Orphanage babies battle diarrhoea

Staff member at Bethany House Trust, Sheila Ngwenya, folds clothes at the orphanage in Monument, 19 November 2013. Since the water cuts Sheila, who runs the home's laundry service, and her staff have washed over 100kg's of laundry since 16 November 2013. Picture: Refilwe Modise

Twelve young children at the Bethany House Trust orphanage on the West Rand have contracted diarrhoea after being without clean water for more than three days, the facility’s chief executive said yesterday.

Some of the children who are being treated were weak and resting in bed during The Citizen’s visit to Monument when the newspaper was alerted to the plight of the children, nearby schools and residents of Mogale City after the water supply was cut in the area on Friday.

“We have 60 children aged between a couple of weeks and 18 and we have been using swimming pool water for cleaning and buying bottled water for R1 000 daily since then,” Bethany House Trust’s Gert Jonker said. “We prepare 300 dishes daily and now 12 of our babies have diarrhoea.”

The organisation has been hand-washing only the clothes of school-going children with bottled water while their daily load of 100kg per day piles up in the laundry room. Preparation of meals for the children has also been delayed because high levels of hygiene must be applied in a kitchen without running water.

Yesterday morning Mogale City officials dropped off a 5 000-litre empty drum at the premises.

Jonker said Mogale City area has had numerous water cuts in the past six months. He said there were water cuts every week.

Mogale City Council spokesman Gwen Baloyi had already knocked off from work when she was approached for comment on the matter yesterday before 4pm.

Some young pupils at Monument Primary School told the newspaper that they were using buckets of water to flush toilets while others said they had been completely avoiding the bathrooms since Monday.

They have started taking their own drinking water to school.

Businesses in the area and some residents also expressed frustration at not being told by the Mogale City Council why their taps were dry.

Integra Education business owner Maude Kem said she had phoned the council twice but could not get any answers about the water cut.

“I have already phoned their customer care line which just keeps ringing. When it was eventually answered I was told they did not know what the problem was.”

Gary Garcia at Phikul’s Thai Massage said they had closed off their bathroom but that not having running water was causing hygiene problems for the business.

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