Zimbabwe – Thandolwayo

Images and film shot on assignment for Caritas Australia as part of the Project Compassion 2019 appeal.

An estimated 2.1 billion people worldwide still do not have access to clean fresh drinking water.

For Thandalwayao, a 12 year old girl living in Zimbabwe, this meant having to walk 3.5km twice a day down a steep dangerous hill to collect dirty river water. Carrying a five-litre container, this often left her exhausted and ill, affecting her schooling and her dreams of becoming a nurse.

 “I went to school tired after collecting water and my performance at school was low.” – Thandolwayo

To help overcome this, her community teamed up with Caritas Australia partner Caritas Hwange to build a solar powered water pump to draw water up from the river through filtration stations and into two 10,000 litre storage tanks. A tap was set up near the local primary school providing the whole community with unlimited fresh, clean water which has transformed their lives and futures.

 “Life has really changed as a result of the tap because now I can bathe every day. I now go to school feeling fresh. We now drink clean, safe water and diseases are no longer affecting us.” – Thandalwayao

The images below and the film above were shot for Caritas Australia for their annual Project Compassion fundraising campaign.

The front page image used on the campaign website and fundraising materials.

Thandolwayo and her grandmother Regina sit outside their kitchen.

Thandolwayo lives with her grandmother Regina in Msuna Hills, one of the most marginalised villages in Hwange district, Zimbabwe. The village has a population of 500 people, comprising of 58 households.

Around 72 percent of Zimbabwe’s population is living below the poverty line. Thandolwayo’s community is also plagued by ongoing droughts, food and water scarcity and poor sanitation.

An aerial view of Thandolwayo and Regina her grandmother grinding millet in their homestead.

Her father left several years ago and her mother lives in a town 90 kilometres away where she works as a casual labourer. Her older sister also moved away to attend secondary school. Thandolwayo attends the local school which has just 35 students and two teachers.

“I’m so proud that tap water has been brought to this community during my lifetime,” says Thandolwayo’s grandmother, Regina. “We now have enough time and energy to do other work to make life better. Thandolwayo can eat three meals a day and she can concentrate much better at school. We hope she will excel and get a good job and take care of her family.”

Thandolwayo drinks from the new water pipe in Msuna Hills.

Thandolwayo drinks from the new water pipe in Msuna Hills.

Before the tap was installed, every morning before school, Thandolwayo used to walk 3.5 kilometres with the other women and girls to the Gwayi River and back again. Carrying a five litre container, she would traverse a rocky, mountainous path to collect water for her family and her teacher. Exhausted from hours fetching and carrying water, she’d then start her day at school.

Thandolwayo walks along the banks of the Gweyi river where she used to collect dirty water from before a new water pipe was installed in her village.

Thandolwayo demonstrates how she used to fill up her water container with dirty water.

Thandolwayo shows dirty water from the Gweyi river that she and her community had to drink before a new water pipe was installed in her village.

“I never liked going down to Gwayi River but I had no choice because we had no other source of water.” – Thandolwayo

Thandolwayo walks back up a steep hill back to her village after collecting dirty water from the Gweyi river.

Thandolwayo walks past Baobab trees after collecting dirty water from the Gweyi river.

In 2017, Caritas Australia partnered with Caritas Hwange to help the community to install two solar-powered pumps to draw the water up from the river, as well as two 10,000 litre storage tanks.

Super Dube, Diocesan Co-ordinator Caritas Hwange talks to community members from Msuna Hills during a meeting next to the new water tanks and tap.

Thandolwayo(centre) in seen during lessons at Msuna Primary School. “I went to school tired after collecting water and my performance at school was low.”

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