Maria’s Story

The Girls’ Club at Chianga Primary School, Mozambique, love to play football. When they’re not learning about menstrual health and girls’ rights in the Club they’re running across the sandy playground, passing a ball and shouting with joy.

But two years ago, 11-year-old Maria didn’t have time to play. She didn’t even have time to learn. Instead, most of her time was spent looking for safe water that she could drink.

Almost a third of young girls in Mozambique, like Maria, don’t get the chance to finish Primary School. Instead, they are given the family role of ‘water collector’ and miss the opportunity. As a result, almost three-quarters of women in Mozambique are illiterate, impeding their ability to train for work, run a business or to earn their own income. It’s a knock-on-effect, but one that can be changed, with access to safe water.

There are a total of 617 pupils enrolled at Chianga. It’s common to have schools this size (and larger) in rural areas of Mozambique as communities are often spread far and wide. Children sometimes walk for hours to attend a school near them.

It’s also common for huge schools to have limited or unsafe facilities. Until 2019, there was no safe water source at Chianga School and just two toilets with zero facilities for handwashing or cleaning. Unsurprisingly, the headteacher recorded children regularly being absent with stomach illnesses.

Maria and her fellow students had three options: to either go thirsty; leave class to search for water (often walking miles to do so); or stay at home.

With the support of Water Can partner, Village Water, the Chianga School community now has a solar water system – a particularly cost-effective option in sun-drenched Mozambique for schools with huge populations.

The newly built storage tanks feed a network of taps around the site, and link to sanitation blocks with flushing toilets, showers and urinals. Families living around Chianga School, like Maria and her mum, stepdad and three younger siblings, can now walk to the taps and collect water for drinking, cooking and cleaning at any time.

Water Can partner, Village Water, also helped to set up the Girls’ Club that Maria attends, training teachers to create a safe space for girls to learn about the issues that impact them. She has also joined the new agriculture club and said:

“I was watering the plants in the nursery every day, I thought they would not grow. When they started to, I was very excited. I have already taken home some vegetables and I can’t wait to try what we were taught at home.”

With safe water and reliable sanitation, hundreds of children at Chianga are now happy and healthy. They can concentrate in class, and they have time and energy to go to Clubs that help them develop both emotionally and mentally. They’ve recently learnt about COVID-19 and how to prevent it from spreading.

The children can now, instead of spending time being sick or looking for water, do more important things – like being kids, learning and having fun! There’s now a much better chance of Maria finishing Primary School and moving up to Secondary. She told us:

“I enjoy going to school. I want to finish my studies and become a nurse.”

All of this starts with safe water and a tap. At Water Can we work with hard-to-reach communities across the world to enable and empower children like Maria by providing access to water resources that are sustainable and lasting.

All you have to do is ‘tap’ to donate. By doing so you will be helping us to transform lives, improve health and provide opportunities for the families and individuals we work with.