World Water Day: The story of Wilson Katonda

Trachoma is the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness. It largely affects the rural poor, who have limited access to clean water, basic sanitation and healthcare.  

On World Water Day we’re marking the difference our Trachoma Initiative partner, Water Mission, is making to the lives of people in Uganda. By bringing water sources to communities and teaching people about the importance of good hygiene and sanitation, they are helping ensure Trachoma is kept at bay.     

Wilson Katonda (49), his wife Susan, and their four children are some of the many people living in the Busoga region who have benefited from Water Missions’ work.

This is Wilson’s story. 

“My home used to be a total mess. We used to sleep in a grass thatched house that we didn’t maintain, so whenever it rained we would have to spend the night standing since our bedding would get soaked in rain. We had a semi-permanent latrine which was also never maintained. Our animals used to sleep in the kitchen but we didn’t think to clean up the dung before preparing meals. Our compound would go many days without being swept and to us, it was no big deal to see flies around since we didn’t see them as harmful. When Water Mission Uganda came to our village to teach us about trachoma, I was blessed to be among the people selected to participate in the training to become an Ambassador of Change. I am glad that I had such an opportunity because it was a very good eye opener to me and later to my family. I got to learn about trachoma - a disease I and many people within my village used to associate with witchcraft and genes rather than poor hygiene and sanitation. We were told about the cause of the disease, how it is transmitted, signs and symptoms as well prevention. I was surprised that flies were the main actors in spreading the disease, yet they can be kept away from our homes through simple actions.

That was my turning point.

From then on, I decided to improve my home. I constructed a brick iron-roofed house, rehabilitated my old semi-permanent latrine and even put up two permanent pour flush latrines to eliminate the presence of flies in our home. Together with my family, we put up a hand and face washing station, a bath shelter, a dish drying rack, a garbage pit, an animal house and we clean our compound every day.

The Trachoma Initiative also taught me how people with the disease can be treated. With this knowledge I took my elderly mother who was losing her sight to trachoma to receive treatment. Though she has now passed on, she enjoyed her last days pain free and with good sight.

Changing our lifestyle has not only helped my family health wise but has also improved our social status. My home almost comes first on the list of the cleanest homes within Kiringa village which makes it a model for everyone to lookup to.

With this I appreciated the work carried out in honour of The Queen for helping us to live cleanly, attain dignity, have recognition and above all stay away from preventable diseases such as trachoma. The Trust’s support has not only helped me to transform my home but has also given me the opportunity to host the Lord Bishop Chartres in my home which is something that I have never even dreamt about.”