“Imagine the sweltering heat in this Kerio Valley, all the sweating, and then there is no water to take a bath as you go to class as a teacher, it is very pathetic,” explains Nancy Chebii, a school teacher at Ayatya Primary school, in the Bartabwa Area program.
Nancy shared her story as we sat in the shade of an acacia tree talking with the area water committee. It is almost noon and it is already very hot due to the scorching heat that the area is known for.
Nancy has been a teacher for almost ten years and knows first hand the challenges of the lack of water in the area. She is a mother to two children, Denis, 19, and Clynias, 11, and has remained living here because she is from the area. “Students wasted lots of time getting water. Morning lessons especially, were interrupted in order to get water for cooking, school and lunch,” she explains. “Other children came to school without breakfast due to lack of water to cook at home. This meant that the school lunch was a critical meal for the children,” she adds. Without washing, the children’s clothes would be worn over and over and would become very dirty. Coughing was a common problem because of the dusty classrooms made of bare earth. Up to half of the children would miss classes in some instances.
For Nancy, the water situation was worsened because she is a woman. “Imagine a woman teacher like me, I would not take a bath because there was no water and no time to go for it at the river. Yet I had to be in class to teach while wearing my recycled clothes. It felt terrible as a woman,” says Nancy.
But with a sigh of relief, today she collects water at a kiosk just 100 yards from her home. She is all smiles and feels energized, dignified and motivated to teach her school children, now that World Vision, in partnership with the government, has provided clean piped water from the Ayatya borehole. “Now we are shining clean. I feel dignified to be clean and healthy,” Nancy adds. She recalls a time she had to be hospitalized due to a water-born infection. “I was hospitalized with typhoid fever before. But now I am healthy and feel good,” she says.
In the past, no female teacher wanted to work here because of the lack of water. Nancy is now optimistic that other female teachers will join her because there is water. “I have been the only female teacher here for a long [time],” she quips. There is no more worrying or uncertainty of where to get water. Instead, Nancy is focused on her students and she expects that their performance will improve greatly, now that the water problem has been solved. The Ayatya borehole is a big relief to the whole community.