Guest blogger Karina Morawska, Chair of the Board of Trustees for The One Foundation, arrived back in the UK on Sunday after visiting our water projects in Rwanda. Here’s Karina’s write up about the experience.
Helping give the people of Rwanda access to clean water is food for the soul. I feel honoured to be a small part of a big-hearted team working hard to make a difference.
Rwanda is a stunning country framed by verdant, rolling hills as far as the eye can see. Natural beauty is abundant, but that same landscape means fetching water requires tireless energy and the agility not unlike that of a nimble mountain goat! I know, I tried picking my way across one such hillside! Instead of going to school, beautiful children such as these spend their days walking long distances, up and down steep hills, carrying water from often contaminated sources.
The One team is working hard to change that. Easy access to clean water allows the children to attend school rather than spend hours fetching water, it helps the vulnerable, reduces disease and improves sanitation. In short it gives dignity and enhances every person’s quality of life. The One team is determined to deliver these improvements in a sustainable manner. Quality infrastructure and long-term solutions involving the local community will ensure Rwanda will be able to maintain its own water supply in the future without the need for ongoing international aid. Working alongside knowledgeable local partners, the goal is to provide access to clean water for “everyone forever”.
There is a lot of need here in Rwanda but also a lot of good. Every last Saturday of the month is Umuganda – each community and village meets to repair and clean neighbours’ homes, buildings, schools, community areas and parks. Kigali came to a standstill as people came out in droves to work together. Umuganda literally means “helping each other”. What a wonderful custom! It is almost surreal to see how strongly the country has come together following the horror and heartbreak of the genocide. I cannot begin to know how deep the forgiveness runs, but it is a testament to the Rwandans that so many chose to respond with love and to rebuild together. I am in awe.
And I am equally inspired by One – working tirelessly to take every penny of profit from their bottled One Water to give life. The challenges are not insignificant, but the rewards plentiful. Simply put, it changes lives. A long, emotional but inspirational journey all rolled into one.
Here we are happy to be sitting on new pipes that will soon be supplying clean water to the citizens of Kicukiro!