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That beautiful chorus you can hear at the end of Claudia's incredible rendition of Sunshine on a Rainy Day? Those are the voices of Girls Leading Our World – a tight-knit group of young women who work with teacher Alice to spread the word about safer periods and women’s rights in their school in Lubunda, Zambia.

On the day WaterAid arrives to film the group singing, the girls are decked out in glitter gleaned from Jessy’s mother’s make-up box. They're not usually allowed to wear make-up in school, so they’re enjoying applying it to each other's faces while they sit around and talk about their futures. The eldest girls are in their final years of school, and are thinking about their next steps in life.

Ready for the future

When asked what the future holds for her, Jessy says with conviction that she will become a nurse – like her father. Her dad works in Lubunda Clinic (just a few minutes away from the school) where he’s responsible, among other things, for helping women give birth. There's now an improved supply of clean water available in the hospital, which makes his job easier – though he still faces many challenges in what is a disadvantaged community. 

Precious, Jessy and Claudia on-set of the Sunshine on a Rainy Day film shoot outside their school in Lubunda.

Gracious hopes that she’ll become a pilot. She’d like to jet people to the UK, the USA and South Africa – and even though she’s never travelled by plane before, she’s confident this won’t stand in the way of her career in aviation. Precious, the most shy of the three girls, catches the others by surprise when she says affirmatively “I want to be a solider.”

She explains why: “I love training – for soccer and running. And kung fu!”

“She likes Jackie Chan,” Jessy grins, as Gracious flashes a karate pose. Do the girls think Precious is stronger than the boys?

“Of course.”

The walk

The girls lead WaterAid through barren fields to where the old water source is situated. Before piped water was installed in Lubunda, the girls had to make this 15-minute walk in sweltering heat every day. At the end of this taxing journey, they arrive at a squalid stone pit, the little water in it covered with scum and dead insects.

The walk to this dirty well was a concern for Lubunda's parents. Mother-of-five Leah N’gandwe says “The well is in the bush, [which is] so thick that it was scary to go there alone as a young girl.”

She thinks that the generation of children who can grow up without walks like these have a better future ahead of them. “I could have been educated if we had water so close to our home. Now my children will have no excuse to fail school!” 

On the return journey from the well, the girls say they're happy their young siblings won't have to make arduous walks like these for water. But today, Jessy, Gracious and Precious are grateful for the water supply for a different reason: they can wash the glitter off their faces before their teachers find out.

Read more stories of the amazing change safe water has had in Lubunda >