Most of us don’t think twice about pouring a glass of water when we are thirsty or washing our dirty dishes after a meal, but for children like ten-year-old Lisha, access to clean water is not as simple. Lisha lives in a rural village in Luangwa, Zambia with her parents and three siblings. Every day Lisha and her mother walk nearly one kilometre to the nearest swamp that connects to the Luangwa River. These are dangerous waters because the swamp is shared with animals and carries waterborne diseases like Bilharzia.
Lisha and her family travel to the swamp at least three or four times a day to collect enough water for all six family members. Making this many trips often leaves Lisha too tired to go to school. “I wake up early to escort Mummy to the swamp to draw water for cooking, drinking and bathing. Sometimes we go there twice in the morning, and I get tired.”Lisha and her mother make the trip up to four times day
When asked how she would feel to have water close to her home, Lisha smiles and said “I would not have to wake very early and I would have more time to play with my friends especially netball which I like. My younger brother would also not get sick of diarrhoea, life would be very good.”
But one of the most dangerous problems for Lisha and her family is that the swamp is filled with crocodiles. Crocodile attacks are common in this area and they have left the community scared for the lives of their children as well as their own. Recently, a mother who had a child on her back was caught by a crocodile while getting water from the swamp. The child dropped from its mothers’ back and was taken away by the crocodile and never seen again.Crocodiles lie in wait
Even though they know how dangerous the crocodiles are, Lisha’s family do not have any other choice as they need water to survive. For Lisha’s mother, the scariest part is when Lisha goes to the swamp with her friends to get water for the family. “Lisha is my eldest child and so when I’m busy, she goes with her friends to the river, it is very scary and I count the minutes until she returns.”
Lisha’s mother shares her hopes for the future, and they are very simple. “I dream of having a proper water source near our home, so that my children’s lives would be protected and have clean water for drinking and bathing. That way they would concentrate on school and live in better homes in future.”
We might look forward to running a warm bath after a long day, but children like Lisha are looking forward to their first drink of clean water.
To help Lisha’s family and other families like hers, please consider giving to ChildFund’s Dangerous Waters AppealThe water Lisha collects for drinking, bathing and washing