Meet 16-year-old Mbete. She is in Class 7 at a primary school in Ngomenia. Ngomenia is a water scarce and climatically tough environment to live in. Apart from subsistence farming, Mbete’s family has no other means of earning a living 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 dangerous path to school.
Being an adolescent girl in this area — especially from a poor family — is hard. Because there are not separate sanitation facilities at school for boys and girls, there is no privacy for girls to tend to their needs or deal with soiled clothes when menstruating. The resulting embarrassment and anxiety causes girls to give up on school. 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. The girls have had many embarrassing incidents in front of their male classmates during this time and the boys tease them. This results in the girls skipping school, and therefore negatively affecting their education performance.
Water.org and its local partner ADRA recently worked with Mbete’s school and community to get toilets and safe water. 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 privacy, safety, and confidence that come with a toilet. She can instead focus on her education and opportunities for a better life.