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Actress Samantha Barks discovers what it means to be a girl in Madagascar

Les Miserables actress Samantha Barks visited WaterAid’s work in Madagascar this summer, as part of our To be a girl campaign.

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7 Jul 2014 | UK

When Les Mis actress Samantha Barks visited WaterAid's work in Madagascar this summer, she saw first-hand how clean water and toilets can transform girls' lives.

Her first trip took her to a rural village with no running water or toilets. Here she met Solo, one of the girls featured in our To be a girl campaign, and saw the devastating impact of life without these basics.

"Solo and her friends had no choice but to drop out of school because they had to spend so much time fetching water for their families – water from a muddy pool that regularly made them sick," says Samantha. 

"They felt embarrassed and ashamed because they had no toilet to use, so they had to go outside."


Samantha Barks visits Solo and Ze in Madagascar
Samantha Barks visits Solo and Ze in Madagascar.
Credit: WaterAid/Abbie Trayler-Smith

Samantha then went on to visit a very different community, one with a waterpoint and latrines, which are enabling girls to stay in education and fulfil their potential.

Watch the video from Samantha’s visit here:


To be a girl

Nearly 11 million people in Madagascar lack access to clean water, while 18 million don’t have the use of a safe, private toilet. Every year, over 4,000 children die from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation in this country alone.

The £1 million we hope to raise through our To be a girl campaign will bring safe water and sanitation to over 130,000 girls around the world – with the UK Government matching every donation, pound for pound, made by the UK public.

Find out more about what it means to be a girl around the world >