Lodged away among the rolling hills of Swaziland is the Bhekinkhosi clinic, one of the oldest Nazarene clinics in Swaziland, and a lifesaving point of care for about 1,500 patients per month. In addition to treating a range of medical conditions, this clinic is part of a government plan to decentralize HIV/AIDS treatment in the country with the world’s highest adult infection rate.
Before last year, the clinic faced a serious challenge in trying to provide critical health support to the community. Even the tap outside of the clinic did not work, leaving patients without their most vital resource. Without clean water for drinking or washing, the clinic was limited in the help it could provide.
All of that changed when the RAIN “Water for a Generation” project installed an innovative solar water system in Bhekinkhosi. Patients now enjoy access to safe water, nurses are able to wash their hands and their equipment, and doctors are now more likely to routinely visit the area, increasing the medical capacity dramatically.
The water is a boon to more than just the clinic and the patients who depend on it; the entire economy is given a boost. The water encourages residents to stay and help build the community while drawing new inhabitants to the area. Roughly 20 households have now received water and the community is growing, a rare occurrence in a country with a declining rural population. One woman commented that she “prefers to stay here because now there is water.” The school register confirms this trend, with a 10 percent increase in the past year.
The community is working diligently to keep the system running. The school principal has also added a small water charge to the students’ school fees to help raise funds for the long-term maintenance of the system. These efforts, in addition to a 10-year warrantee, will ensure that the water continues to flow – and the community stays involved.
For the people of Bhekinkhosi, this is about more than just water. It is about education, opportunity, and life itself.