Ran several hours every day to fetch water

In Mbulu, Tanzania, the village of Goje has expereinced a major change since a new well was build.

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As the sun rose, the little girl rushed out the door with the water jug. Every day was an eternal battle against the clock, where she had to run to the water pond and back home in three hours before starting school.

"I was always tired and had no energy for anything", 15-year-old Deodata Julius recalls.

We are in the village of Goje in Mbulu, Tanzania, in Deodata's childhood home, where she grew up with her parents and siblings. From the garden, they have a fantastic view over the beautiful Rift Valley, which runs through a number of African countries. The house is surrounded by both maize and sunflowers – plants that tolerate drought well. For here, climate change has tightened its grip around the village. Long periods of drought have caused major problems for everyone who lives here.

"Everything here has been about fetching water. I went to fetch water every morning at five o'clock and spent two hours. When I got home, I ran to school so as not to be late. After school I ran home to run for two more hours. It was not until half past eight in the evening that I could sit down to do my homework", she says.

She especially dreaded fetching water in the afternoon, because she was often so exhausted that she didn't get home until dark.

"I thought it was extra scary to walk in the dark", she recalls.

Empty desks

"Here, here, here!", shouts Deodata and receives the ball that comes whizzing across the schoolyard. Today's activity is free time and netball.

"I love everything to do with sports. It's so nice to use your body. Netball, football, running and jumping rope are the funniest things I know", she smiles.

In the schoolyard of the secondary school in Gidhim in Goje, there is life and bustle. Laughter, chatter, and activity can be heard from miles away. This was not the case a few years ago. Then both the desks and the school yard were empty. Lack of water meant that many people had to prioritize water over education. One of them was Deodata.

Fetching water was often the most important thing she did. The school came second. Homework had to give way to dishes, laundry, and childcare - until the village got a well. Then life changed for the three thousand inhabitants of the village. Not least for the 15-year-old. After several years of poor schooling, some important decisions were made in her family.

"My parents decided that I should invest everything in school, so now I go straight home and do my homework. I no longer have to fetch water or help as much at home. Now I will get an education".


Big difference with the well

It quickly turned out to be a good investment, because if there's one thing she's really good at, it's school. Favourite subjects are physics, chemistry, and biology. And those subjects come in handy when the 15-year-old is going to follow her dream.

"I want to become a doctor, so that I can save people and help them".

The principal of the school, Martini A. Masawe, says that he sees a big difference in life before and after they got a well in the village.

"We experienced many empty desks, and it was especially the girls who did not show up. Now all the pupils are back, around 400 in number, so it is a pleasing development. Now the school can also benefit from water in the immediate vicinity. Within fifteen minutes we have enough water for everyone".

Not only do they have enough clean water to drink, but there is also clean water for cooking, so the students can have a hot meal every single day.

 "Life here has really changed", he concludes.



Photos: Norwegian Church Aid/Håvard Bjelland.