Your Funds at Work: Clean Water


Ten days, that’s all it took for my life to be completely transformed. Ten days in the most beautiful countryside, with the most welcoming people, seeing and doing the most unbelievable things. I can’t believe it’s already been over four months since we’ve returned from the Study Tour in Burundi. But even though the rest of the students and I are back home now, our journey is not over. Now we have been blessed with the privilege of sharing the incredible stories we’ve taken from Burundi.

The time we spent in Burundi went by so fast, as we were constantly busy visiting new sites and meeting new people. However, I’m still amazed by how vividly I remember the smallest details about that trip. I could never forget the bumpy car rides on the dirt roads, the taste of Burundian Coca-Cola, the attempts we made to learn their language, the mountains or the smell of fish in the market. Most importantly, the smiles, laughter, and tears of the children in Burundi are impossible to get off my mind.

The children we met in Burundi were remarkable- despite the many hardships they face every day, they remain positive and strong. It was clear that funds from World Vision and the 30 Hour Famine were transforming the small communities in Gasorwe that we visited. We were thanked by countless individuals for the efforts being made by students that participate in the 30 Hour Famine.

On our fourth day, we journeyed to the Springs of Life WASH Project in Gasorwe. World Vision has been making incredible progress in a mission to provide clean, safe water to the community there. At the time of our visit, nine water points had been constructed and four more had been rehabilitated. Each is able to provide water for about 65 families. Community members have also been trained for maintenance of the site. After being educated about hygiene practices and water supply management, families are now more informed on the risks of unsafe water.

When we arrived at the WASH Project, I had no idea what to expect. After a downhill hike, we found ourselves paired up with a member of the community, waiting in an orderly line to fill their water jug. Personally, I was paired up with a boy who couldn’t have been much older than 6. His simple yellow jug was closed with a leaf tied on by a rope. The team trekked for about three miles up what seemed to be an endless hill. Walking hand in hand with that boy was incredible, I have never been so physically exhausted but so spiritually exhilarated.

While I was absolutely worn out and feeling like I could barely walk any farther, he persevered, smiling the entire way. Although he was young, we saw children even younger, who walk miles every day to get water. At home I simply walk a few feet and turn on the faucet. In Burundi it can take hours for someone to get a couple of gallons of water for the entire family to share. Firsthand, we were able to experience how exhausting and time-consuming this can be. And, for me, that’s what the 30 Hour Famine is all about. It all comes down to stepping into someone else’s place and being completely shaken, whether you’re going without food or hiking for water in the middle of Africa.

Emma Neri was one of nine rad students to travel to Burundi on the 2011 Study Tour. Emma’s currently a sophomore in high school in the grand state of Pennsylvania. She enjoys owning at field hockey and soccer, inspiring others and being downright awesome.  Someday Emma hopes to travel the world and work to end hunger and poverty.