Amani walks 2 kilometers to school each way. She was responsible for collecting water for her family, which was an additional 1 kilometer past her school. The water she collected was from a dirty shallow water hole.
In total, she would walk 6 kilometers every day with a bucket of water on her head for 3 of those kilometers. Some days, she was so tired from walking, especially during the warm months, that she did not bother going to school. If she did attend school, she would be much too tired to study or complete her homework once she arrived home.
In her school, the classroom structures were dilapidated and falling apart. There were some classrooms at her school which contained 100-150 children in one room with one teacher. Because of the lack of space and resources, some classrooms met outside under the tree. Amani’s teacher told the students they were sitting outside to get fresh air but she knew it was due to the over-crowding inside. Amani would sit outside at her desk with 2 other girls on the seat crammed next to her and look out into the trees. It was difficult to pay attention or even hear her teacher who was trying her best to maintain class control while teaching new information.
Because she frequently missed school, Amani fell behind in her studies. She was unable to keep up with her studies and became very discouraged. Feeling hopeless and defeated, Amani decided to drop out of school at age 11. At this point, she felt good about having more time to collect water for her mother but every day on walk she would see the other school children smiling, walking to school and she could not help but feel a bit of jealousy. She missed feeling the freedom of being a child and the excitement of learning.
6 months after dropping out of school, African Reflections Foundation installed a deep-solar powered well at Mwongozo School, Amani’s previous school. She attended the well opening, along side her mother. At the celebration, Amani looked around at the people of her village and saw smiles and laughter in faces she had never seen before. Everyone splashed around in the water and had their first drink of clean drinking water.
On their walk home, Amani’s mother Karima told her she wanted her to begin attending school again immediately. With tears in her eyes, she apologized to Amani for allowing her to stop her studies and expressed her gratitude to Amani for the sacrifice she made to help her family.
Since returning to school, Amani told us she has never been more happy. With the convenience of having a fresh water source at her school, she can focus on school and not dread the walk to the dirty water hole she was previously collecting water from.