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Iye's story

Raising a family in a remote village in Sierra Leone, Iye has seen first-hand the devastating impact a lack of access to clean water and safe toilets can have on a community.

2 Oct 2014

"I came here to marry," Iye tells us, when we meet her in the village of Nyeama in Sierra Leone, a hard-to-reach community accessible only by log bridges and narrow paths.

"I live here with my husband and eight children; five girls and three boys. The youngest, Mamuse, is eight."

The community's only water source

Today, Iye and her family are healthy. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we were able to install clean water and safe toilets in their community. But life hasn't always been so easy.

Iye knows from painful experience the impact dirty water and a lack of sanitation can have on people's lives. She used to collect water from the Wanjal River, previously the community's only water source, and used it for drinking, for washing, for cooking – for all her family's needs.

Iye collects dirty water from the river.
Iye collecting dirty water from the Wanjai River.
Photo: WaterAid/Anna Kari

"The Wanjai River is not safe for drinking," Iye explains. "But we continued to drink it because there was no other source of getting water. It made the town filthy. People complained of having stomach upsets, high fever and dysentery.

"People were dying. My granddaughter, who was named after me, died at the health centre. It was cholera. They put her under observation but at the end of the day she passed away. She was two years old."

Investing in a brighter future

Today, Iye is part of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene committee, and dedicates part of her time to looking after the village's new water pump.

The community also use some of the profits from their cassava farm to pay for spare parts and maintenance for the pump – to make sure they never have to face the impossible decision of whether to drink dirty water again.

Iye sits with her grandaughter.
Iye holds her granddaughter, Jilo, at home in the village of Nyeama.
Photo: WaterAid/Anna Kari

"I know the names of the parts of the pump, how it works, how to take care of it," Iye tells us. "I know that by bringing safe drinking water to the community, we bring health.

"Children don't fall sick like they used to. Our husbands are so strong they do our farming work on time, because they are healthy.

"Having good, safe drinking water means I don't get ill either. I have more energy to work for my family. I am getting good drinking water, my family too, and now we are all healthy."

Help us make change happen for people like Iye. Sign our Make it Happen petition here >