As we near Valeska Primary School, the entry is flanked by children beaming at us, smiles stained brown by dangerously fluoridated groundwater. In the last two years, school attendance has dropped from 1153 to 791 students. Most parents are farmers, and drought-dried up funds for education. Valeska’s pump is often broken or run dry, so women and children walk hours to the river for unsafe water.
Today though, we’re here to celebrate a different future. The rainwater harvesting system we built on the school is complete, and the community has invited us to a handover ceremony. We don’t do this work for the fanfare, but we have learned the importance of these occasions. You are always but one step away from being either a giver or a receiver.
In becoming a recipient of a community’s gratitude, you grant the dignity of giving thanks – and that means everything.
There are speeches. The women present bright cloths and blankets, and the children perform a song. Soon, we join the dancing, shaking to drums and laughter. We look up at the gathering clouds – it seems we have danced in the rain.
This tank on the school is just the first step. We will build a community greenhouse, and more domestic tanks with residential greenhouses. As we leave, Joseph is arranging to teach drought-resistant farming techniques. It starts with water, but because water is life, it ripples out to so much more. As more of these children grow up drinking safe, clean water, the smiles we see will be whiter and gleam brighter.
Water has been our bridge into the heart of this community. It is the bridge from the present to an abundant future filled with possibility. It is the bridge to food security, to empowerment, health, prosperity and dignity. We build tanks – but really, we’re building bridges.
Just like rainwater turns into hope, your donation turns into life-changing opportunities. Join us as we continue to build bridges.
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