Clean water helps Africans fight drought, diseases
Field personnel reflection from Fran and Lonnie Turner
A message came this week that Peter’s wife had died. We first met the couple in 2005 at our annual caregivers retreat at Lake Kariba on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. This retreat is done with Circles of Hope, an ecumenical project that seeks to assist people who are HIV-positive. At one time Peter was a locomotive driver for Zambia Railways, but due to his struggle with HIV, he had to give up his job. He had become too ill to work.
In the noontide of my days I must depart. -Isaiah 38:10
This scripture verse describes many individuals and families who struggle daily in the face of loss. They struggle with the loss of self-image, job security, food security, family, friends and even rejection from the religious community they may be members of. Many face death without any control due to the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. We witness such loss almost on a daily basis.
On this World AIDS Day we need to renew our commitment to the struggle and help keep the promise made to millions around the world that they and their children will not be forgotten. This commitment means that we will work to see that families have access to clean water, food security, an income that enables them to send their children to school and, most of all, access to the medical services they need.
Those of you in the United States should contact our colleague Ronnie Adams, who works daily with those in the struggle. In addition, do something in your local community with your church or your school. Remember, also to wear the red AIDS ribbon.
Thanks for helping keep the promise,
Lonnie & Fran Turner, CBF HIV/AIDS and Public Policy Coordinators
The Turners suggest the following resources:
- UNAIDS Web-site
- "AIDS in the Twenty-First Century: Disease and Globalization" by Tony Barnett and Alan Whiteside, 2nd Edition
- "HIV/AIDS Care & Counseling: A Multidisciplinary Approach" by Alta van Dyk, 3rd Edition
By Carla Wynn
ATLANTA – In a village in Zambia, water brought life.
One $4,000 borehole transformed a community by bringing a supply of clean water, enabling villagers to grow their own food and reducing the spread of water-borne disease.
Fran and Lonnie Turner, two of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Global Missions field personnel, partnered with 20 of the community’s widowed. Water was their basic need just like it is in every other developing country. Without water, disease spreads and the food supply of crops dries. With the Turners’ help, a borehole was dug, bringing water to a once dry and thirsty community.
And what a difference clean water makes. This year, they have a large supply of maize, some tomatoes, ground nuts and cotton.
Many of the widows involved in the water project are HIV-positive. Although the virus can lead to a deadly disease, these women have a bigger problem.
“AIDS may kill us in the years ahead,” the local saying goes. “Starvation will kill me and my family tomorrow.”
Locals say that sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest challenges are hunger, poverty and disease like HIV/AIDS and malaria, which kills more Africans than HIV/AIDS does, Lonnie said.
The Turners believe the way to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic is through empowering families to provide their own food, health and income.
“It never ceases to amaze me that when people get the resources they need amazing things happen,” Lonnie said.
Despair and sadness in southern Africa comes from a lack of basic needs, Lonnie said. Some don’t have access to constant supplies of clean water and food.
The Turners fight poverty and its side effects – like the spread of HIV/AIDS – one water well at a time. A well brings a community hope to not only survive today but have a better tomorrow.
“We are people of hope,” Lonnie said. “Because we are people of hope, we must reach out to our fellow human beings and include them in order that they, too, might feel a part of the human family.”
As destructive as the disease can be, being HIV-positive doesn’t mean life is hopeless, Lonnie said. The church can still reach out, still speak words of encouragement and still inspire a person with HIV to hopeful living.
“People who are HIV-positive are people like all of us,” Lonnie said. “We need to reach out to them and let them know that we are in the struggle with them.”
And for the Turners that means doing it one well at a time.