In La Coyotera, 35 families patiently waited in line as they brought their second round of stool and urine sample to the Amigos for Christ mobile lab. During visits like these, Community Advocates use the mobile lab’s technology to test families for parasites and show community members what the parasites actually look like under a microscope. It’s part of an ongoing process to demonstrate to families the results of better sanitation habits through the use of Modern Bathrooms.
Raquel Martinez Castro, a 27-year-old mother, brought her youngest child with her, a happy and curious 3-year-old named Sarai Lopez. Raquel’s family represents just one of the many families in La Coyotera that have enthusiastically embraced their new water and sanitation infrastructure.
Raquel’s family was one of the first in Coyotera to build their Modern Bathroom, and she loves it. In the past, diarrhea and sickness had been common, but she says that now sickness is rare in her family. As she sat and waited for her test results, she said she hoped the test results would show her family’s decline in sickness.
As she saw the results on a computer screen, she was thrilled. Community Advocate, Juanita, explained to her, “You and your daughter are parasite free!” A smile broke across Raquel’s face and she explained, “I learned to wash everyone’s hands. I never store water in open areas anymore because I know the flies can touch it and spread disease.”
Why is it so important for the mothers and fathers to see the results?
Juanita explains it clearly, “We can tell people that they have parasites. We can build a water system with them, and we can give them access to a sanitary bathroom, but ultimately it is their habits that we are trying to change. When they see the parasites for the first time, most parents are really shocked. The microscope and the computer screen show make the problem real for them, and then people are motivated to change their habits.”
In this follow-up visit, it was encouraging to see that many families were parasite free. It also was an eye-opener for many families that have water and a bathroom, but continue to struggle with some strains of disease.
“This is the perfect way to really enforce what we’re teaching,” says Doctor Maria Jose, as she visits a house and shows the family potential sources of illness origin. “People do not believe that handwashing and covering stored water is important until we show them the follow-up results.”
For Raquel, her day has been successful. “My little girl is healthy! And my sons wash their hands a lot now,” she chuckles. “Well, the 6-year-old fusses at me, but I make him!”
Technology like the technology in the mobile health lab improves health and eliminates disease in La Coyotera and in every Amigos for Christ community partnership. The combination of our mobile lab, our ability to show active parasites on a computer screen, and our preventative health classes is producing excellent results in the community of La Coyotera. “Parasites are down by 28%,” says Juanita. “That is a huge decrease since we just finished the last Modern Bathrooms in April of this year. We are thrilled for this community’s success!”