A typical day for Enelesi meant waking up at four in the morning to fetch water from a nearby community.
“Sometimes they would refuse to sell us water, so we would go to the stream,” she says. “Because of this, diarrhea cases were very common in my family. And because we didn’t have sufficient water to bathe often, skin rashes were also very common.”
Walking for water each day meant less time to spend with her husband and four children and less time to work on their farm.
“We couldn’t focus as much on our business, which meant we had less money to buy food for our children,” Enelesi shares. “Our children would be late to school after fetching water. Throughout the village, hygiene levels were low because no one had enough water to have a handwashing station by their latrine.”
This all changed when Enelesi’s small village in Chikwawa District, Malawi, received access to water services last year.
“It makes me feel rich!” she says. “To know I have water is the greatest thing that has happened in my life.”
“My children never suffer from rashes anymore,” Enelesi says. “They are performing well at school and are not made fun of by other students for being dirty. They are now clean and smart!”
Now that there is a water point minutes from her house, Enelesi can get water whenever she needs it. Without having to spend time walking for water, Enelesi and her husband have more time to work on their farm and concentrate on their quarry stone business, which is boosting their family’s income. Their children can drink water and bathe as much as they want, and Enelesi has enough water to wash clothes, do dishes, cook, and water her garden.
Not only is Enelesi benefitting from the new water system, but she’s a part of making sure it’s maintained sustainably – she is the village water committee president.
“My responsibility is to ensure the water point is functioning every day,” Enelesi explains. “I also make sure all water users are paying their tariffs, and I hold monthly meetings with the community to address any issues concerning our water point.”
Having women in leadership roles isn’t very common in Enelesi’s community, but she thinks it’s very important for a woman to be in her position.
“Other women in our community relate to me easily, because I understand the challenges women face when it comes to fetching water,” she says. “Women are responsible for the day-to-day activities that require water. As women, we can take leadership roles and help build strong and responsible communities.”
A typical day for Enelesi no longer means waking up early to walk hours for water. Instead, she spends her days leading her family and community toward a better future.