Women of Change

December 28, 2012 • Kenya

A clean water program also provides a means of support for widows in a Kenyan rural community

By Timothy Carter, Samaritan’s Purse Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program manager in Kenya

Providing food, water, and clothing for her three children is a daily struggle that Esha Moti cannot take for granted. When Esha was four months pregnant with her last child, her husband died of pneumonia and she was left to fend for her family.

However, Esha has refused to let her circumstances constrain her. In a culture where women often are treated with inferiority, Esha has been able to create positive change in the Chifiri community. Not only is she working hard for the betterment of her family and village, she has also inspired other women to do the same.

Samaritan’s Purse recently began a project to rehabilitate a water pan that was the only source of water for the community. Water from these pans quickly becomes impure and unsafe to drink, resulting in widespread diarrhea and other diseases. The one in Chifiri becomes so badly contaminated every year that the people are forced to stop using it even before it has dried completely.

Our major task was to construct an infiltration gallery and off-take well to allow the residents to collect water from a hand pump instead of entering the water pan. In addition to the water infrastructure improvements, Samaritan’s Purse launched a cash-for-work (CFW) program to support beneficiaries during a critical time.

During periods of drought, assets often dry up along with the water, leaving many families in a vulnerable state struggling to find their daily bread. Women such as Esha who head their household are especially targeted for CFW activities to ensure they can support their families.

Esha was one of eight widows selected to participate in the program. She was eager to learn how to do every task so she can gain potential job skills and continue with other improvements in the future, and she motivated all of the women to do the same. They received training on every aspect of the project, from mixing concrete to laying reinforcing steel bars for the concrete slab.

After the completion of the project, the women exclaimed that with their newfound skills they will be able to construct their own household latrine slabs to improve the health of their families.

It was truly inspirational to see the excitement on the faces of these women as they worked to be agents of change for their community. Motivated by Esha, Samaritan’s Purse plans to continue assisting Chifiri via a long-term Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program including latrine construction, hygiene promotion, and further water source improvements.

In addition to providing food, Esha was able to use her cash to buy clothes for her children, a necessity they have missed for some time.

She was delighted to express gratitude for Samaritan’s Purse, which not only provided clean water and a source of income but also was able to tell her about the One who loves Esha and her children.

Mungu waanin ilima yatima hagona wanwabusufi,” she said. “The God you are serving is a God who cares for the orphans and the widows.”