When she married ten years ago, Alphonsine moved from her home village in the east of Rwanda to her new home in Rurembo Village, Gicumbi, a district in the north. As happy as she was to have married the love of her life, Alphonsine knew she would face one big challenge – accessing water.
While the village where she grew up had piped water, her new community in Gicumbi did not. So, every morning, Alphonsine would wake up early to fetch water from an unprotected spring. Once there, the lines were long, and sometimes she had to wait an hour for her turn to fill her jerry cans.
"It was a two-hour journey, round trip," she recalls. "The water was not clean, but it was the only option we had. Going to fetch the water everyday water meant we lost precious time that should have been dedicated to other activities."
"Personally, it was very hard to get used to this new normal. I really struggled to adapt. Sometimes my legs hurt so much or even swelled from walking downhill to fetch water, that I couldn’t work for days," the 35-year-old mother of two says.
Needing an alternative, Alphonsine and her family resorted to paying others to collect water for them. This was unsustainable, too. Now, water cost her family over two dollars per day – nearly a third of a day’s wages!
Because of the lack of water, Alphonsine says her small business selling tea struggled to make any profits.
"Instead of using my small income to invest more and grow my business, I was using it to pay for water," she recalls.
But all that changed about a year ago when water was brought to her community. Thanks to a partnership between the Rwandan government, local leaders, and Water For People, Alphonsine now accesses clean water from a piped water system, with a public tap built just outside her home.
"The cost of water has dropped ten times, and this means I am making more money," she says with a smile. "Most importantly, we are using clean water; which means we are safe from illnesses. We also dedicate more time to activities that make our lives better instead of spending it looking for water. A lot has really changed," she adds.
From making less than seven dollars on a good day, Alphonsine says she has increased her profits from her tea business to almost 10 dollars on any given day. That’s a 42% increase thanks to her family’s access to clean water near their home.
"Life has changed for us and I wish those who do not have safe water could also have it," she says. "That is what I hope for every day because I have realized that water changes so much and brings so many opportunities."