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“There used to be fights at the boreholes because of congestion,” Chief Elida Timbenawo explains with a flourish of her weathered hands. “Now I can rarely find somebody to help me lift my bucket onto my head because everyone can fetch water whenever they want.”
When it came to developing the menu for our 25th Anniversary Celebration we decided to do something a little different. We looked beyond classic crudités and lobster puffs to place our focus on the source.
In rural Uganda, Water For People is helping entrepreneurs tackle every part of the sanitation value chain, from constructing latrines and emptying them to transferring and treating fecal waste. In this last step – fecal waste treatment – Water For People is creating a true circular economy by repurposing waste, uncovering its potential value as “brown gold.”
Don Goyo has led the charge for safe water in his rural community in the hilly terrain of Western Guatemala. From a young age, he looked for problems to solve and ways to make life better for Everyone in his community. In many ways, making life better started with water.
Weave through the rolling green hills of Uganda’s countryside, past lines of banana trees, clusters of coffee plants, and a few cattle wandering alongside a narrow dirt path, and you’ll find Aisha Lubega at her local water point, turning water into progress for her entire community.
In 2009, Hurricane Aila hit West Bengal, India with force, destroying homes with devastating amounts of flooding. In the Water For People district of Pratharpratima, the tiny island of Brajaballabpur was hit hard – and the hurricane took down sanitation infrastructure with it.
On the road to reaching Everyone Forever in the districts where we work, Water For People has defined different milestones to celebrate along the way – reaching every community, clinic, school, and family with reliable water services. We are thrilled that in 2016, we had three districts reach every community and two districts reach every clinic and school!
Annie sits outside of her mud-plastered home, a small thatched canopy providing little respite from the Malawi heat. Her gaze focuses on some scribbled words on the side of her latrine: Tigwiritse Nchito Chimbuzi Moyenera Nthawi Zonse.
Dinesh Kumar is an investor in opportunity. At 36 years old from the Nimahi village, Tariyani Block of the Sheohar district in the state of Bihar, Dinesh is fulfilling his desire to serve the community by helping to create access to improved water and sanitation services.
As she carefully tends the buds on her trees and feeds the animals she raises, it’s clear that soft-spoken Carolina Torrico is proud of her work. With bright eyes peeking out from under her flat-brimmed hat, Carolina waters her peach and apple trees and shows off her prized baby rabbits.
Parbati, 34, was born and raised in Abad Gangadharpur. Before she had access to safe water she would spend almost two hours every day walking for water, and when it rained it was even worse. She would use the safe water for drinking, but would bathe and cook with water from a nearby pond.
For Bimal Samanta, 45, reliable access to safe water is a new reality. For as long as he can remember he walked 3 kilometers every day to fetch water. And his sons grew up with summers spent hauling water, and rainy seasons marked by knee-deep mud and submerged wells.
The late afternoon sun starts turning golden as Julia, Daniel, and Maria play in the fields surrounding their home just outside of Asunción, Peru. Their life is simple and sweet, and they like it that way.
Despite the energy in her voice, the lines on Faith’s face and clouded eyes behind her glasses betray her age. At 85, she is living what they call the “bonus years” in Uganda, meaning she is alive to see her great grandchildren. But nothing – least of all her age – is stopping Faith from securing a better future for her family, starting with water.
Doña Raquel lives in the community of Lapalén in the district of Cascas, Peru. In 2009 she and her fellow community members began discussions with the local government in hopes of getting access to drinking water, but with little movement.
When Don Anacleto came to the community of Frontera in the district of Villa Rivero, Bolivia, the only way his community members could get water was from a hand-dug well at his home. Every day, all his neighbors would have to come to his house to get the water they needed.
As mayor of the district of San Rafael del Norte in Nicaragua, Doña Norma commands respect. She and her family have a long and respected history in the district, so when Doña Norma speaks up, people listen.
“Okay, let me give you an example of why water and sanitation in schools are important.” David’s excitement is palpable.
He’s a member of the Chilomoni Primary School’s Sanitation Club in Blantyre, Malawi, and he’s been on the forefront of heralding important change in water and sanitation for the school’s 1,600 students.
“Children and teachers walked from school to a well near our house to get water and carry it back,” said Mayra, who lives with her husband Hector and their two young sons Marcos and Anthony. “They needed water to clean the school, and teachers and students needed it to use the bathroom and wash their hands.”
Three years ago, Absolut Elyx embarked on a 5-year mission with Water For People to bring safe water to over 100,000 people worldwide. This spring, Absolut Elyx is bringing back their #RaiseItForward social media campaign.
When Mayor Justus speaks, you can see the pride in his eyes and hear the sense of accomplishment in his voice. His dream of safe water and reliable sanitation for Everyone Forever started with some scribbles on a napkin over dinner – a big dream for his entire district of Rulindo and ultimately for his country, Rwanda.
The community of Pachoj in Guatemala is 15 miles from the nearest town and challenging to get to – in the rainy season the trek to this tiny town can include more than a mile of walking along muddy roads that often become unpassable for cars. Because access to the town is so difficult, Pachoj lacks basic services like drinking water, sanitation, and electricity.
The water is starting to flow in Rulindo, Rwanda. And not a moment too soon. Anne Maria’s granddaughter, Josephine, is responsible for getting the daily water. Twice a day, she hikes down and back up the steep hillside to fetch water at the free spring in the valley.
Standing at just over five feet tall, Luisa Barahona is a petite tour de force. As the President of El Negrito’s Water Board Association in Honduras, she is on a quest to make sure Everyone across the municipality has access to safe water Forever. Over the past six years we’ve watched Doña Luisa’s influence spread from her neighbors and friends to communities across the region.
Bhabani, Koyel, and Sumitra may range in height and age, but they share a common purpose: to participate in the Child Cabinet at Chemaguri Natun Free Primary school on an island in Sagar, India. The three girls are leaders in this student government-like group to help promote good hygiene habits among their fellow students and ensure that the water and sanitation systems at their school are clean and maintained.
For water services to be sustainable, local leadership is key. Without it, communities like Ntayba in Rulindo District, Rwanda wouldn’t be able to count on water that would flow for generations to come.
“We’re very happy,” Bernard says. He and his wife Febronie are happy their two young grandsons don’t have to walk so far to fetch water. They’re happy that the new water point supports the entire village, improving lives for Everyone. A change that will last Forever, through sustainable tariffs that fund operations and maintenance well into the future.
In the small community of Llimbe in Peru, water sources were running dry. The population had grown from 35 to 50 families, and some of the families were using more water than they actually needed. Because of this, if you lived higher on the hillside, you may only have water for an hour a day.
Water For People is honored to have the support of people committing to extraordinary things on behalf of our mission of sustainable water and sanitation for all. Crowdfunders, Committee volunteers, and donors power our critical work to bring sustainable water and sanitation services to millions of people in the nine countries where we work.
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