter.  We have produced and placed over 500 of these that provide safe, clean water to as many as 15,000 people a day.  They are in primary schools, preschools, secondary schools, orphanages, hospitals, and many private homes and government offices.  We have barely scratched the surface of the need but change is slow here and difficult to get people to accept.  We found two filters gathering dust at a hospital in Mwanza because the nurses we had trained were afraid of them.  Most of the missionaries here use our biosand filters with some coming from ten to fifteen hours away by car just to pick them up.  We have them as far away as Dar Es Salaam (three), two in Dodoma, three in Shinyanga, three in Geita, and we have no way of knowing how many have been made and placed in the Congo near rebel territory, but we know they have a mold and people we trained to make them.  We also don’t know how many have been produced and placed with the Masaai people north of Arusha, but again, we gave them a mold and trained them in their production.  The thanks all go to Jerry Buckingham, from Cherokee Village, Arkansas, who traveled to Canada to learn from the source and who built the first one here in Bunda (we are still using it in our home).  Not to mention that we are working with some people from Tyson Foods and World Vision International in July on doing even more with them.  I think President Carter would be pleased with our efforts, at least that’s what I want to believe.  I don’t think any effort to save the lives of children and others from water borne diseases is wasted or unimportant.  We do what we can, where we are, with what we have.  The quote at the right states what we believe as well.
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