Water helps bring dignity to women in Kenyan community

Before the drilling and installation of the borehole, we used to walk 12 kilometres (8 miles) away searching for water. We used to queue at the water source for hours before one gets 20 litres of dirty water; some would stay there up to 3 a.m. in the morning so as to get water since the recharge was slow.

Margaret Ekwam
Margaret Ekwam.
Photo: CWSEA

Providing access to safe water in a water stressed community can be transformational. Here is Margaret Ekwam's description of how life changed for women when CWS, working with a local partner, helped her community of Kapua install borehole wells:

Before the drilling and installation of the borehole, we used to walk 12 kilometres (8 miles) away searching for water. We used to queue at the water source for hours before one gets 20 litres of dirty water; some would stay there up to 3 a.m. in the morning so as to get water since the recharge was slow. Our children both boys and girls didn’t have enough time to go to school and even sleep at night because they used to accompany us to the water points

Initially when the work begun I did not believe that water would be available next to our doorsteps.  Today we celebrate in jubilation beyond my imagination because God has answered our prayers, which we have been praying since time immemorial. The activities of women that were so heavy, have been reduced drastically since the water is found next to our homestead. 

My biggest celebration is about cleanliness, everybody in Kapua is now clean especially women. Before the water program, most of us wore animal skin because it was not possible to get water to wash our clothes, the animal skin was easy to handle as one would use for a very long time. All of us used to smell bad. Due to sanitation and hygiene issues, during community meetings women could not sit under the same shade with men, the situation was really bad for women especially during times of heavy (monthly period), with no water to wash, no clothes to change, during this particular time, women stayed in isolation for the entire period.

We thank God because of the availability of water in Kapua, women are keeping private what is private to them. What I have learnt is that dignity builds once self esteem, the fact that we are clean, we put on clothes like any other women in the world we can talk about our lives, I have courage to share this story, as now it is history, our children will never go through the same situation. I have also been selected to be on water management committee as a member, something that could not have happened before as women in this community were only to be seen and not to heard.

In addition to water program ACK has educated us on sanitation and personal hygiene. For the first time in our lives families including mine, we have and we are using pit latrines. ACK provided us with slaps and we worked at household levels to do a latrine with locally available materials but good enough to take care of our sanitation issues. This is too good to be true because before during the heavy rains that we are now experiencing in our area, there was a lot of diseases. I have not heard that people are sick or dying from vomiting and diarrhea (chloral) this has affected us every rain season, we have lost many people especially children and the every old.

What God has kept for His people no one can keep it away, Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) and CWS were sent to our community by God because there is no other organization or people that have come to work with us. The only vehicle we saw in our community for many years was Red Cross lorry providing relief food.

Media Contact:
Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676, lcrosson@churchworldservice.org
Jan Dragin, 781-925-1526, jdragin@gis.net


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