When The Well Runs Dry - A True Story

 

It’s morning in Nicaragua.

A rooster crows from what seems like right outside of Juancito’s house, an amalgamation of wood and old peanut sacks.

He rubs his eyes with the back of his hand and arches his back to stretch. Once he completes his usual waking routine, he throws his legs over the side of his hammock. But right as he goes to push himself out, a sharp pain grabs at his sides, and he falls back to the comfort of his hammock.

This happens sometimes in the mornings. He forgets he’s sick. But it doesn’t take long for reality to send a resounding reminder. Juancito suffers from Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). CKD is a degenerative, progressive condition that is marked by the gradual loss of kidney function.

What does that mean? Basically, your kidneys lose their ability to filter waste from your blood. So all this bad stuff is essentially trapped in your body, and it hurts like hell. There are five stages of CKD, stage five being terminal. As someone who suffers from this progressive disease, Juancito will most certainly develop stage five CKD and die.

The classification of Juancito's CKD is a bit different from traditional cases, which are associated with diabetes, obesity and/or old age. Juancito has CKDu, a form of the disease common in underdeveloped countries. The 'u' stands for 'unknown cause.' But, a close look at the demographic affected by the disease, reveals a correlation between the disease and minimal access to clean drinking water.

It typically plagues men who perform heavy labor in hot temperatures, and Juancito fits that bill. He worked in sugarcane production from age 16 to 25 and is only 27 now. You see, a direct link has been found between CKDu and chronic/acute dehydration. So, while access to abundant clean drinking water can’t reverse the effects of CKDu on those who are already sick, it can prevent others in Juancito’s community from developing the disease.

If you'd like to learn how you can help prevent others in Juancito’s community from getting sick, check out Turn On the Water, a campaign to provide a full-scale water system that will pipe clean drinking water to 110 households in El Porvenir, Nicaragua.

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