Peter and his five children are waiting on safe water.
“We wake up in the morning around four o’clock, because the first thing we do as the whole family is collect water,” Peter explains. “We have to use flashlights so that we can see the way.”
Peter, his wife, three sons, and two daughters walk two and a half miles round-trip to an unprotected spring every time they collect water. Between walking to the spring and waiting in line, this daily chore takes at least an hour and a half – sometimes more. If his family gets a late start, the line of people at the spring is longer, making Peter’s children late for school.
His youngest daughter, Priscilla, is only four, but she’s already getting used to the daily rhythm of collecting water.
“Sometimes I take Priscilla to the spring and have her carry a one-liter container, so that she gets used to fetching water when she grows up,” Peter shared. “My children have not really had the time to play and simply be children.”
A lack of safe water in their community not only makes Peter’s oldest daughter and three sons late for school, but it also makes his family sick with water-related illnesses like diarrhea. Peter also loses valuable time he could be working on the family’s dairy farm to earn more income.
“My wife and oldest child spend hours on Saturdays, and sometimes the whole day, at the spring, washing clothes,” he explains. “They have to wait there for the clothes to dry, since they are too heavy to carry when they are wet.”
“We face so many challenges,” Peter says.
The early mornings, the long walks, the missed school days, the lost income and lost time – all of this could change. Peter’s family could have a water point installed in their village by the end of this year.
“When I think of having water, it is like a dream,” he says. “My children would not have to wake up at 4 am to collect water before school. Washing clothes can be done at home. My cows will have enough to drink, which may even increase their milk production. We will also have more time to work on the farm.”
With the new water system, children like four-year-old Priscilla will have a new normal. Although Peter has spent his entire life – 50 years – walking for water every day, his children could be part of a new generation that is spared from the long, daily walk for water.
Peter’s family is just one of the thousands of families in Gicumbi District, Rwanda, whose lives will change when their water system is completed. Will you help make safe water a reality for families like Peter’s?