Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 1, 2017

Deadly Water

The Amazon River | Western Basin | The Village of Novo Niníve

Among all of the things we take for granted in suburbia, access to clean water is close to the top of the list. We seldom give a thought to the convenience of turning on a tap or reaching into the refrigerator for a bottle of ice-cold water. We don’t give a second thought to taking long showers or hot baths. We are beyond blessed by having immediate and easy access to abundant water.

Not so for many in our world today, including those who live in villages along the Amazon. This mighty river pushes fresh water a hundred miles into the Atlantic, yet those who live in villages along its banks still struggle to have clean water to drink.

I have never seen a water well in any of the many villages I have visited on my previous trips to the Amazon. While in a village a few months ago, I asked an old woman where she got her drinking water. “From the middle of the river,” she quickly replied, “because the water in the middle of the river is cleaner.”

A special focus of our trip to Novo Niníve was to educate the people about water purification, hygiene, and water-related diseases. Every minute of the day, many children all over the world die of water-related diseases, especially diarrhea. And yet, these deaths are preventable if people have some basic knowledge of how germs spread, how to rehydrate after severe bouts of diarrhea, and how to purify water.

My friend Bob Thorp, who is on the staff of Living Water International, joined our team to the Amazon to specifically address water issues. The good folks at Sawyer filters gave us a great deal on a water filtration system that can provide families with clean water for years, if they will follow some simple steps for maintaining their unit.

Bob showed families how to assemble and maintain their Sawyer water filtration kit. He also demonstrated the effectiveness of the system by taking a bucket of murky water from their village pond and turning it into clear, clean, potable water. This filtration system, along with hygiene training, can lead to better health for the villagers.

Bob also ran a series of tests on the village water source. The results were frightening. Absolutely high levels of e-coli were present in the water that the people drink daily. The problem is that villagers bathe in the same ponds they depend on for their drinking water. It’s no wonder kids and adults get so sick.

A key part of Bob’s instruction included how to rehydrate a child who has had diarrhea. He gave each family a measuring spoon to mix the proper ratio of salt and sugar to a cup of water to make a rehydration drink. Something as simple as this will result in lives saved.

We will continue to monitor the health of the villagers on our return trips. We expect to hear good things if the people will use the filters we provided and make it a habit to practice good hygiene. We hope to turn the deadly water of Novo Niníve into living water.


  1. So very amazing! I hope to join y’all on the next trip to meet the Novo Ninive people. So glad to hear all the amazing things you were able to help these people stay a little healthier. Glad y’all are home safe.

    • Great trip, Sterling. Definitely missed you and Bob. Hope you both have an opportunity to meet the Ticuna Indians soon.

  2. I am retired well driller and pump repair, would love to volunteer to help. Have been to africa and Haiti on projects for Bob for LWI ! Blessings

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