Tucked away in the northern district of Mecubúri, Mozambique lies the small community of Cruzamento Vanessa. The kids here are much like kids anywhere—they go to school, have chores, love to dance and listen to music, and they have dreams for the future. In school, 15-year-old Dino Francisco (above center) loves math and natural science, and aspires to become a doctor. And soft-spoken 14-year-old Angelina Gaspar (above, top left) loves to study foreign languages, aspiring to one day becoming a teacher. These two live everyday with the hope and excitement of nearly every young teenager around the world, but with an extra sense of appreciation—just a few years ago, their community was ridden with illness because of a lack of fresh water.
The availability of safe water is rare in rural Mozambique. In response to this problem, CARE Mozambique's program HAUPA (Environmental Hygiene and Productive Use of Water) began operations here in March 2005. HAUPA partners with local organizations and foreign governments to provide access to safe water by drilling boreholes, and providing conservation education to over 260,000 people in five districts in northern Mozambique.
“Before the borehole, we were suffering,” says Dino. “Many people were sick, but mostly children. I was sick lots of times—I had headaches, my stomach hurt, and I got diarrhea. I was very angry, because water made me sick every time and I didn’t know that meant it was contaminated.” Children suffer more from contaminated water than adults, because of their weaker immune systems.
As soon as a child's legs and necks grew strong enough to walk long distances and balance the full, tilting buckets of water, she began the chore of water fetching. “I began fetching water when I was seven years old,” Angelina recalls. “The river was about 10km (6 miles) from home, and the trip took two hours. I had to go three times a day because my water carrier was small. And I would drink water, and my stomach would hurt.” In addition to physical fatigue, these trips took time away from school. And there was always the risk of malaria, cholera, or even death.
But for the survival of the community and themselves, all available hands had to pitch in.
In another tiny village about five hours away, two young teenagers recall their own trials. Nacucha, which lies in the neighboring district of Erati, 15-year-old Cornelio Amilcar (far right) and 14- year-old Laurinda Antonio (left) share their memories of life without safe water.
In addition to receiving the borehole, Nacucha has benefited greatly from CARE’s education on hygiene and the importance of latrines. “We learn hygiene in school. They teach us to bathe everyday, keep our fingernails cut, and about dental hygiene,” reports Cornelio. He loves school, especially learning Portuguese and English; he wants to be a civil engineer, he says, so that he can build structures that will help other people.
Bright-eyed Laurinda loves school as well, and gives a heartening “Good Morning!” in English to practice what she has learned in class! “My family has a latrine now,” she says, “which is important because it helps to protect us from illnesses, like malaria and cholera.” She wants to become a nurse, and aspires to visit a country not often on the minds of the average kid — Tanzania.
CARE has worked in Mozambique since 1986 in water and sanitation, agriculture and economic development, and health and HIV. CARE was founded in 1945 to assist European victims of World War II, and has since grown to one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations. CARE believes that women, equipped with the proper resources, have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty.