Clean Water – And its Benefits for Women’s Health!
Women Spend Hours Fetching Contaminated Water.
One of our most precious commodities is “time”!
From the moment we arise to the moment we lay our head on the pillow, we operate in the reality that within these hours that we are awake, we must strive to make the best use of our time. We create schedules, routines, and deadlines to assist in keeping us on track. We choose convenience for the desire to maximize our time. Our time is an investment, and because it is so valuable, we prioritize how we spend it for our work, play, friendships, and families.
For the woman in sub-Saharan Africa, her time is valuable too, yet her choices are few. From the moment she wakes up, she faces the task of survival. She allocates time for this very purpose because she must fetch water for food, bathing, and most importantly, drinking. Her awakening moment begins early in the morning, right before the sun emerges. She breathes in the crisp early morning air, plants her feet on the dry, dusty ground, and begins to walk. As her feet touch the ground, she takes deep breaths little by little and prepares for the journey that lies ahead. This journey is long, and it takes hours to complete. This one task takes a significant amount of her time. It is an interesting concept; without an in-depth knowledge of the water crisis, time and water seem unrelated, yet clean water dramatically impacts a woman’s time. The hours a woman spends fetching clean water limits her time to create income and have personal care. Clean water gives a woman choices to decide how to spend the time she is gaining. With a well only a short distance away, she has time for self-care and can prioritize her health and hygiene through Generosity Women’s health and hygiene program. The transformation that occurs when a woman has choices to take care of her body and health is life-changing. The options of how she will spend her time will determine the direction of her future!
Time truly is invaluable! It is intangible; an illusion that we cannot touch or see, yet it dictates our day-to-day tasks. Time allows growth, healing, celebrating, working, learning, sleeping, playing, and so much more. Time transcends all boundaries; it cannot be controlled, yet it needs to be managed. How we choose to spend our time determines the quality of our life. YOU can make that difference! Give the gift of time to women in rural Africa, a commodity not everyone is blessed to have.
Have you ever wondered how it feels to spend your days dirty, sweaty, and thirsty?
What does it feel like to live in shame because of your smell and appearance?
Until December 2013, these thoughts did not even form in my mind. It was not my reality, yet I quickly found out that women in sub-Saharan Africa are affected by these very circumstances. These women are mothers, wives, leaders, teachers, and farmers, and through their lens, it is not a foreign notion yet an inhumane crisis that has become normalized and is the culmination of lacking access to one essential resource: clean water! Generosity Global, a charity organization that I co-founded alongside my husband, began tackling the water crisis by providing access to clean water to people in sub-Saharan Africa. As we started this journey, various women shared personal stories and challenges they experienced daily. I learned how men, women, and children drank and digested water that is dirty and disease-stricken. Animals were bathing in rivers and streams while women fetched water for their families from the same water source. My heart was heavy. I saw the external yet could not shake the internal: How does this make them feel? Generosity Global can address several essential needs beyond just bringing access to clean water.
The journey of fetching clean water begins very early in the morning for women and young children responsible for this task. The rivers and streams from their homes are about four to six miles, taking away a woman’s time and most of her day. When she returns home, she is depleted and may have just enough water to cook and for her children. Bathing and taking care of her own hygienic needs comes secondary, which leads to a significant lack of personal hygiene.
Generosity Global has created a women’s initiative called “Generosity Women” to address women’s health and hygiene needs. Access to clean water is a critical gateway for this program to be established. The mission is to use the power of generosity to uplift women and restore their dignity and worth. I envision the Generosity Women’s health and hygiene program to embody essential elements which give women a sense of belonging. In this safe haven, they can connect, belong, manage, grow, and gain education and knowledge. A Generosity Women’s Center will be built specifically to fit women’s health, hygiene, and emotional needs. It will be the cornerstone and meeting area for our program where women will come or self-care after fetching clean water from the nearby and newly-built wells. Generosity Women will educate women on their reproductive health and teach the practice of good hygiene, from washing and sanitizing their hands to taking care of their bodies, specifically when they are on their menstrual cycle. Lack of access to clean water impacts women mentally and prevents cultivating habits of good hygiene. Other community members ostracize these women when they are menstruating because they wear blood-stained clothing and carry an odor because they utilize leaves, figs, and cardboard boxes to manage their blood flow. As a result, women’s worth and self-esteem are tainted with shame.
The work my team and I are doing in Kenya and Cameroon is transforming. Women are learning how to make reusable sanitary pads, be empowered to teach others, and lend their voice to the community. A woman can also monetize this valuable skill if she desires. The Generosity Women’s center will provide employment opportunities and increase the recognition of a woman’s value. Women can become leaders in their community because they regain lost time. The notion of walking miles to fetch water no longer exists, and they will have the time and opportunity to engage in activities that connect to their passion and purpose. We are changing the narrative.; uplifting and empowering women to becoming the best versions of themselves. Isn’t that the ultimate goal for us all? That is what connects us; the desire to be our best and belong to something greater than ourselves. We desire to feel worthy, to feel valued, and to THRIVE!!!!