Could you laugh and carry on a conversation balancing 40 lbs of water on your head for a mile and a half? Bosco goes to GS Kizi Primary School and wants to be a doctor after completing high school. Students like this always have big dreams, but few are lucky enough to complete high school, let alone go on to college and pursue a career of their dreams.
Part of the reason students aren't able to to make it through high school (or even primary school) is because they miss 3-5 days every month from water-related illnesses. Others miss class because they have to walk long distances to get water. Teachers tell us that students often struggle to concentrate in class because they haven't had anything to drink during an entire morning session.
In these rural conditions, it's easy to feel powerless. Schools often have 500-1,000 students, and teacher ratios of 50-to-1 and 75-to-1 are not uncommon. In spite of low pay and poor conditions, I'm always amazed by how hard teachers work to benefit their students, making huge sacrifices in their own time and comfort to ensure their students are able to have a good education. These are often the best places to invest in water and sanitation programs, not only because of the impact it can have in a child's life, but because these teachers are committed to making sure that the work is sustainable. Every time we visit our school programs we listen to student-led health clubs sing songs about good hygiene practice, while teachers proudly show off latrine facilities for boys and girls and newly installed water points. It's these seemingly small things that have ripple effects across communities and countries.
This year we are helping over a dozen schools have safe water. Bosco's school is one of them. We are just one small part of his journey, but we hope and pray he is able to realize his dreams.