The story behind our film: The Girl Who Built a Rocket
At WaterAid, we are always looking for new ways to share stories which communicate a very real need for action. We have embarked on a journey to adapt our advertising, and this is a step towards that.
Taking inspiration from real stories, we worked with creative agency Don’t Panic and colleagues in Madagascar to create our animated film, The Girl Who Built A Rocket, with a voice-over by Sir Trevor McDonald.
But nobody’s thirsty on Mars
This February, three missions are going into Mars orbit with two landers reaching the surface of Mars in the second half of the month. Those missions aim to look for water on the planet.
Exploration and discovery are part of the human spirit. These incredible ventures will lead us to answers and no doubt be of great value for the human race.
While these ventures look for water on Mars, our mission is to reach everyone, everywhere with water here on Earth.
A staggering 785 million people – that’s 1 in 10 who still don’t have access to clean water.
Our mission is here
Our film tells the story of Fara, a young girl from Madagascar who upon hearing on the radio that water has been found on Mars, sets about building a rocket to take her there and to bring back water for her village.
Fara always dreamed of becoming an astronaut.
When the attempt inevitably fails, she discovers that work is already underway to get clean water in her village. As work on the new water point is almost finished, she and her father turn the final bolt to start the water flowing, as the rest of the community, with the support of WaterAid finish working on the pipework.
Although Fara and her community are fictional characters, they and their surroundings are very much inspired by real people.
Authenticity and working with Ernest Randriarimalala
All of the elements of the animation, including the people, animals, landscapes and homes, are inspired by communities in Madagascar, with Ernest Randriarimalala, our Voices From the Field Officer in Madagascar, advising us on the finest of details.
He consulted us about the characters’ names, hairstyles and Madagascan landscape.
Ernest, who is Malagasy born and raised, is passionate about his work at WaterAid. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, his role required a lot of time getting to know the communities we work with, revisiting them and witnessing the way people’s health and wellbeing flourishes with clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene.
In developing the characters for the film, the creative team took inspiration from stories Ernest collected from communities, such as siblings Faly, Kanto and Toky – joyful children who no longer have to fetch water far from their homes, and have better sanitation and hygiene, who can now concentrate on school and play.
The film also includes other details such as Baobab trees, typical of the districts in Madagascar where we work, and zebus – an important animal used in Malagasy agriculture.
Use the slider below to see how real scenes inspired the illustrations.
We also did our research to ensure that Mars is visible from Madagascar with the naked eye at this time of year.
This is personal
Our film ends with the message “This is personal.”
Globally, we are investing great amounts to find water on Mars. While this is a wonderful realisation of the human spirit of discovery, there are people who need water here on Earth – and the global investment into solving this problem is simply not enough.
We all need water to survive.
From simple everyday activities like having a drink of clean water, showering and going to the toilet, to fundamental necessities, like bathing newborn babies and having a safe and clean period.
It gives us the chance to be ourselves, be healthy, feel confident and thrive. This is essential for every individual on Earth.
Yet so many millions of people still have to endure long and dangerous journeys to collect dirty water.
Clean water is transformative for children like Tantely, 8, and her grandfather Albert.
Tantely used to walk miles to collect heavy buckets of dirty water, making her late for school, if she were even able to attend at all.
Since we worked with her community to bring clean water to her village, she wakes up, grabs her books and heads off to school, now often arriving before her teacher.
Clean water is already making Tantely’s life so different to her grandfather Albert’s. He never thought he’d see the day clean water would come to their village.
Tantely and her grandfather, just like the fictional Fara and her father, just like any of us, shouldn’t need to worry about such basic essentials that so many of us take for granted.
We hope that our film, The Girl Who Built a Rocket, the resilience of the characters, the ambitions of Fara and our mission to reach everyone, everywhere with clean water resonates with many of you on a personal level.