By Sgt. 1st Class Tami Hillis
4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq – Coalition forces are trying to increase Iraqis life expectancy by teaching basic hygiene, and reinforcing the importance of drinking clean water.
Under the auspice of a cooperative medical engagement, Soldiers from 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, taught classes on water purification and handed out 150 water purification systems to families in Samrah, Iraq, April 26.
The engagement allowed villagers to learn about basic public health. Most of the classes focused on the importance of clean water to prevent gastrointestinal issues and skin problems experienced in the area.
The local drinking water comes from a canal used by animals and as a result, residents have been victimized by worms and skin diseases, said Spc. Lori MacFarland, a medic for 703rd BSB, 4th BCT, 3rd Inf. Div., who taught the classes.
The local sheikh selected five males and five females from different households throughout the village to participate in the train-the-trainer course.
Medics from the unit scooped a bucket of water from the canal, strained it through a white clothe and boiled it to show residents all the sediments that still remained despite filtration.
"By boiling the water it kills the living organisms and makes it better for them to drink, which will mean fewer illnesses," MacFarland said.
Medics strained the water several more times until clear.
"After that I drank the water it gave them the confidence that it was clean," MacFarland said, an Atlanta native.
Classes also included instructions on brushing and flossing teeth, hand sanitation, washing food, and using the purification systems.
"Overall I think this was a step in the right direction," Woody said. "It's sustainable and the nice thing about the classes is now they have something they can use."
The Soldiers also left behind Arabic instructions so other families could benefit from the classes, and donated toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, basins, straining cloth and goodies for the children,.
"After I went and came back I thought, 'Wow, they really did need this class,'" MacFarland said. "It's a good idea to go out and train others and have them get the information out to the other families."
Right now the unit is scheduled to conduct another CME in a different location May 24.
This work, Iraqis learn longevity tips from Coalition forces, by SGM Tami Hillis, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.