She told us that clean water made her feel beautiful then. Her story is even more beautiful today.
It’s an unforgettable story — and one we often share — because Helen Apio talked about clean water in a way we’d never heard before.
When we first met Helen in 2009, her community had just received a hand pump in the middle of their village.
For decades, Helen had spent most of her days walking and waiting to collect water. It was such a time-consuming process that she could only manage to bring home two Jerry Cans per day.
Let that sink in for a second. The average American family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. Helen’s family was divvying up 10 gallons.
She told us that each day she’d ask herself, “How should I use this water today? Should I water my garden so we can grow food? Should I wash my children’s uniforms? Should I use it to cook a meal? Should we drink this water?”
With two children, one husband and only 10 gallons of water, Helen had to make choices. And she always put herself last.
But all of that changed when her community got clean water.
“I am happy now,” Helen beamed. “I have time to eat, my children can go to school. And I can even work in my garden, take a shower and then come back for more water if I want! I am bathing so well.”
“Now, I am beautiful,” Helen said.
That’s the part that blew us away.
We commonly hear people talk about improved health, time saved, education opportunities, dignity, pride, joy…
But no one had ever said beauty.