The sun is rising. It’s 5am.
Justine, a 32-year-old mother of three, opens her eyes and rises from the large mat where she sleeps with her family in the village of Gbadengue in the Central African Republic.
Rain or shine, Justine and her oldest daughter will be fetching water first thing in the morning. They rinse out the two large bowls that they will carry on their heads in addition to carrying a jerry can in each hand. Justine has trouble carrying the jerry cans because over the years, pain has developed in her shoulders and elbows. Luckily, they live close to the water pump and can collect the water in just 20 minutes! Every day Justine is thankful she does not have to walk far and that she only has to go to the pump twice a day.
Justine’s country, the Central African Republic, faced serious violence and conflict in the last few years, and in that time the pump broke down. Justine sadly remembers how everyone had to go back to the creek, not just to bathe, but also to fetch water. Those were tough months, and two children from the village died from diarrhea, likely caused by the lack of clean water.
This was a really difficult period for everyone.
As the conflict subsided, Water for Good was able to repair the pump as part of a recovery project with the US Government. After repairing the pump, our local trainers Wilfried and Antoinette worked hard at re-organizing a village well committee. Justine noticed that the new committee really made a difference. There used to be trash around the well, large puddles and mud. No one liked to go there and wait in line. The committee did a great job leveling the ground around the pump, and also spent time visiting each home in the village to explain the guidelines for well usage. If people want clean water and a nice place to get the water, then everyone has to work hard to keep it clean and safe.
As of April this year, Justine also has a new responsibility. She volunteers at her children’s school to clean the latrines and hand-washing stations Water for Good teams recently built at the school. Water for Good trainers Christelle and Hulda worked with the student health clubs and parents like Justine to get hygiene and sanitation training to all the students. At the end of each school day, Justine now spends about 30-45 minutes cleaning the latrine floor and replenishing the hand-washing station bucket with water.
Above: newly constructed latrines, built by Water for Good this year
Before the latrines the hygiene problems were particularly bad during the rainy season. The children would defecate in the field next to the school, which was on a slope. Rains would flood the field and everything would flow into the creek, where most children go to bathe early in the morning. Justine remembers all the typhoid and diarrhea cases because of this…everyone in Gbadengue remembers how bad it was. Isolated cases still occur, but the new sanitation and hygiene measures at the school have helped tremendously.
For Justine and her children, these latrines are a life-changer.
Justine is proud to help as a volunteer. She knows she is contributing to the improvement of the village’s sanitation and hygiene and she knows how much the kids use the hand washing station. Every other day, Justine has to go fetch water at the well to replenish the soap and water.
Above left: Christelle & Hulda, Water for Good village trainers.
Above right:Hulda demonstrating the new hand washing station outside the school in Gbadengue.