Combat with Arsenic: Winner's Story
Miraculously; I started feeling better and consistently the spots on my body has started disappearing, the skin is growing smoother. Now, I feel fully fit for my job. I am pulling the rickshaw to bear my family on regular basis happily.” Md. Omar Faruk is an inhabitant of Binoy Nagar Maddhya Para village under Natherpetua Union of Monoharganj Upazila. He is operating his family by earning of rickshaw pulling with his satisfaction. Once, his family was not that solvent. At the time of his birth his parent’s family was in debt. Due to financial crisis, his father could not afford continuing his study after class four. So, he had to give-up his study and began to make earnings. At that time he went to Dhaka and got engaged in a service in a hotel. After a period of five years in service, he returned home. But the overall economic condition of the family did not get that much changed; he had to go out with his father for working in other’s land as day laborer and started rickshaw pulling. In the year 2007, he got married.
Faruk described that, in 2005, I observed some black spots in my body. I assumed that, those may be general skin disease. I etched those if and when needed. Sometimes, those were creating a burning sensation. I took medicine from village doctors but nothing got changed. At that time we were not know about Arsenicosis. We thought this is a general illness like other diseases. We were not aware about the root cause of Arsenicosis. At that time there was no Arsenic free deep tube well in our locality. Shallow hand tube wells were the only water source for us. By taking arsenic contaminated water, I got affected by Arsenicosis. Skin of my hands started falling increasingly turning rough and hard. Once, I felt very hard to hold my rickshaw handle for pulling. Due to my skin disease I was hesitant to be intimate with others.
Few days ago, VERC started working in our village on safe water. They tested water from all of our tube wells and identified me as an Arsenicosis patient. VERC people organized good number of meetings with us on Arsenic and safe water issues. I attended those meetings regularly. In that meeting, I noticed for the 1st time that I am affected by Arsenicosis. As per the discussions held in the meeting and as a remedial measure for me of the disease I started boiling pond water and started taking it for drinking and cooking purposes in my family. I also started taking green vegetables regularly. As there was no arsenic free tube well, I used pond water to get cured. Unfortunately, during the dry months the pond dries up and we could not collect water. In that situation I applied for a rain water harvesting system to Union Parishad and VERC. My house being located in an isolated place, they allocated me a rain water harvesting system for installation in my courtyard in March 2014. Now, all of my family members can use rain water for drinking and cooking purposes. Miraculously; I started feeling better and consistently the spots on my body has started disappearing, the skin is growing smoother. Now, I feel fully fit for my job. I am pulling the rickshaw to bear my family on regular basis happily.