Today was an amazing day. We met with Living Water International who is Global Benefit’s on the ground partner who executes our clean water and sanitation training projects. We arranged ahead of time to find a community that did not have clean water so we could capture their story. We wanted to tell the story of a family who is currently living with unsafe water, then when clean water arrives with a drilled well, we will return to tell the story of how their life has changed.
We went to the community of Kira which was about 30 minutes outside of Kigali and were able to see the water hole where people retrieved their water for their families. When we first got to the water hole I notice it was brown and that cows has been their and they had left their “piles” right near the water.
It was important for us to find a family in this community that we could interview to see what life is like today as it relates to water. To find this family we had to drive 2 Km up a steep hill to the home of a woman and 4 children whose story we are going to tell. The woman’s name is Jackiline Namahirwe and her children are 12, 7, 5 and 3 in age. Her husband “ran off” and now she runs her home and family by herself. She is a sweet woman, but I can’t believe the workload she has. She wakes up at 6am to fetch water, where she will walk 2 km down a very steep hill and then once she gets her water she will walk back another 2 Km up the hill to her home. She says the whole process takes her 2 hours and she will do this 2 or 3 times a day. Jackiline says she uses the water for washing clothes, watering a cow that she keeps and uses the water for drinking and cooking. She knows the water in not clean so she will boil the water for drinking.
The interesting thing that she told me, when I was speaking to her through and translator (she speaks Kinrwanda), is the amount of wood that it takes just to boil the water. She said with fresh water she would save a lot of money by not having to buy as much wood for boiling the water. This was a component of clean water that I had not thought of before.
We followed Jackiline down to the water hole where she filled up her jerry can. Interesting, while she was filling her container someone was washing clothes in the same hole and them a bit later I saw a man relieving himself 5 feet from the water source. Needless to say this water is nasty. Just when I thought I had seen it all – a boy on a bicycle who was carrying a heavy load of flower of beans, stopped at the water hole and asked a little boy to give him some water and sure enough he guzzled it down. I can just imaging how many parasites are in this water that are now swimming in the belly of the boy.
When Jackiline was done filling her jerry can, which I believe holds up to 5 gallons of water, she took her scarf that had been around her neck and wrapped it into a circle. She then lifted the jerry can on her head to carry it back home – I don’t think I could walk 100 yards with this on my head let alone walk 2 km. We were so thankful for her cooperation and gave her a ride in our trucks back to her home so she would not have to climb the steep hills carrying water on her head.
At the watering hole I had some fun with a teenage boy who gave me a ride on his bike. I rode on the back carrying rack of the bike with my legs spread eagle, the boy peddled me down the dirt road – it was a lot of fun.
We also gave a truck ride to Jackiline’s children who where now heading to school. From what I understand, to make room for all the children to go to school they split the classes into morning classes and afternoon classes. Jackiline’s children were going to the afternoon classes. We drove them 5 km to school. Imagine having to walk 10 km each day to go to school and these are small children 6, 7, and 8 year old walking this distance. What would our children say if they had to walk this distance to school? I know it is all the Africans know, but it amazed me.
We then drove another 15 minutes down the road to another community where our partner was setting the pump for a well. It was interesting to see them assemble the casing and pumping system and to be at the well when some of the first water was being pumped out. Very Cool.
We got a lot of great footage and were able to do some interviews to talk about Global Benefit’s Walk4Water events and to share how each person can make an impact and change someone’s life by helping bring clean water to Africa. We also took some video on site to share about a new initiative we will be releasing this year called My Water Project.