Meet 16-year-old Mbete. She attends a school in Ngomenia. Ngomenia is a water scarce and climatically tough region to live in. Mbete’s family has no real means of earning a living to provide for themselves, they have a subsistence farm, and they are dependent on the seasonal rains.
Mbete used to walk three miles to school every day for three years until she got tired and came to reside with an auntie who lives close to her school. She is the youngest in a family of seven. Her mother is a widow. Her daily routine begins at 5:30 a.m. She eats, gets ready for school, checks her face in the mirror, and runs down the path to school.
Being an adolescent girl in this area — especially from a poor family — is hard. Because often there are no sanitation facilities at school, thus there is no privacy for girls to tend to their needs or deal with soiled cloths when menstruating. The resulting embarrassment and anxiety causes girls to give up on school. Further, because water is hard to come by, the lack of water to use during her menstrual period is another one of the many challenges Mbete and other girls her age face. They cannot bathe themselves or wash hands. Mbete shared stories of how some of the girls have had embarrassing incidents in front of their male classmates during this time of the month. This resulted in the girls skipping school, and therefore negatively affecting their education.
Water.org and its local partner ADRA recently worked with Mbete’s school and community to construct toilets and safe water taps. Now, with some of her most basic needs met, Mbete will no longer have to feel ashamed or embarrassed at certain times of the month. She now has the privacy, safety, and confidence that come with a toilet. And now, she can focus on her education and opportunities for a better life.