Sweetly sleeping, two-year-old Solange lays contentedly in her mom’s arms. Marie Louise’s other children are at school. This scene, almost serene, feels very different from what Marie Louise says life looked like a few years ago.
A few years ago, her village didn’t have a safe water source. Growing up, Marie Louise never had the luxury of water nearby. From a young age and until she was a mother herself, Marie Louise would devote hours each day to fetching water. This meant waking up at 4 am, walking for hours, and then trying to finish all the day’s work and chores in any remaining time. If she needed her children’s help fetching water, they might be late for school or miss it completely. Sometimes, fights would break out at the water source over the limited water, and she would come home empty-handed.
Sweet, serene moments like this one with little Solange were hard to come by.
Now, Marie Louise has water only minutes from her house, and there is something extraordinary in the water! Suddenly, she has more time and energy. Her children now stay in school. She has more resources to invest in growing her small soft drink production business.
"I was so excited," Marie Louise shares, laughing. "Before, we would fetch water and get tired. Now, we can fetch water ten times and not get tired!"
Throughout her village, Marie Louise says families have much more time to spend working or simply resting. And her own family has seen huge benefits.
"Our cleanliness has definitely improved," she says. "We have been able to build a nice bathroom. And my children don’t have to miss school anymore. I feel that my children will have a very different life than me."
Marie Louise is not only benefitting from water, but works hard to keep it flowing. She is the president of a six-person water committee that manages the water point. This means she represents her village to government leadership and educates the villagers about hygiene and sanitation.
"The first challenge is to change mindsets," she explains. "Not all the community members understand the importance of using the clean water and having hygiene and sanitation in their homes."
Marie Louise is passionate about making sure every family in her village uses safe water and good hygiene practices, because she has seen the incredible results in her own family. With more time, more education, and a thriving business, water has brought something life-changing to Marie Louise.