Voices

Nivesh begins to dream of water and beyond

Nivesh is a girl whose dreams were dying before they ever had a chance. But today the promise of clean water is giving new life to her dreams!

Without clean water, you and your clothes stay dirty. Imagine being too ashamed to go to church. To school. Without hope or community around you.

Nivesh is a girl whose dreams were dying before they ever had a chance. See how the promise of clean water is giving new life to her dreams!

*      *      *

I have never encountered so many people who were so ashamed to be dirty as I did on a recent trip to Zambia. Mother after mother told me how they wouldn’t go to church — how they were either busy fetching water and couldn’t go, or feeling so dirty that they didn’t want to mingle with other people.

When you are hopeless, you need community. A lack of water — and how dirty the water was when they finally found it and got it back home in a bucket — was denying these women community.

“When you come to school dirty, people laugh at you,” 11-year-old Nivesh told me. “They say, ‘You can’t even wash your own clothes.’”

Nivesh told me she would spend an entire day walking to collect water so she could go to school the next day. She was afraid of that walk — of the people and animals she might encounter along the way — but had to make the journey three times each day. And the weight of the water was too heavy for her.

She had no choice.

She was a girl whose dreams were dying before they had a chance to take flight.

Photographer Jon Warren wanted to take Nivesh’s picture with a group of three other children by a dirty water pond. Because Nivesh lives so far from the main town, Choma, World Vision staff had to pick her up, along with her mother, and drive them to Hamaundu, where the photo was being created.

It was a sunset shot, so they would have to sleep the night in Choma to be ready early in the morning.

Nivesh (center-right, in purple) stands with three other children who have been affected by bad water sources. (Photo: ©2014 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

I wish I could have stayed with them. On that night in Choma, Nivesh took her first shower. She sat on her first real toilet — her school doesn’t even have a latrine. She turned on a tap and water flowed. She watched a television for the first time. She even slept in a bed.

The next day we saw Nivesh. She was wearing my soft, blue sleeveless vest. It had gotten cold that night and I gave it to her to keep her warm. Nivesh was a new person that morning. She was clean and fresh. She now had a dream. She said she would try even harder to go to school so that someday she could live in Choma, a place she couldn’t even have imagined before.

World Vision is working to put a borehole in at Nivesh’s school with proper toilets for good sanitation and hygiene. Things are going to change for Nivesh, her mother, and her family.

I think about Nivesh carrying water and wearing my blue vest. I think about her trying hard in school and dreaming about showers, toilets, hot and cold water, and that magical television.

And I am so grateful for you — the donors who will make her dreams come true.


When you walk or run World Vision’s Global 6K for Water, every step you take is one that girls like Nivesh don’t have to! Walk with us on May 6 so children can be healthy and unafraid, and go to school. Sign up today!

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