(MNN) — Guinea worm is a crippling disease spread through contaminated water.
According to the World Health Organization, while some three
million people suffered from the disease in the early 1980s, it now affects
about 25,000 people in nine African countries, with more prevalence in Sudan and Ghana.
What is it? Guinea
worm is a parasite that causes large ulcers, normally in the lower leg. When the worm is ready to exit its host, the
site can swell to the size of a tennis ball and burst, releasing a spaghetti-like parasitic worm that can be up to two to three feet long.
Burning pain often prompts victims to jump into nearby water holes, which can
be the only source of drinking water for their communities. The worm releases
thousands of larvae in the water, the larvae are ingested by water fleas, and the disease
is spread further.
That's where International Aid comes in. Jim Bodenner
of I-A says the first shipment of the BioSand water filter systems is en route to Ghana, West Africa. "It's on the high seas right now, (and)
we expect it to be in Ghana
in the next two or three weeks. We are working with the international aid
infrastructure on the ground in Ghana
to develop an implementation plan to get the first 2,250 filters in use in high
Bodenner says people who have already been infected will
still require medical treatment for the parasite. But clean water is an obvious start to
prevention. The filter provides about
75 gallons of safe water per day.
Explaining how it works is a little more complicated. According to the I-A website, "Organic
material is trapped at, or very close to, the surface of the sand, forming a
biological layer. Over a period of one to three weeks, micro-organisms
colonize this part of the filter, where organic food and oxygen derived from
the water abounds. These micro-organisms consume bacteria and other
pathogens found in the water, thereby providing highly effective water
Once the filters are distributed, it's a process of
education and more education. Bodenner
says not only do they teach people how to use the filters, they also teach them
basic sanitation and hygiene practices.
That actually translates to an open door for the Gospel,
says Bodenner. "The use of the water technology, the BioSand water filter,
we believe strongly advances our ministry to support faith-based organizations
on the ground that we're involved in. It supports our ministry
which is based on Matthew 25:28 to reach out and provide services to those in
need around the world." Click here if you can help.