Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Unreliable sources of water in rural communities can be devastating for children and their families, leading to life-threatening illnesses, diarrhoea and even famine. ChildFund sponsors have helped a young boy and his family in Zambia overcome these challenges.

Joshua is a shy nine-year-old boy from a remote community in south-central Zambia where, for generations, hundreds of families struggled to access water.

For Joshua, the water challenges in his community forced him to grow up too quickly, too soon.

Up until he was six years old, he spent most of his time looking after his two younger sisters while his parents collected water throughout the day.

His parents were out for hours at a time, and he would often have to soothe his little sisters when they cried.

“They would cry because they were hungry,” Joshua said. “I would try to make them stop crying. I used to hold my baby sister until my mother came, and give her some leftovers from the previous night.”

 

Mary and Rehema sleep in adjoining bunks at a girls’ dormitory built by ChildFund at a school in Samburu County, Kenya.

They’re both 14, and when they get a little older, they both want to work in healthcare. There’s something empowering about the idea of becoming a professional healer. Where they’re from, girls don’t often get that opportunity.

In the pastoral communities of north-central Kenya, the pace of life rises and falls with the seasons.

The sweltering blue sky of the dry season grows gray and heavy when the rains come, first the short rains and, later, the long.

Livestock — the basis of the local economy — are born, have their own babies and die. Most children grow up helping their families look after cattle, donkeys, camels and goats.

But for girls — who often aren’t encouraged to go to school — livestock sometimes becomes the inherent, inadvertent purpose of their lives, the limit of their learnings about the world.