Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

No child should have to fight for a drink of water at school.

But that’s exactly what five-year-old Yonatal and his classmates had to do in Ethiopia.

Their school did not have any running water and students would fight to get what little water was available at the only water container on the grounds.

Yonatal often had to walk home during schools hours if he was thirsty. At other times, the water available at school was so dirty it made him Yonatal ill, which meant he missed class as a result.

“Yonatal was affected by diarrheal diseases frequently from the unsafe water he used to drink at his school,” his mother, Simegne, says.

When Yonatal’s ChildFund sponsor heard about the situation he agreed to support the construction of a water line that would bring safe water to the school.

As part of the project, the school was connected to the closest water point. A washing station with several faucets was built, so that children could wash their hands and avoid sicknesses.

The ongoing food crisis, which the United Nations described as the worst humanitarian emergency since World War II, has put Africa front and centre in our newsfeeds.

Unfortunately, it often takes extreme and tragic events for the rest of the world to turn its attention to what is happening in the world’s second-largest continent.

High levels of poverty are still experienced by far too many children and families in a number of African countries. But focusing solely on these problems can lead to outdated stereotypes that all children in Africa are “poor kids” living in traditional huts. This is not an accurate reflection – the reality is far more complex, and far more interesting.

So here are a few facts that might just change the way you think about Africa, and it’s place in our global neighbourhood.

Four out of five people in Africa have a mobile phone

It is a common stereotype that children in Africa have no access to modern technology. That’s not true – currently, around 80% have mobile phones.

In Kenya, the statistics are even higher with nine out of ten people owning a mobile phone. But this is still in stark contrast to the fact that one in two houses does not have adequate sanitation and the average school has only one toilet for every 100 children. This can lead to the outbreak of disease, many of which are particularly deadly for young children.