Jalal* has lived in his small, rural village all his life.
As a younger man, he had once worked as a seasonal day labourer harvesting crops in the nearby fields, and also as a rickshaw puller - both jobs requiring stamina and muscle. Now, as a 65-year-old grandfather, he has only one leg and struggles to get around on crutches. How did this happen?
Six years ago, after decades of drinking water with a dangerously high concentration of arsenic, Jalal's body finally began to succumb to severe symptoms of arsenic poisoning.
When he went to the hospital the doctor told him that he had gangrene in his right foot due to complications from arsenic poisoning. Soon after, a surgeon amputated one of his toes and eventually, a year later, his entire right leg had to be amputated.
Arsenic contamination of groundwater is a naturally-occurring geological phenomenon which is widespread in this area of south Asia, but it's found in many other parts of the world as well - in both developed and developing countries. In south Asia, poverty, high population density and other contributing factors have made it such a major public health crisis here.
Because no villages in our area have water treatment plants, the local people drink untreated well water which, unlike water from ponds or rivers, is generally free from bacteria but contains lots of arsenic.
Two years ago, one of our field workers met Jalal when they went to his village in order to test water and look for arsenicosis patients. In addition to ensuring Jalal has access to a source of safe drinking water source, we have also accepted him into our patient management programme in order to help prevent any further arsenic-related health problems.
The programme includes raising local awareness about the problem, testing water sources to determine the amount of arsenic present, distributing simple filters at a discounted rate, and helping arsenicosis patients by giving them access to a doctor and medicines.
Jalal’s situation underscores the urgent importance of our efforts to help people stay healthy by drinking arsenic-free water. It’s our desire to see everybody in this area drinking water that is fit for life. But not only do we bring clean water, but we also bring the Living Water and the hope of life to people who thirst for knowledge of Jesus.
We work towards this vision every day so that in the future, thousands of people like Jalal can start drinking safe water from an earlier age and also come to faith in the Living Water that is Jesus Christ.
For the success of sustainable water and sanitation programmes across the world and in south Asia.
For God to use these programmes to point people to the source of all that is good, Jesus Christ.
For more workers to be raised up prepared to take the knowledge of clean water and living water to parts of the world where Christ is not known.