December 10, Seeing!- Aimee Neff
We started our day off at Shabila village. They greeted us with dancing and singing, leading one to believe there was a celebration happening! They were celebrating having visitors, which we found out would be a re-occurring theme throughout the day. We heard testimonies from Katherine, Abitrus, Julius and Elida. They each shared their daily struggles that revolved around not having access to clean water, and at times, any water at all due to drought.
Abitrus (late 20s) and Elida (11 years old) showed us how they retrieved water from their current well which is 30 feet deep. The rocks around it are slippery, it is not sanitary and oftentimes has snakes around it making it dangerous to access. As I watched Abitrus drink the dirty water, every alarm in my body went off. The need for clean, safe water is real. These women and men in the village risk their lives every day to get water.
Next up, we headed to a Malambo community school. We again were met by smiling faces and dancing which was contagious! The joy that each person has that we have met regardless of how their circumstances and how little they have, is truly astounding. A total of 111 students, 58 girls and 55 boys, are packed into a small facility without desks, running water and proper sanitation. The parents of this community were amazing as they volunteer in order to teach the kids, knowing how important it is for them to receive an education.
We heard testimonies from four children, as the school serves students grades 1st-6th. Each expressed various challenges in getting to school and lack of access to clean, safe water. For young women who start their menstrual cycle, they are unable to go to school, causing them to fall behind and often fail exams and get behind in their studies.
Lastly, we ended the day at Chilimba Health Post where we of course met with none other than singing, dancing, poetry and joy. This clinic sees nearly 900 cases in a month. without, you guessed it, clean water. They are also lacking appropriate lighting and space for the amount of foot traffic they have each month. A couple of women shared their stories of giving birth at the facility without clean water after walking over 4 kilometers to reach the clinic on rugged terrain. It is one thing to know about an issue, but to see it in person and experience even in the smallest of ways, elevates its impact.
There were bright spots scattered throughout the day, but the real encouragement came in knowing that Golf Fore Africa and World Vision have committed to bring clean, safe water to Shabila village, Malambo community school and Chilimba Health Post. Next to air, water is the second most important need for people. It is 2019 and still blows my mind that there are millions without this basic need. Yet through every obstacle and challenge, we saw strong men, women, boys and girls. Their resiliency, joy and strength are second to none.
In order for these communities to become sustainable and not dependent, a great deal of collaboration and teaching takes place. Before any well is built, the community must be at least 95% compliant and go through WASH programming by World Vision that educates them on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. As much as we want change to happen overnight, lasting change takes understanding and time. Today was a day, I pray never leaves my memory. There is always something to find joy in and the people I met today showed me.
“If you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem.” -African Proverb