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A Grandmother’s Struggle with Dirty Water in Uganda

How a Water Well Changed This African Grandmother's Life

In Uganda, it is not uncommon for children to be raised by their grandmothers, often when parents are no longer together or both have passed away. Anena Kevin’s family is one such example. Anena and her brother Ezra are being cared for by their grandmother, Acan Margaret. She explains, “I have my two lovely ‘children’ to care for. Their mother separated from their father and had to start working in town.”

Acan Margaret does her best to provide for the children by growing vegetables in her garden. Their mother sends what money she can, but it is never quite enough. The food from the garden helps, but what the family needed most was access to safe, clean drinking water. Their only water source was an open waterhole and they used this water for everything including drinking.

The open waterhole was a stagnant body of water shared with local livestock. The water was green with algae and you could see tadpoles and other visible contaminants. Acan always felt guilty when she gave that water to the children, saying, “Each time I saw them drinking that water, it always felt like I had given them poison to drink. I couldn’t stop them from drinking it because I knew they were thirsty.”

The guilt was exacerbated when her children contracted typhoid and other waterborne diseases. Acan sighs and adds, “I am already old and don’t have much to lose, but my children have their whole lives ahead of them.”

On days when she had the energy, she would make the two-kilometer walk to a well at the nearest trading center to fetch clean water.

The journey was physically demanding due to her age and health, but she persisted for the sake of the girls. Acan recalls, “I used to walk to the trading center while the girls were at school. The walk there with two empty jerricans was okay, but the walk back took longer. It was tough, but it was worth it to see the girls drinking clean water.”

In order to make the return trip more manageable, Acan started carrying smaller containers, but this still only provided enough water for drinking. For all of their other household needs, they had to use dirty water.

Besides the distance, there was also the challenge of navigating the slippery path back up the hill from the well. People often fell while trying to carry the water. Acan recalls, “One time I got stuck about halfway down the muddy slope. It had just rained, and the ground was slippery. I was carrying water at the time, but I could not go forwards or backwards without falling down.” Fortunately, her granddaughter, Acan Evelyn, heard her cries for help and rescued her.

Clean Water Changed Everything for This African Grandmother

Grateful for the change, Acan Margaret remarks with a soft voice, “If it weren’t for you, I would have fallen to my death or broken a leg fetching water.” She is so happy that Drop in the Bucket came to Oturuloya Lagwedola and drilled this a well.

“I am so happy that my family now has access to clean water. Please thank the donor who funded this well and changed our lives”.

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