In Sipho’s community, clean water was scarce.
As the sun would rise, the women of the community would leave their homes carrying large, empty buckets. The rugged dirt paths were familiar, as was the strain of transporting the water home on their heads and shoulders.
The water was often unclean, but it would have to do.
After many hours and 15 kilometres of walking, the women would return home. Many were left with no time for household chores, meaning their homes were susceptible to hygiene-related disease.
As a divorcee with three children, Sipho faced significant challenges of her own. Making a humble living as a small scale farmer, access to water was vital for both her family and the animals that provide part of her income.
Knowing how important safe water is, Sipho volunteered as chairperson of the local borehole committee.
When she joined, the committee already had one borehole from Showers of Blessings, but the output of water was too low to meet the community’s needs.
With more than 3.5 million people dying from water and sanitation related causes worldwide each year, the lack of water output threatened to devastate the community. The committee requested for another borehole to be drilled and much to Sipho’s joy, the request was granted.
The community has taken full responsibility for the invaluable resource, ensuring that the bore is clean and well maintained. They even raised funds to fence the area around it to keep it as sanitary as possible.
Women in sub-Saharan Africa spend a collective 16 million hours a day collecting drinking water. A further four million children follow suit - but for the women and children of Sipho’s community, life is looking different.
The rugged dirt paths that were once so familiar are less travelled these days, with clean drinking water only minutes away.
Women are able to spend time in their homes, fostering a healthy environment for their families. The presence of waterborne diseases has dropped. Because of this, children are spending more days at school, giving them brighter prospects for the future.
With a small farm and little help, day to day life is still difficult for Sipho - but with access to clean water, better health and more time to dedicate to her work, she has high hopes for the community and the generations to come.