What was life like for you when you were a child? If you were like me, you probably went to school, played with friends and spent evenings having dinner with your family and possibly doing homework.
Many young girls in rural Zambia are not as fortunate. Every day, these girls have to worry about how long it will take to fetch clean water for their families, whether they can make the trip in time to go to school – and how they can stay safe from animal predators during a trek that can be several kilometers long!
In the Southern Province of Zambia in the Sinazongwe district, there’s no easy access to clean water. Although sparsely populated, many villages are situated in the mountainous part of the district that receives very little rainfall each year.
In the past, the communities were only able to obtain drinking water from shallow wells, dug in the banks of perennial river beds. Some of the villages are near freshwater Lake Kariba – but that lake is also infested with hungry crocodiles! Certainly not an ideal situation.
Until recently, if a community couldn’t afford to pay to drill their own borehole, they were forced to share their limited water supply with livestock. Proximity to the cattle and goats also brought flies, which led to the spread of sickness and disease like blinding trachoma.
In areas where water is scarce, it’s usually women and girls who are responsible for fetching water. This often involves long, exhausting walks to and from the water source – usually with the very real danger of being attacked by wild animals. In the Sinazongwe district, it was so dangerous that not a week would go by without hearing of a life lost due to animal predators! It meant girls either missed a lot of school or weren’t enrolled at all.
I’m sure many girls thought that they’d never be able to improve their futures. But thankfully, we have amazing donors who are committed to changing this situation. Because of the incredible generosity of people like you, 96 water boreholes to date have been drilled in the district!
Operation Eyesight’s well programs are so much more than simply drilling a hole in the ground. Establishing each well program includes:
- identifying a viable location;
- drilling the borehole;
- analyzing the water quality;
- training and equipping local villagers as pump minders;
- monitoring and evaluating the program;
- mobilizing the community and building the capacity of the village water committee;
- distributing antibiotics to fight the blinding eye disease, trachoma; and
- educating the community on eye health and general health.
Having ready access to clean potable (drinkable) water provides families with enough water that they can spare some for washing hands and faces – and this improved hygiene, in turn, helps prevent disease. And being closer to water also helps free up enough time from their household duties for girls to attend school.
Today, many more girls in the district are attending classes safely and on time. They go to school with plastic containers so they can carry water home from the borehole when their classes end. They know going to school means they can learn to read and write, which will improve their chances for a better life someday.
The girls at Nyanga school in Sinazongwe are especially grateful and excited to continue their studies. “We are still in the primary school, and we look forward to continuing with our education to become teachers or nurses so we can also help our people in this district.”
And all this progress was made possible by generous people just like you. Thank you!
You can help give more girls the chance to live their childhood, to follow their dreams and build a future for themselves. Help provide them with clean water – give a donation and support our water programs today!