Growing up in Tombohuaun

Thumbnail WaterAid/Joey Lawrence

Growing up in Tombohuaun, Sierra Leone is a daily adventure. There are mangoes to lasso, stories to imagine... and of course, there's a lot of mischief to be made.

This is a village in the heart of the jungle. It's surrounded by trees bearing the most delicious fruit, home to lizards, birds and creepy crawlies, with plenty of places to make dens and play hide and seek. 

Here, children play together, get into scrapes together and can often be seen trying to dodge a telling-off by a disgruntled grandparent. It's childhood as it should be, right?

It hasn't always been this way. Until very recently, growing up in Tombohuaun was a daily struggle because of dirty water. 

What's the one thing that no child likes doing? Chores. And kids in Tombohuaun are no different. Except here, daily chores involved carrying a heavy bucket full of water back from the waterhole, being careful not to slip on the way and spill it, or worse still, dropping and breaking it. 

Nafisatu is nine years old, and used to wend her way down to the waterhole a few times a day. It's a difficult object to balance on your head. "I've dropped the bucket before, when I hit my foot on a rock, and tripped over. It really hurt."

Hawa Kennie, 7, (Massa's daughter) with a bucket of dirty water she collected from a natural spring, the water source for the village of Tombohuaun. She has sickle cell disease, and often has attacks of pain. She needs regular medication, and her mum takes great care to see that she doesn’t get cold or hurt herself, Kailahun District, Sierra Leone, May 2017.