Mary’s life has been tough. At 22 years old she’s a single mother to two young children and HIV positive. Yet she’s a truly inspirational character. A tough cookie – her face lights up the room and, despite her youth, she often speaks on behalf of all the Kaniche women.
Many WaterAid supporters wrote to her personally to tell her how much her story had inspired them, so we spent an hour with her chatting and reading your messages together. She was amazed by the warmth that comes across from the messages you have sent to her community.
The process which has lead up to today has had a big impact on Mary. “Before I was on the water committee, we didn’t know who we were or what we could do” she said. She also talked about the lack of shared values and unity in the community, which made it hard to improve life.
Things are different now. Mary has found her voice.
For Mary, clean water also means a stronger sense of self and a new determination to improve her own life, her children’s lives, and her community.
Already, she’s played a role on the village Hygiene Committee, dug her own latrine, nursed her cholera-ridden children and overcome her own fears.
Having disease-free water nearby and a safe place to go to the toilet is particularly important for women, and Mary is determined it’s going to change her life. She’s a strong, feisty character and it’s clear that when Mary sets her mind to something, it happens.
No longer having to trek four hours each day to fetch water means Mary can follow her dream of independence. She’s going start a business brewing and selling sweet-beer, which is a local non-alcoholic delicacy. “I feel I can do it” she shouts, beaming and clapping her hands!
She also wants a brighter future for her two daughters. Her eldest, Noria, will no longer be late for school because of Mary’s walk for water, and she won’t be sick from diarrhea, and less at risk of cholera. Her baby Faith (pictured) simply won’t know the sickness, fear and misery dirty water has brought to Mary’s young life.
Mary’s life may have been tough, but so is she.
Collecting water from Kaniche’s first borehole: