It is still dark outside when you wake, slipping quietly out of the house, careful not to wake anyone. As you step out of the door into the early dawn air, you pick up a bucket and begin walking. As you reach the main road you can see other figures in the darkness, emerging from their homes, slipping through the market square softly. Dawn begins to break and as the sky lightens, the women around you begin to talk, quietly at first, then giggles break out and soon the crowd of women fill the air with raucous laughter.
You reach the river and walk even further upstream, making sure to take water from the fast-flowing sections, where it seems to run clear. Bidding farewell to the others you begin the long walk back home again. It is 5am. Hopefully you will make it back in time to be able to give the children something to drink before they start the day. Yesterday they went to sleep thirsty, and covered in dust, as the bucket was empty.
At the end of the day, after 6 hours working the field in the blazing sunshine, there will just be enough time to collect another bucket of water before night falls. Just enough to wash the children’s dirty faces, and prepare dinner. A pile of unwashed clothes lies in the corner of the house, waiting for the end of the week, when you will carry it all to the river’s edge for laundry day.
Then one day, a man comes to the village and says they will bring clean water to the community. There will be a tap mere yards from your house. Suddenly there will be clean, running water available. You pinch yourself, it must be a dream.
But it is true. There is water a two minute walk from your house. The other day you ran out of water in the middle of cooking a meal, so left the pot on the fire and ran to collect more. The water on the fire hadn’t even started to boil when you came back, it was so quick.
Two of your children now go to school. Instead of hospital fees, school fees can now be paid. Your daughter is delighted to be learning, and wears her clean school uniform every day with pride. The youngest is growing up healthy and strong, when he was born you were worried he wouldn’t make it as he was always sick from the unclean water.
You spent more time in the field this season, and managed to grow extra crops to sell at the market. With this added income you have started to build an extra room on your house to accommodate your growing family. With another one on the way, you are certain of a better future for this child.
Where do you get your water from?
How often do you think about water?
What difference has having access to clean running water made to you?