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Sponsored girl in Sierra Leone smiles as she stands against a yellow wall
08 September 2020

A world of firsts: clean water is just the start

Life changed forever when water flowed through Isata's village in Sierra Leone

First, imagine that you can change a child's life, for good.

For 14-year-old Isata, life changed forever when clean water flowed in her Sierra Leone village for the first time.

Her mother, Aminata, was doing all she could to make ends meet so that her daughter could go to school, but the school fees were beyond her financial means.

“I collected palm kernels under the palm trees and used them to produce and sell oil,” Aminata says. “We lived from one day to the next. That made me very sad.”

Aminata borrowed money to pay for Isata’s schooling. “In her old uniform and tired of daily chores like fetching water and not getting enough sleep because of hunger, Isata was in school but couldn’t concentrate well.”

Girl in Sierra Leone holds out her hands to catch clean water from a tap, drinking it

First fresh drink

Isata spent three hours every day fetching water at the river for her family. This was the same place where people brought their cattle to drink and where they bathed, washed their clothes, and scooped up drinking water.

“I got sick when I drank water and then had to stay in bed for a long time,” Isata recalls. Her family was also plagued by other illnesses, like malaria, but had no resources to afford medical help.

Everything changed for Isata when World Vision partnered with her community through child sponsorship. World Vision helped restore a water point near her home. With clean water finally available nearby, Isata now saves a lot of time and energy each day.

Instead of fetching water, for the first time, she can simply learn and play. The clean water ensures that everyone in the community is healthy and much better off.

Three girls in red dress school uniforms smile as they stand in their classroom in Sierra Leone

First lessons

World Vision child sponsors also helped provide mosquito nets, keeping Isata and everyone in her community safe from malaria. They support Isata’s community with teaching materials, books, pens, and school bags. In addition, the teachers receive on-site training so that a high standard of teaching can be maintained in rural areas.

“Before I became a sponsored child, I couldn’t even write my name,” says Isata. “Now, I can write well. If I could wish for anything, I would build more schools for all the children in Sierra Leone,” she says.

Thanks to the savings groups facilitated by World Vision and the measures to promote income, the family is now financially stable. Isata’s mother learned how to buy and resell palm oil and can now afford food for everyone to eat, pay school fee for her children, and afford medical treatment.

“When I get something to eat, I’m happy,” says Isata. “The best thing is to feel full. My favourite food is peanut soup.”

Two women in Sierra Leone smile as they cook together outside

Giving a world of firsts

Aminata takes great pleasure in her daughter. “Isata enjoys going to school. She is interested in learning. I am very happy about it.”

Both know that their lives would have been different without their sponsor, who they call “godmother.”

“My godmother is my friend,” Isata says. “I get such beautiful letters from her. I like what she writes and the pictures she sends me.” For Aminata, the “godmother” from England is more than a friend. “She is my oldest daughter, and I am very happy that she exists.”

Every 60 seconds, World Vision brings another first: A family gets water. A hungry child is fed. A mother is empowered to earn enough to sustain her family.

What first will you give to a vulnerable child and their community?

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