In June I visited Kass IDP camp in the South Darfur region. As I made my way into the camp through the narrow pathways, the scenes of the sprawling IDP settlements gripped me.
I eventually arrived to my destination, where World Vision has installed a clean water supply system with funding from the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was pure fanfare around the water point! The sight of children en masse looking very animated and having the time of their life!
It was around one o’clock. The heat was unbearable, in every sense of the word unbearable! Mothers, who had also come to draw water offered to tell me that the children would normally come in droves-around that time- to quench their thirst, wash their faces and cool themselves off. Thereafter, the children would continue playing around the water point as their mothers drew water and attended to other chores of the day. In essence, the clean water point has become their point of convergence.
It reminded me of a herd of elephants I once watched cooling themselves off at a waterhole in the Tsavo National Park (one of Kenya’s largest national park) -it was quite a spectacle! A heartwarming display!
It was very exciting observing the children in their element. This is exactly what children need, just to be in their element and have some fun! It’s a huge part of their growing up! No matter what they are going through in life. (I thought to myself). They giggled among themselves, each one taking their turn to either wash their faces, their heads, hands, quench their thirst et cetera. It was pure amusement, not just for them but I felt thoroughly entertained.
Sadly, I was informed it was time to leave. It was the hardest and the saddest thing to say goodbye, but I had to, never to look behind lest I became an emotional wreck! What I took away that day is that there’s always something to be happy about-take it from the children.
I am not naïve to the fact that the needs of those children are still great. That notwithstanding a part of me affords a smile because I know for sure, that for as long as the clean water point exists, the children of Kass IDP camp will always congregate at a particular time for the usual fanfare!
Also, their parents or caretakers will not bear the burden of not only water related illnesses but also sanitation and hygiene. This is because on the very same day community champions were being equipped on good hygiene and sanitation best practices.
I will never forget this special encounter at that water point. One of the field experiences I cherish the most and that makes me smile whenever I reminisce.
During this year’s World Water Week, being held in Stockholm-Sweden “Water for Sustainable Growth” will be discussed – i.e. Financing, 2030 Agenda, Integrity, Gender issues, Climate Change, Energy, Sanitation, Food, Conflict Resolution, Water Management.
I am constantly thinking of those children and wonder what all these discussions could mean for them and their future. Will the water point become more than just fanfare for them-and perhaps enable their families to grow crops and put food on the table? Or clothe them and enable them get an education in the long haul? Just some of the thoughts I grapple with.
World Water Week is running from Sunday August 28th to Friday, September 2nd.
About World Vision WASH projects in South Darfur
- World Vision's water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects in South Darfur programme, which is our largest programme, directly target 315,507 people currently, a majority of them are children.