The children of Chepoyotwo village have never seen a paved road, a light switch, or a water fountain. Their lives are as harsh as their isolated environment — the dry Kesot River basin in northwest Kenya.
Their walk for water
From the nearest asphalt road, only a skilled driver in a four-wheel-drive vehicle can navigate the grueling, lurching, three-hour crawl over pitted dirt tracks to reach their huts. On arrival, chattering children swarm the vehicle and ask if it’s a “grown-up motorcycle.”
Visitors are a rare distraction to children who spend hours a day, and most of their energy, walking more than 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) to find and carry water for their families and livestock. They are among the 319 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who lack access to improved sources of water. Women and children average a 6K walk each day to bring home dirty water. They have no other choice.
But like children everywhere, these kids smile and look for fun in their daily routine. And their parents, like parents everywhere, simply want a better life for their children.
But first, they need water. So the children walk from home to the watering hole to collect water to use at school each day. After school, they walk back to the watering hole to collect water to take home.
If the parents have their way and easily accessible clean water comes to Chepoyotwo, these boys and girls will take a new path that leads beyond the waterhole to opportunities in higher education and careers.
When you walk for clean water, they win
Walk the Global 6K for Water, and you’ll help bring clean, safe water to kids like these.
Meet Cheru and the children of the 6K in this portrait gallery by World Vision photographer Jon Warren. Each child holds a water jug they’ve chosen — the bigger the child, the bigger the jug. Their faces reflect optimism and strength beyond their circumstances.
Cheru, 5, grabs her mom’s tea kettle to fetch water. A first-year kindergartener, she’s excited to join the big kids in school. Cheru’s often sick, says her mother, Monica. She’s worried her daughter won’t be able to keep up with the other kids and will fall behind in school.
Dina is excited to share her love of school with Cheru. “I will take her every day,” she says. After school, Dina gathers firewood and helps her mother wash dishes.
Cheru’s brother, William, keeps an eye out for his sisters as the children walk the dry riverbed to the waterhole. There they’ll wait in line to take their turn digging for water and shoo away goats, cows, and camels.
Here’s how Catheryn carries her jug. It’s slippery and round, so it’s hard to hold. A clever mom made straps for it by unraveling threads from a feed bag and weaving them into rope.
Pius shoulders a big jerry can, one he might not be able to lift if it were full. For the walk to school, he may only fill it part way and pass it off to a friend after awhile.
Petro runs quickly to find a jug and a scrap of plastic bag to seal the lid. He knows not to spill a drop; every little bit counts when you walk so far for water.
Christina has a water jug that’s just the right size to take to school. When they get past lower grades, girls in schools that lack water and toilets often drop out. They may be embarrassed and find it difficult to manage menstruation.
There’s no bathing at home because water is scarce. Mussa’s dirty elbows and scalp will just have to do. If there’s time after he digs for water, he can splash a little bit.
Sweet-faced Malome carries her share of the water needed at school and home. Without a reliable source of clean, safe water close to home, her family will continue to face poverty and illness.
How much does that jerry can weigh, Samuel? Filled with water — scooped from a waterhole cup by cup — it weighs more than 20 pounds. Mom needs twice that much daily for cooking, drinking, and washing dishes.
Enoch would rather have his bow and arrow in hand and be out with boys looking for birds to shoot. He’d pretend to track a hyena or fox to protect the goats and cows like dad. Instead he carries water for mom.
It’s all a game to little Dakta. While he’s not old enough to go to school, he’ll learn soon enough that the most important and time-consuming thing to do each day is carrying water.
“Wait for me,” he says. One more little guy grabs a jerry can and rushes to keep up with the big kids on their daily 6K walk for water.
With instruction from World Vision’s Abu (Abraham) Lokilimak, William dodges camels and goats while pretending to drive a Land Rover.