Meet Your Neighbors: Dativ, a mother’s triumph

Photography by Doug Klembara. Words by Kelsi Klembara

The donation deadline for the 10 Days is December 4. Your contribution will help our neighbors in Ruhango, like Dativ, get access to clean, safe drinking water. This is her story.

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Dativ has just returned from her morning work in the rice fields. Her hands and feet chalked over from the muddy waters of the field, she climbs the hill to her home with her youngest son, Samuel, wrapped tightly on her back.

Dativ lifts her youngest, Samuel, onto her back in her home garden.

Smiling from ear to ear, she begins preparations for lunch.

Dativ is a tall, strong woman towering over most of her friends. Her strength could be intimidating, but instead, her bubbly personality is contagious.

Dativ stands in the doorway to her home.

She doesn’t hide her family’s struggles, but she doesn’t dwell on them either. She is the type of mom who can clean, cook, and organize her household while simultaneously laughing and loving on her five children. Dativ is the type of mom who doesn’t let circumstance change how she loves and takes care of those most important to her.

Before Living Water built a well in Dativ’s village, Nyamugari, it was much more difficult for this mother and wife to carry out her responsibilities. Although a stream with dirty water was only a five-minute walk from her home, the closest clean water took 35 minutes to walk to and from every single day. This source was often crowded and overused, causing Dativ to rely on boiling the dirty water near their home.

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“At times we failed to have firewood to boil the water and would have to just drink the dirty water,” Dativ told us.

The struggle for clean water took a toll on Dativ and her family.

“When we drink dirty water, we would get congested. Even our kids – they would drink it and get a cough,” she says.

Dativ's second eldest son, Eric, looks at the camera.

Ufitibyiringiro Patrick sits in his family's living room after school.

Battling frequent sicknesses and medical bills while balancing work and family responsibilities left Dativ with time for little else. She tells us her home was always messy, and she didn’t have many vegetables growing in her home garden.

When Living Water came to drill a well almost directly next to Dativ’s home, Dativ had her answer.

“Now if I need water, I just go. We no longer get tired from having to walk far. It’s easy if we need a large volume of water, we just go get it.”

Living Water’s hygiene and sanitation training also made a difference in Dativ’s daily life. The training taught her how to use clean water to keep her home clean and her family healthy.

Handwashing has become an important part of Dativ's families daily life.

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“I learned the importance of drying dishes in order to kill germs and washing my hands after using the bathroom to protect my baby from sickness,” she says.

Dativ also learned the importance of making healthy, balanced meals for her family. She was so convinced of the need for her family to eat more greens that she planted another garden after the training to grow fresh herbs like parsley and lemongrass.

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Now with each meal, she strives to include something green, something white and something red to fill her family’s plates – a tool she learned through Living Water staff to help make sure her family is getting a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats.

Dativ brings out a simple lunch of sweet potatoes for her family.

Empowered with easy access to clean water, Dativ has witnessed a change in her family. The kids don’t get sick as much, and she told us her body feels better. Without money for health insurance, Dativ has more peace knowing her kids’ medical bills are no longer adding up so quickly.

Dativ in her home garden

Dativ’s house is now well taken care of. There is no clutter in her sitting room, and as her kids return from school and sit down for lunch, they use clean water to wash their hands. These are the small reminders of clean water at work – a transformed family, a clean room, and a healthy meal.

“Clean water helps you in everything.”

From L-R, Patricia, Eric, U. Patrick, Dativ, Samuel and H. Patrick. Dativ's husband, Patrick, was at work.

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