How much does access to clean, safe water matter to a rural family in Africa? In honor of World Water Day, March 22, we share this story of success from Mozambique, written by World Vision's Belis Matabire, who has worked with our water, sanitation, and hygiene programs in Southern Africa for the past 12 years.
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Lito’s mother, Olinda Cochieque, knocks on his door. Stirring from sleep, Lito Eduardo, 12, abandons the warmth of his blankets and walks 2.5 miles to fetch water from the river.
He has no choice.
If Lito does not help the family, his mother would only have time to collect enough water for cooking -- not enough for bathing, too. Lito could have slept longer and gone to the well a little later, but he would have risked returning without water.
“We have to leave very early in the morning, because there is only one well for all of the families,” says Lito. “The first to reach the well is the first to collect water; there are so many who depend on it.”
In fact, in Nihessiue, Mozambique, where Lito lives, the single traditional well, dug into the riverbed, served 500 families in the village.
"Every morning when I returned home, I had to sweep the yard and wash the dishes before going to school,” Lito says. “Many days, I arrived to school after classes had started.”
A typical water source in Mozambique sometimes looks like this.
Lito made the trip once a day to the well, in addition to the two times his mother usually went just in order to have the minimum amount of water for the family’s daily needs.
Olinda, who has six other children besides Lito, recalls the routine. "I used to finish fetching water around noon, when I had to start preparing meals for my children. I did not have time to help my husband in the field,” she says.
Lito’s tardiness and absence from school is just one example of what happens to the thousands of children who live in rural areas in Mozambique. About 40 percent of the population does not have access to clean, safe water.
Lito’s life changed last fall. A borehole was drilled less than 1,000 feet from his home, so he no longer wakes up early to fetch water before school.
“For me and my family, this borehole means more food on the table, as now I can help my husband with farming," said Olinda. “I want to say thank you to the sponsors who provided us clean and safe water. May the God of Heaven provide them health and a long life, so that they can keep doing such wonderful work."
Access to clean water is foundational to life in all its fullness. Without it, entire communities can be trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty. Children like Lito often miss school because they spend so much time gathering dirty water, and when it makes them sick, they can't attend class anyway. Economic development is stifled when waterborne illness afflicts otherwise productive adults.
This World Water Day, make a one-time donation to World Vision's Clean Water Fund to support our projects that bring clean, safe water to communities in need in places like Mozambique. You can also give monthly to provide ongoing support for these efforts in regions of the world where the need is especially great.