Strong Women and Safe Water in Rwanda

This is a guest post from Anna Rohwer, Water4’s Director of Strategic Partnerships. Anna joined the Water4 team earlier this year to help develop partnerships with large institutions, governments, and other NGO’s whose mission and goals align with Water4.

I recently had the chance to visit Rwanda, a country in East Africa where Water4 has partnered with a social enterprise providing access to safe water in communities where alternative water sources are open taps, streams and ponds–none of which provide safe, clean water. This was the first country I visited on behalf of Water4, and it impacted me in a significant way to be able to see the work being done and interact with the amazing people who are making it happen, as well as those who are benefiting.

As a woman who’s passionate about seeing other women given opportunities to thrive, provide for their families and contribute to society, I was especially excited to to see the ways Water4 and our partners are empowering women through access to safe water and employment. There are two women, in particular, whose stories I want to share:

Meet Claudette.

Claudette is a NUMA station attendant in Nyarufunzo Village outside of Kigali where she’s worked for over two years. The job has not only changed how her community sees her, but also how she sees herself. Claudette used to work basic and menial jobs like fetching water for people and selling things on the street, but her new job as a NUMA attendant has given her financial security and improved her status in the community.

Many people in her community now come to her to for translation services, and she has even been asked to represent the women in her village on a village council. Now that she has a stable income, she’s able to save for future goals, which include going to university to study economics. When she graduated high school, she didn’t have the money to pay for college fees, but now she is working towards that goal!

And this is Jeannette, a NUMA safe water customer and mother of two from Rwintare Community outside of Kigali.

When I met her, Jeanette told me how the NUMA system installed in her community has been especially beneficial for the women. They used to walk 35 minutes to collect unsafe water from an unprotected well costing them three times as much as they pay for NUMA water. Now, it takes them just 5 minutes to reach a NUMA station. She uses this water for everything: drinking, cooking, bathing, cleaning and more. Because she has safe water to drink, no one in her family goes to the hospital because of water-related illnesses anymore. She even gives NUMA water to her newborn baby.

It was so inspiring for me to interact with both of these women and hear their personal stories about how Water4 and our partners have impacted them in significant and tangible ways! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that our partner enterprise in Rwanda, Water Access Rwanda, is run by a woman named Christelle.

If I could use three words to describe Christelle, they would be passionate, innovative and spunky. She’s passionate about the work she does and the way it impacts people in need. She’s innovative in her approach to solving problems, always looking for creative ways to make things work. She’s got a big personality and is not afraid of anyone or anything. And I think that’s great! Her examples inspires the women around her to chase after their dreams of having meaningful and successful work.

I’m incredibly thankful I have the opportunity to be part of all of this and hope these stories give you a small taste of the ways in which your support is having a huge impact on the lives of women in Rwanda!