Elma

Elma’s courage gave her the strength to choose smiles over tears, to choose love over pain, and to champion safe water for her family, even when the battle seemed impossible.

Elma is courageous. You see, Elma and her husband are poor, and have never been able to break free from the cycle of poverty. Despite their circumstance, Elma chose to do her best at making a home for her family in a dirt-floor hut in rural Philippines. Made of bamboo and tarps, the dwelling never lacked love but did lack safe water and a toilet. Elma was unsure how she and her husband could ever afford these things for their home, but she knew having a tap and a bathroom would make life better for their children.

A thirty minute trek from their village, Elma’s children walk to school every day. But before this they used to make another trek, one to collect water. Elma loves her children so much that for many years she tried to do this back-breaking chore alone. But, to carry enough water for all seven family members eventually she needed the kids’ help. Elma held back her tears and chose to smile as she shared, “My kids, they never complained about getting up so early to go with me to get water.” Yet regardless of whether or not they verbally complained, Elma knew it was not the life they wanted, nor the one she wanted for them.

“My husband drives a moto-taxi and I sell fish. We can only give our children very little, but we wanted to make sure they have water and a toilet. My girls aren’t safe going in the fields and my kids should not wake so early to carry water.” Thus Elma’s courageous fight to break her family free from the cycle of poverty and their long walks for water began.

Through our work in the Philippines, Water.org had already begun to pave the way to Elma’s victory by making small, affordable loans possible for families to construct household water connections and toilets. A brave Elma was able to secure the funds to give her family what they needed most.

Now the long morning walks to collect water have ended. And the unsafe nightly visits to the field are over. This time, an empowered Elma let herself cry tears of joy as she shared, “With God’s grace, I have already repaid my toilet loan, and very soon, we will pay off our water connection loan as well.”

This World Water Day, give to Water.org and help pave the way for more women like Elma to champion safe water for their families and change their world.

Capital: Manila
Population of 101.8 million
8 million lack access to safe water
26.5 million lack access to improved sanitation
42% of the total population lives on less than US$2 per day
Philippines