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Water & Sanitation

Girls Spend Hours Collecting Dirty Water, Not Going To School

World Vision

When I was six, I would've loved any excuse to stay at home with my mom from school. One little girl in Africa would love just the opposite.

Read More: How Better Water Can Lead to Better Jobs

My friend Kari recently travelled to Zambia and met eight young children whose lives were affected by their lack of access to clean water. One girl, Claris, is the only girl in her family, and while her brothers are able to attend school, she’s unable because of her daily responsibility to help her mother retrieve water each day – water that’s contaminated, dirty and unsanitary.

Here’s what Kari found out about Claris’ unforgiving reality.

No one in the community knew the dog had drowned in their water hole until its fur started floating to the surface. That’s when villagers poked around the bottom of the hole with a long stick and found the remains of the bloated, dead dog.

Claris, only 6, fetches water twice a day from this hole. She is tiny and carries the 17-pound container of water for hours back to her house.

Her mother says that this is life in rural Zambia, where collecting water is more critical than schooling for girls.

“She’s a girl,” says her mother, Enness Mweemba. “I have to teach her to fetch water.”

Her other six children are boys. Fetching water is Claris’ lot in life. So is drinking the filthy water.

“Sometimes when you think about it, it makes you nauseous,” says Enness.

“The water, to me, is pain,” says Enness. “To know that dogs die and animals defecate here. But I have to drink it.”

So do her children — who often have bloody diarrhea.

Every day, nearly 1,400 children under 5 die from diarrhea caused by contaminated water, poor sanitation, and unsafe hygiene.

Read More: Girls in Kenya Wrote This Stunning Poem About Water

Motivated by our vision for life in all its fullness for every child, World Vision is working in Claris’ community to bring fresh, clean water along with healthy sanitation and hygiene practices to improve hers and her family’s quality of life. World Vision’s clean water efforts have reached over 2 million people in 26 countries, including Claris’ and seven other children’s communities.

Read More: What You Need to Know about Water and Sanitation

You can read more about their stories and how clean water can drastically change lives here. With your help, we could make it possible for her to go to school so much she starts looking for an excuse to stay home like I did.