Before I knew what was happening, it was too late.
Eighteen-year-old Flavia looks down at the ground, examining an army of ants marching by, forming her words carefully in attempt to steady her shaking voice.
Like millions of young people around the world, Flavia has carried the burden of dirty water for as long as she can remember.
It was like any other day. Flavia and her 5-year old sister made the long journey to collect water at a stagnant pool deep in the forest. Rising before dawn, the pair would make their way into the thick underbrush, following the tracks of hundreds of other barefooted children from Bulyantete, their bustling village of 4,500 residents in rural Uganda.
It was the expectation of every child in the village, a time-honored tradition that occupied thousands of hours of childhood, and stifled all opportunities for progress. Flavia knew from experience that if they lingered on the path for even a minute, the watering hole could be occupied for hours by other water collectors, causing them to arrive late, or even miss school altogether.
It was a dangerous task. Droves of mosquitos hovered above the slimy film that had settled over the surface of the water. This polluted pool was their breeding ground . . . a hotbed for contracting the deadly malaria they carried. Flavia knew of several children who had died from the disease, just because they were exposed to it so often while fetching water.
When they arrived, the sisters worked quickly to fill their yellow jerry cans. As the sun began to rise above the trees, Flavia heard frantic splashing on the other side of the pool, followed by muffled screams. Abandoning her jerry can, Flavia sprinted around the bank, only to be met by the deafening sound of silence and ripples in the filthy, contaminated water.
Struggling in the slippery mud, Flavia plunged into the watery grave, forgetting for a moment that she was unable to swim. Holding onto a tree root, she struggled in the murky water until finally grabbing the limp hand of her sister. By this time, others had arrived at the pool and rushed to help. But it was too late. Dirty water had claimed yet another helpless, young victim.
But Flavia’s story doesn’t end here.
Through the generosity of causelife supporters, a new well was built in Bulyantete, providing water for the entire village . . . revolutionizing life for thousands.
Looking out over the crowds of children eagerly splashing in the clean water, Flavia knew there would be no more long journeys into the forest. Hundreds of boys and girls would now be able to go to school. They wouldn’t be constantly plagued by malaria. They have a chance at a future full of promise and possibility. And despite the tragedy of her sister’s death, there’s hope for the future . . . for the generations of children who will never have to experience the loss of another loved one to the water crisis.
It’s stories like Flavia’s that make each dollar raised and each well built worth the effort. Water is the impetus for change, for sustainability, for transformation . . . and for hope. We’ve seen that when people have hope, they don’t just survive—they prosper.
Thank you for doing something about the World Water Crisis and investing in the lives of hundreds of people. We hope you’ll continue to help us change the world with the gift of clean water.