Clean Water for Children in Rwanda

Publication Date: 
July 08, 2015

As part of an ongoing commitment to improve access to clean water, and the infrastructure that supports it, Salesian missionaries in Rwanda recently completed a project that now delivers fresh drinking water and improved sanitation to hundreds of school children and their families.

“A lack of access to clean water is directly linked to poverty and poor well-being -- and is a significant factor in childhood mortality,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “In fact, according to UN estimates, close to one million people die annually from water-related diseases. We cannot hope to effectively address some of the world’s gravest problems without simultaneously working to improve drinking water for everyone.”

This is why Salesian missionaries around the world have prioritized water projects in every community in every country in which they serve -- including Rukago, in the capital city of Kigali. This past spring, students of the Salesian primary school there watched as a new water tank, and new sanitary bathroom facilities, were installed on school grounds.

Previously, these students were forced to walk more than a mile to collect their drinking water -- and even then, it was from a swamp. Now, they no longer lose precious school time in search of a safe water source, or because of water-related illness.

“This project has already had a great impact for our students, now that they have access to better sanitation, water for washing their hands, proper hygiene and clean drinking water,” says Father Jean Paul Ruriho, director of the Salesians of Don Bosco Africa of the Great Lakes. “We expect this project will reduce the number of children who become sick -- and improve their attendance and performance in school.”

Fr. Jean Paul also notes that already-impoverished parents will also benefit, in that they will save on medical expenses for children who have consumed contaminated water. “This is just one small step in breaking the cycle of poverty -- but it’s an important step,” he says.

The project was made possible by the Salesian Missions Clean Water Initiative, which raises funds in direct support of such endeavors.

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