Hello, my name is Sara and this is my story about a life-changing trip I recently took to South Africa. We all seek to make a difference in our lives and I was grateful to be able to do this for those less fortunate than ourselves. Thanks to Water-to-Go, we managed to provide the equivalent of 4,410 litres of filtered water for an underprivileged community we visited in South Africa. Read on to find out more about this project and why we were there.
South Africa is often not considered one of the African countries most ‘in need’ of support, perhaps because of some the extremes elsewhere in Africa. However, after visiting in 2018, it is clear there is a large number of South African people in need. This is where the Echo in Africa project came into effect.
Echo in Africa Project
I am a cardiac physiologist and have been working for the NHS for the past 4 years in London. This year my department has supported me in a life-long dream, sending me to Africa to diagnose children with cardiac disease. This has been made possible by the project ‘Echo in Africa’ created by volunteer cardiologists, physiologists, the British Society of Echocardiography and SunHeart Foundation.
The main focus was on rheumatic disease, an inflammatory reaction that can develop as a complication of a Group A streptococcal infection, such as strep throat or scarlet fever. This disease affects the heart, joints, brain and skin, and commonly develops silently until the advanced stages of rheumatic disease. At least 12 million people are currently affected by this disease, with 2 million patients needing hospital admission and 1 million needing cardiac surgery in the next five to twenty years.
The water crisis in Cape Town caught my attention and then during preparation for this travel, I started collecting donations from all sorts of sources. These included clothes, toys, books, backpacks, hats, nappies, shoes, towels, baby clothes, sports equipment and so on.
I was aware that the children we would be screening are from extremely poor communities and settlements. How were they dealing with this water crisis? What kind of water are they drinking? I was thinking.
My research started around what could I do to help in this area. Ideally, the intention was to make the most of any water source available, so finding an effective and practical way of filtering water anywhere was essential.
Water-to-Go in South Africa
It was at this stage I found Water-to-Go. When I contacted the company and told them about the idea, they were extremely enthusiastic about supporting me in South Africa.
We came up with a code (EAPDONATE) that when someone bought a 75cl bottle, Water-to-Go would donate a second. Plus extra bottles on top of this were donated by Water-to-Go.
In my mind I had many questions, after the 200 litres (the life of one 75cl filter) what would the kids and families do with the bottles? It’s funny how your opinion changes when you are physically delivering each bottle. You realise that 4 months of drinking water is a true gift.
The bottles were given mainly to pregnant patients and kids, who currently live in an informal settlement called Freedom Farm. As a plan of action to provide as much safe drinking water as possible, I plan on returning to South Africa in 2019. I will take more bottles with me as well as replacement filters for those communities who have already been reached with bottles.
I can only try and express how good it feels to contribute towards the reduction of single-use plastic on this planet and far beyond explanation is the gratitude seen in the eyes of those receiving these gifts.
My Time in South Africa
After completing my mission in Cape Town, I travelled to the Kruger National Park passing Johannesburg on my way to Swaziland. In the Kruger National Park I camped for 3 hot days and 3 cold nights. We also embarked on 3 daily safaris each one lasting around 3-4 hrs. Water tended to run out in the first couple of hours, however with my Water-to-Go bottle I could fill up from any non-salt water source.
This bottle was my main company and has brought a conscious purpose to be added to the experience. It has also added to the intentions of projects like ‘Echo in Africa’.
Thank you Water-to-Go for the support, inspiration and materialisation of this essential tool. I’m looking forward to our next partnership.
Guest blog post from Sara Broring, Chief Cardiac Physiologist at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, London