Six-year-old Nzilani is having a hard morning
She’s making the hour-long walk back from school far too early because she didn’t have money for exam fees. “When I am sent home for lack of school fees, I feel so sad,” she says.
Nzilani’s tattered school uniform has holes despite frequent mending. And the broken thongs on her feet are poor protection from the long, sharp thorns common in this area of Kenya.
The way things are, she may never finish school or realise her dream of becoming a teacher. But this hope is practically all she has to keep her going.
Nzilani and her three sisters are orphans with no home to call their own. When their mother died several years ago, a neighbour let them move into a small room. They do chores in exchange for shelter and a small bit of food. “For chores I do washing dishes, cleaning the house and fetching water,” says Nzilani.
Collecting water brings sickness and fear
Because there’s no community well, and no money to buy clean water, Nzilani has to get water from a nearby lake. Nzilani can only fill her bucket half way or it will be too heavy for her to carry. So she makes two trips, twice a day.
The lake water makes her sick. The water is dirty and filled with bacteria that can be fatal for a child like Nzilani. “When we drink water from the lake, we get stomach problems,” she says.
But she’ll be back again in a few hours because there’s nowhere else she can go for water. Dirty water is better than no water at all. So Nzilani and her sisters make do. When they get sick, they simply wait for it to pass.
Dirty water isn’t the only danger here. Nzilani and her neighbours are competing with a deadly rival for this water – herds of wild elephants.
“The elephants that have young ones are so dangerous. And in most cases they attack people. They kill the people and put them aside,” she says. Nzilani has heard stories of other children who have been killed.
Nzilani has to be quiet and still. She carefully watches the biggest elephant because he’s the most dangerous. Patiently, she waits for them to move on. Even when they eventually do, she never takes her eyes off them.
Her daily trip to collect water scares Nzilani, but she has no choice. A safer and cleaner water source, like a community well, would make all the difference.
Even though life is brutally hard, Nzilani still has hope. She hopes for simple things that every child deserves. A chance to go to school. Decent clothes and shoes to wear. Safe and clean water to drink. Medicine when she’s sick. Not to go to bed hungry.
You can help provide these simple, but essential, things by sponsoring a child. You can bring hope to a child like Nzilani and help give them a whole new future.
Sponsor a child and change their world
You can help families and communities thrive so they can keep their children safe. When you sponsor a child, you’ll help them access clean water and go to school. You’ll watch them grow to become strong and full of life, free to believe in their dreams of a better life.
See how child sponsorship works