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It’s unusual for this many women to be gathered in the middle of the day to learn how to make pots. Usually they would be at home caring for their kids, cooking, or working in the fields. The difficulty of coming to a Samaritan’s Purse training led by Fati Zoumari speaks volumes of its importance.

“Being able to do this is a double blessing for us,” said Fati, who only a few months ago had learned the skills she is now teaching. “It’s bringing us knowledge and skill to help us change our lives and it’s also saving the lives of people in our communities.”

Fati is a widow left to care for five children. This allows her the chance to make a living without the hard labour required just to get by. She dreams one day of putting a zinc roof on her house.

“There are women older than me with babies on their backs and they’re pounding millet and fetching water on their heads,” Fati said. “I like that I walk into a house and see families are drinking from the filters that I made. I get to be a blessing to others.”

And now as Fati trains other women, that blessing will extend to many more communities along the river.

“Doing this takes a lot of patience,” Fati said. “I’ve learned to be patient and that is something I want to convey to these women.”

The pottery they shape from clay found on the riverbank will turn out beautiful enough to place as art in a home, but its function is to hold a life-saving BioSand filter. One of these filters can clean many thousands of litres of river water and prevent waterborne illnesses that so commonly infect and even kill many people throughout rural Niger.

Djama Abdoulahi says her children used to always get sick from drinking the water.

“We did not know how much danger we were in,” she said, describing symptoms such urinary tract infections, cholera, diarrhoea and other ailments. “Before this filter we drank dirty water, but now we have filtered water. Everyone is going to have one.”

“We were drinking the same water where people were washing clothes, bathing, dumping waste. All in the same river. Every two days we would see someone vomiting or with diarrhoea and we knew they had cholera.” Abadul Salaam Ibrahim is a health worker from the same village. He said sickness there was very common.

“Every three days we would have 10 cases of sickness from the water,” he said. “You have come and provided the bringing of a solution. We have suffered from many things but now that we have access to clean water we can become healthy again.”

Olivier Boutchueng explains that “many people have no choice but to drink water directly from the river, and this is an answer to the problems caused by dirty water. Children under five are at the highest risk for sickness.”

“Through this project, Samaritan’s Purse is making a huge difference in these communities. These women feel important, they’re learning a skill, and they’re becoming leaders in their communities because they’re helping save lives.”

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