“Amref Health Africa fixed our local pump. Now I don’t have to walk miles to fetch water and can stay in school. I want to be a doctor.”
It doesn’t rain much here in my village of Oikiloriti in southern Kenya. There are no permanent rivers, so each day is a big challenge to find enough water for washing, cooking and our cattle. My name is Elisa. I am 13 years old and a member of the Maasai, a nomadic tribe who live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.
My day begins at 5:30am when I wake up to a gurgling sound, as my mother fills a jerry can with our morning water for bathing and breakfast. I get out of bed, wash up, get dressed and help with breakfast.
I live in a mud hut in a ‘boma’, a little village of huts surrounded by a fence made of thorn branches. Of course we have no water taps at home, so we must go and fetch water from the nearby community water source. As I get ready for school, my mother loads the donkeys with empty jerry cans. On school days, she gets the water, but on weekends, it’s my chore to get it with my older sister-in-law and the donkeys of course.
I’m not allowed to get water alone – it’s too dangerous. I remember when it was so much harder to get water. I had to spend hours every day fetching water from the small far off lakes. And the water wasn’t even clean – often it actually made us sick. I remember at that time that our ugali, the white Kenyan maize porridge, was always very brown from the dirty water.
But then, eight years ago, Amref Health Africa worked with our community to fix the nearby water pump, giving us a clean water source that we still use and know how to maintain. It may sound surprising, but if they had not fixed the water pump, I might not be able to go to school. Before, when I had to fetch water for hours each day, there was no time for my schooling. Now I can go to school because the water is close enough that my mother can fetch it herself during the week – and still have time for her other daily tasks.
As a young Maasai girl, I have one big challenge – to make sure I get an education. But I really, really love school, especially science. I’m very proud that I’ve been going to school since I’ve been six years old. Many Maasai girls are kept home by their parents, as they prefer their daughters to help in the household and marry at a young age, so their fathers can receive a couple of cows in return, as a dowry. I’m always afraid that if it were more difficult to fetch water, I would have to quit school and look after getting the water every day instead.
I would like to become a doctor. Many sick people in my community don’t have the possibility to go to see a doctor, because we don’t have one in the neighbourhood and no one can afford the transportation costs. I would really like to help them.