Sissylia Mhaka

Sissylia Mhaka’s feet know the way to the river very well. Even at 5am she can make her way there and back, carrying a 20-litre container of water on her head. The journey takes almost three hours and sometimes she does it twice a day.

She is not alone – most households in the region have to travel for between two and six hours to reach a safe water point. The community is prone to outbreaks of cholera, malaria and diarrhoeal diseases.

The Zimbabwe Red Cross, with support from the British Red Cross, is working with Sissylia’s community to find out what would make the biggest difference to their daily lives.

For Sissylia, hours spent trekking to and from the river or recovering from water-borne sickness could be spent fulfilling her ambitions. She says: “My dream is to study and become a role model for the community – I want to learn and to teach.”

Clean water outside the front door

When Sissylia’s husband lost his job in Zimbabwe’s capital city, she had no idea that she would be forced to move back to her home village. Her husband now sends 40 dollars every six months from South Africa – leaving Sissylia with barely enough to survive.

The Red Cross programme, which is installing 50 new water-points in Chivi district, will provide Sissylia with safe water outside her front door.

Local community members are also being trained as pump technicians to make sure that the pumps last and continue to provide water for the community.

A global issue

In wealthier parts of the world, a simple toilet flush can use ten times more than our required daily amount of drinking water. Yet globally, nearly 800 million people have no access to clean water.

Sissylia’s village is one of many areas worldwide where the Red Cross is working to improve access to clean water.

With clean water only a stone’s throw away, Sissylia hopes that she will soon have the good health and time to fulfil her dream of teaching. She says: “I want to bring hope to my family and change the future for them and for my community.”

Read more about the Red Cross water and sanitation programme in Zimbabwe.