My son, Kiama, and his friends walked to the water hole because they were thirsty. Kiama knelt at the edge and leaned down to get a drink, and that’s when he fell in. He friends tried to help, but no one knew how to swim. The stone was slippery. My son couldn’t climb out. The children ran for a mile to get help. I remember hearing my neighbor say, ‘A child has fallen into the water hole and drowned.’ We all ran as fast as we could – all silently praying that it was not our child. By the time we got there it was too late. The child in the water was dead. The child in the water was my son.
We walk for hours, every day, to find water. It’s what we do. And the journey is difficult and dangerous.
I share this story hoping that some positive change might come from my son’s death and from my grief.
– Christine, Mother and Resident, Kitui South, Kenya CMMB's CHAMPS initiative (Children and Mothers Partnerships (CHAMPS) initiative)
Namata is 12 years old and lives in a remote village within CMMB's CHAMPS program in Zambia. She is one of 66 students who walk three miles to school each day – often after hours of morning chores.
Namata’s school does not have water. Each child must bring two-and-a-half gallons of water to school each day to ensure that there will be enough on hand for drinking, food preparation, cleaning, and handwashing. The school has for basic latrines. All are in disrepair. School was already a struggle for Namata. Then one day, a friend noticed blood on her uniform. Namata says, “I was in class when I got my first period. I was so embarrassed. The teacher told me to go home. There is nowhere at school to clean up, and no sanitary supplies.”
Namata’s family cannot afford to buy sanitary pads. She uses reusable cloths. Without water or facilities at school, it’s impossibly for her to attend class during her menstrual cycle. She says, “I miss a lot of school now, and I feel like I keep falling behind.”
Namata’s teacher explains, “Lack of water and sanitary supplies has a huge impact on these girls. The tragedy is that many of them will decide to drop out of school and never return.