Ernest’s story
Madagascar

Ernest grew up in a small village, 6 kilometres outside of Antananarivo, with his mother and six brothers and sisters. Ernest would collect water for his family from an unsafe source every morning before school. There were a few pit latrines in his village, but not enough for everyone and they were often dirty. Ernest and his siblings would often get diarrhoea but the medicine was too expensive to buy.

Ernest’s school didn’t have latrines so everyone, both pupils and teachers, had to defecate in the bamboo behind the school buildings. With no water at school, Ernest and his classmates would go five or six hours without drinking anything. At home, sometimes they boiled water sometimes but not always.

"There was always someone who was missing school every day because of bellyache, diarrhoea. But at this time I was thinking that it was normal that you often get sick when you were kids."

Ernest was lucky enough to continue his education and attend university. He became a community animator and volunteer for the UN, promoting water, sanitation and hygiene in Madagascar communities before joining WaterAid. Now, Ernest is a Communications Support Officer and he spends his time documenting life before and after water and sanitation in communities across Madagascar.

“One of the best parts of this job is that I can see the change that we have made to communities and capturing the happiness of kids and communities who have safe water and have a good sanitation."

Right now Ernest is helping children in Tsimahavaobe school to get taps and toilets. You can see his progress on our UK site >