There is a marked increase of chronic renal failure reported among people living in the dry zone districts of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Ampara. The alarming increase in deaths reported each year from these areas due to chronic renal failure is a matter of concern to the Ministry of Health. It is noted that the people most affected are from farming communities. A unique feature of the dry zone is that in a large number of areas the fluoride levels in the ground water are significantly higher than recommended levels. This fact and the presence of agrochemicals in the ground water contribute towards the toxicity of the water tables.
Pastor Gracien hails from Palaviya in the Puttalam District. Palaviya is one of several towns affected by contaminated ground water. “The water in my village is discoloured and tastes foul. Villagers are forced to travel several kilometres to collect clean drinking water from selected wells that offer safe drinking water” said the pastor. It is in this dire situation that Pastor Gracien approached the relief and development arm of the NCEASL for help to purchase a water purifier for his church, so that he could provide clean drinking water to his congregants. During the subsequent discussions, the NCEASL suggested that he launches a livelihood through a water purifying plant. Pastor Gracien then contacted and sought the advice of a few others in neighbouring villages who had also purchased a water purification machine and was engaged in a similar livelihood.
The water purification plant purchased by the NCEASL for Pastor Gracien produces 500 litres of clean water in an hour. He has branded his product. ‘Gangula’ (spring). Pastor Gracien proposes to help the marginalised and needy communities in his village with the income he earns.
“There are people who own three wheelers, bicycles and mini-trucks who now offer home delivery services to the neighbourhood” said the pastor, pleased that there were others too who will benefit from his livelihood. He is thankful to the NCEASL for trusting him and supporting his livelihood. “I will also not forget my original idea of providing my church congregants free and safe drinking water” he added.
For Pastor Gracien his new livelihood is a dream come true. ‘Gangula’ drinking water is a blessing to his church. His desire to help the needy with the income he earns has also been fulfilled. He is sure that those who drink this water will escape chronic renal failures.