From the Field

Life frames: A golden moment for water in Mali

Written and photographed by World Vision photographer Chris Huber

Canon EOS 6D

70-200mm lens, 1/160th at f/5, 1600 ISO

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She stood with purpose and promise. I noticed her rise among the women and children sitting inside the community center in Maraka, Mali. Light from the blazing midday sun shot through the dark room and illuminated her and the hope she carries.

As a World Vision photographer, I have the privilege to capture some of life’s most precious moments. On this day, I not only took this photo but was able to bear witness to our life-changing work to provide access to clean water in Mali.

I know access to clean water changes many people’s lives, especially women and girls, since they predominantly bear the burden of collecting water for the household. But water is especially precious here in semi-arid western Mali; I almost passed out twice working long days in the intense heat.

In places with long-held, sometimes harmful habits in certain aspects of life, people’s health suffers because they drink unsafe water and lack toilets and hand washing. As much as 84 percent of the rural population in Mali does not have access to hand-washing facilities with soap. So our work is vital to women like this soon-to-be mother — a mom whose child will live in a community with access to clean water.

Clean water nearby means less sickness like diarrhea for her family. It means her children can go to school. And it means her family can invest more time in each other because they spend less time collecting water.

But the benefits of bringing access to clean water can’t be fully realized until each community member changes his or her mind about improving personal hygiene and sanitation. This includes incorporating latrines, hand-washing stations, and dish-drying racks at each house. In Maraka, we are working together to make this a reality — to improve life for not only this mother, but the entire community.

It was truly a golden moment.

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