Like all mothers, Mary wants to keep her children healthy.
A major concern for the mother of three is her children becoming very ill with vomiting and diarrhea, a common and sadly sometimes devastating illness for children in Kiribati. Cramped living conditions and lack of access to clean drinking water increase the risk of vomiting and diarrhea for children.
Just prior to ChildFund visiting Mary's home, her son had fallen ill with diarrhea and Mary had been afraid for this health. Waterborne diseases are common in Kiribati and this country has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, which can be attributed to infantile diarrhea.
Her water failed the test and now Mary knows she must boil water for her children to drink. The ChildFund team were also able to talk with her about how to improve hygiene around her home, like washing all baby bottles, cups and plates in boiled water.
To do a household drinking water quality test, the ChildFund team use a simple and inexpensive test with results visible on the spot. They then help the families identify ways to improve drinking water quality.
Mary says she could not hold back her "feeling of joy" when her contaminated water was identified. She even held the results of her contaminated water test high up in air so others in the community around her could see.
“I am so happy to see my water result, this encourages me now to maintain water boiling”.
Mary's husband is a seasonal worker overseas and most of the time she cares for her three children (two girls aged 10 and 2 and her infant son) on her own. She recently took part in ChildFund’s new household resilience programme, where local staff work with community members to improve nutrition, water and sanitation in their households. She also took part in Positive Parenting, a programme that equips parents with skills to help them manage some parenting challenges. For example gaining children's cooperation through the use of positive reinforcement rather than punishment.
For Mary it was a "blessing" to take part in the ChildFund programme and she hopes all households could take part to learn new skills better care for their children and keep them healthy.
Mary now prepares more nutritionally balanced meals for her children. She also reminds them to wash their hands before eating, with her oldest daughter already washing them on her own without being asked.
ChildFund's work in the Pacific, Kiribati
For more than four years ChildFund has been working with communities in Betio and the team has developed strong, trusted relationships with local families and a range of government and community stakeholders through the delivery of community development assistance programming.
Betio is located in Kiribati's capital South Tarawa, where about a third of the country's approximately 119,000 population live. Betio, is the most densely populated areas of South Tarawa with extended family members living in one household. These households also often lack key infrastructure and facilities, meaning that access to clean water and sanitation facilities is limited.
ChildFund is working with the community on projects around learning and engagement opportunities, child protection and also household and community resilience. Made possible through support from ChildFund New Zealand supporters and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Impact Programme.
Read more about ChildFund's work in Kiribati
Help even more children in the Pacific