WA­TER WORKS

A trip to Kenya wasn’t on the radar for writer Ingrie Wil­liams. But when she heard about a cool Cana­dian ini­tia­tive that sup­ported girls halfway around the globe, she just had to check it out.

Best Health - - CONTENTS -

See how wa­ter is chang­ing life for girls in Africa

IT ALL STARTED LATE LAST YEAR WITH AN EMAIL

from my boss. The sub­ject line ‘‘How do you feel about go­ing to Africa?” im­me­di­ately piques my in­ter­est. I soon learned that Brita Canada has teamed up with the WE or­ga­ni­za­tion to im­prove clean-wa­ter ac­cess on a global scale while rais­ing Cana­dian aware­ness on the sub­ject.

Sup­port­ing this ini­tia­tive with sales of a se­ries of Brita prod­ucts, the trip is set to wit­ness the first mile­stone in a multi-year sus­tain­able-change pro­gram. The itin­er­ary in­volves visit­ing school build sites, a health clinic, a farm and more, but the heart­beat of the trip is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a wa­ter walk and visit­ing a com­mu­nity called Irkaat, where Brita Canada has funded the build­ing of a bore­hole. Hav­ing ab­so­lutely no idea what a bore­hole is, I say “Yes” and whisk my­self off to a travel clinic for a med­i­cal up­grade.

Dur­ing a whirl­wind week, I have many firsts, from kiss­ing a gi­raffe to weapons train­ing with le­git Maa­sai war­riors and (new best friends) Wil­son and Jack­son. The most pro­found, though, is tak­ing part in a wa­ter walk, car­ry­ing a 50-pound jerry can of dirty river wa­ter strapped to my head.

Turns out, “walk” is too mild of a term. In Irkaat, the wa­ter source is at the base of rolling hills, de­mand­ing a three-kilo­me­tre up­hill climb home, com­plete with re­lent­less sun and rocky ter­rain. It’s more like a wa­ter bat­tle – and it’s fought ex­clu­sively by girls as young as 10 (and some­times younger).

But as chal­leng­ing as the phys­i­cal as­pects are, it’s the

loss of a fu­ture that these girls suf­fer from most: The reality is, when you spend most of your day lug­ging wa­ter, there is no time for an ed­u­ca­tion.

That fu­ture po­ten­tial, em­bod­ied by high school stu­dents we meet from the Ki­ra­suni Group of Schools, is stag­ger­ing. When our group tours the grounds, we hear from three ar­tic­u­late young women about how the school day starts at 4:30 a.m., which was their choice (the teach­ers ve­toed stu­dents who wanted to start an hour ear­lier). They all hap­pen to share the pop­u­lar name Mercy, a fun fact mir­rored by the three Sarahs in our crew. One Mercy tells me she wants to be an English teacher (to shake up the male-dom­i­nated pro­fes­sion); an­other is set on be­com­ing a neu­ro­sur­geon.

That’s where a bore­hole can change lives. A bore­hole be­gins with drilling into un­der­ground clean wa­ter sources and ends with a se­ries of pumps and pipes that bring that wa­ter to the sur­face, mak­ing it ac­ces­si­ble through kiosks for the com­mu­nity. Guar­an­teed for a min­i­mum of 70 years, the sys­tem can cre­ate an im­me­di­ate and pro­found change.

Your choice of drink­ing ves­sel can make that hap­pen. “It’s a cy­cle,” says Sarah Au, se­nior brand man­ager for Brita Canada. “The bet­ter the Brita clean wa­ter ini­tia­tive does, the more bore­holes we can have, the more girls can go to school, the more fam­i­lies we can af­fect and the more Irkaats we can have.” And it’s a mis­sion that can’t be wa­tered down.

BRITA LIM­ITED EDI­TION ME TO WE BOT­TLE, . AVAIL­ABLE AT WAL MART, REAL CANA­DIAN SU­PER­STORE, REAL AT­LANTIC SU­PER­STORE, LOBLAWS AND ZEHRS LO­CA­TIONS

ME AND MY WAR­RIORS: I’M HOLD­ING A RUNGU CLUB POST WEAPONS TRAIN­ING WITH JACK­SON LEFT AND WIL­SON A FU­TURE BORE­HOLE IN PROGRESS, AND A COM­MU­NITY DAYS AWAY FROM FRESH WA­TER A BEADING SES­SION WITH MAMA CECILE  A SKILL SET THAT HELPS WOMEN CRE­ATE A SUS­TAIN­ABLE LIV­ING DO­ING MY BEST TO GRIN AND BEAR IT DUR­ING A WA­TER WALK IN­QUIS­I­TIVE, ARTICU LATE AND PER­CENT NOT CAM­ERA SHY: I LOVED MEET­ING ALL THE SCHOOL­GIRLS PUCKER UP! AN UN­FOR­GET­TABLE EX­PE­RI­ENCE AT THE GI­RAFFE CEN­TRE IN NAIROBI

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