"With my job, water's crucial," says John Chapman, one half of the popular fitness duo the Lean Machines.

This September, he visited our work in Zambia, alongside fellow Lean Machine Leon Bustin and health and fitness blogger Carly Rowena.

Together, the YouTube stars met a community struggling to survive without access to safe, clean water – and saw first-hand how taps and toilets can give every generation the chance of a better future.

A heartbreaking struggle

Today, over half of Zambia's population live in poverty. Five million people don't have access to safe water, and over nine million don't have a decent place to go to the toilet.

Chinyaka is just one of the communities we're hoping to reach with these vital services. It's where John, Leon and Carly met Loveness, one of the village's 291 residents who depend on a shallow, hand-dug well for all their water – for washing, drinking and cooking. 

Bees and flies swarm around the opening, and the water itself is cloudy.

"It was heartbreaking to see the daily struggle for contaminated water in Chinyaka," says Leon. "To see women trekking for hours to what was nothing more than a hole, infested with flies and insects, only to collect dirty water which is potentially life threatening, was devastating."

Seeing the benefits of a new borehole

Meeting Merina in Habanji village.
The Lean Machines and Carly Rowena with Merina.

In Habanji village 61-year-old Merina, like Loveness, used to wake up early to collect unsafe water. But today, thanks to a brand new hand pump our partners helped to build close by, she no longer has to make that journey and risk her health – or that of her family.

"There's a very big difference," Merina tells us. "Before the water was dirty, now it's clean. The thing that makes me most happy is having this borehole in the village."

"Seeing the difference clean water makes, especially to Merina and the kids, made me feel overwhelmed. I was smiling so much that my lips cracked and my jaw hurt!" says John.

"The community’s quality of life has improved so much simply because they don't have to travel miles to collect water. This gives people the time to get an education, to build better houses and to create a stronger, happier community."

When Carly met Caroline

Carly and Caroline outside the new school toilets.
Carly and Caroline outside the new school toilets.

In Monze district, the chance to continue in education is especially significant for girls, who often have to drop out of school when they get their period because of the lack of even basic facilities.

"The new toilets mean a lot to us," Caroline, 15, told Carly, as she gave a tour around her school. "If you have your period, you can drop your pad and get a new one. They've helped us a lot. I'm very happy."

"Caroline showed me the school’s previous toilets, which I can only compare to peeing down a dark alleyway; smelly and infested with insects, with nowhere to wash or clean your hands," says Carly.

"It broke my heart to think of any young girl having to have her period in the previous conditions. These facilities really have transformed Caroline’s experience of going to school. WaterAid have made such a big difference."

Help us get safe, clean water and toilets to more communities living without them.

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