For 5-year-old Juliet and her family in northern Uganda, the number-one concern is dirty water and poor sanitation. Every day, these humanitarian crises deprive 1,600 children of life before they reach their fifth birthday. You can share your own birthday to help raise funds to provide clean water for children in need. Just $50 provides someone clean water for life!
If ever a story needed a happy ending, it would be that of 5-year-old Juliet. Hers is indeed a tale of woe.
The biggest problem for Juliet and her family: They have no access to clean water or sanitation.
“We don’t have a toilet,” says her mother, Evelyn Adokorac, 24. “Right now we go in the bush.”
The children also fetch water from a nearby stream. Both Juliet and her brother, Laston, 3, have distended bellies — a sign of worms that come from poor hygiene and from drinking dirty water. It is impossible in this place to have good hygiene.
A lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation is both a symptom of and cause for unrelenting poverty. Children who are forced to gather unclean water from distant sources spend precious time away from school, and when they fall ill from consuming that water, they can’t go to class, either. Meanwhile, economic productivity and financial security suffer among adults because of the absence of these foundational resources.
Juliet’s family story bears this out. It’s education that this 5-year-old girl most yearns for. She watches her friends travel down the path toward school in the mornings. “When her friends go to school,” says her mother, “Juliet says she wants to join them. She says, ‘I want to get my clothes and go to school.’”
Clothes are also a problem. Juliet only has two dresses. She owns just one pair of shoes — if you consider flip flops shoes. In December 2013 the family home burned to the ground. Now they live in a grass-thatched hut next to the charred ruins of their home. They were able to salvage one mattress. Everything else was lost.
Laston has orange hair, a sign of malnutrition. He clings to his mother, tired and weepy. “We eat beans,” says Evelyn. “Sometimes just once a day. Sometimes we can buy milk.” But that’s mostly just once a week.
Evelyn’s husband, Bonny Okello, 28, is a cassava farmer. “He works hard,” says Evelyn. “Most of the time he is in the garden.” But what he grows is not enough for the family to eat properly or have their basic needs met.
When Evelyn is sick, Juliet cares for her. At only 5, she can already sweep the house and do some cooking. “When I am sick she cares for me,” says Evelyn. “I am always falling sick. I think from malaria.”
For as mature and responsible as Juliet is for her age, she has already crossed a different milestone simply by reaching her fifth birthday. More than 1,600 children under that age die every day from diarrhea caused by unsafe water — more than AIDS and malaria combined.
And her little brother, Laston, is only 3. Without access to clean water or sanitation, his life is at risk.
What remains to be seen is whether Laston will reach his fifth birthday like his older sister — and whether they’ll both ever receive the chance to go to school and not worry about water.
Evelyn would love to see such an outcome. She wants the best for Juliet and Laston. She is praying for better than this life full of woe.
“My prayer is for my children,” she says, “that they will remain healthy. I pray for their future to be bright.”
Because dirty water and poor sanitation are among the top killers of young children across the globe, World Vision is committed to bringing sustainable clean water solutions to communities that lack this basic resource. In fact, World Vision is one of the largest providers of clean water in the developing world, reaching a new person with clean water every 30 seconds.
You can help us with this goal. Do you have a birthday coming up? Consider sharing that birthday to raise funds for our clean water projects around the world.
Just $50 provides someone with clean water for life!
Set up a fundraising page here. Then, invite friends and family to use the money they’d ordinarily spend on your birthday gift to make a donation to provide clean water and sanitation for children like Juliet and her brother, Laston. It’s an ideal way to celebrate your birthday — and help ensure that vulnerable children get to celebrate theirs, too.