Life before accessible water
When I went there recently, the community told me: “For us, this has been a major breakthrough, because when we didn’t have water, we were chasing water points everywhere and then in the process we could not have a permanent home.”
In fact, some of the stories I hear are so dramatic, in a sense of how much these people‘s lives had changed.
"An old man was telling me that there were times when water was just not available to the extent that they didn’t even have a bath for months, and the easiest thing they could do was follow the animals, carry empty buckets and catch their urine to use it for washing their bodies. It was as bad as that. They would say, “If you do anything else, it’s not as critical for us, but water has made a huge difference in our lives”."
World Vision Australia is currently supporting a community learning centre in this area, now that the community are aware of how important education is, they want to learn.
During the day, it’s the young students that go to learn, but in the afternoon, it’s the adults who now go to learn computer skills. They read current information and use these resources and skills to learn about health and other various issues. They’ve learned so much. Just because water is now available, World Vision are able to do start new projects that otherwise could not have been possible.
Not just empty buildings
If a community has started focusing on infrastructure then you may see the infrastructure sprouting; but the immediate impact will not be there for another five years or so.
If we build schools, you may not see the impact until the community members themselves become fully aware of the need to send their children to school, so that they are not just empty buildings.
I have been in this work for 30 years now. Infrastructure development programs are very easy to do, but it’s the attitudinal change that actually requires a lot of time. And people need time to compare and see that it actually works before they can embrace any change. Changing the attitudes of people is not a one day activity; it does require time, which is why we need 15 years to see change. The more they see the evidence that it is working, the faster they grasp that change.