A mum of two from Wetherby learned first-hand how clean water can save lives in Africa.
Mott MacDonald fundraiser Emma Wren went on a fact-finding trip to Uganda with 13 other fundraisers from water companies.
After raising money locally for WaterAid the 37-year-old spent a day in the life of rural villagers in Bobol, Ojolai to find out what it is like with and without safe water and toilets.
Emma said: “In Ojolai, I helped to collect the water from the ‘well’ – it was basically a pond, totally disease ridden, milky-looking with turtles in it.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes. The weight of the jerry cans also shocked me, I could barely even lift it.
“The mums and children make the gruelling trip to collect this water up to six times a day, in the searing heat.
“Imagine trying to carry 20kg on your head, whilst also carrying a baby and bringing a toddler with you – it’s unacceptable.”
As well as spending time with a local family she joined children from three schools learning about hygiene and how clean water is a life-saver.
“We visited Wera Primary School, this one had access to water, and the children were happier, educated about hygiene – the difference in the children was incredible!
“I’ve now seen for myself how WaterAid spends the money we’ve raised in the UK. It’s not only about taps and toilets – the projects can help communities take control of their rights, and access the resources that they are entitled to.”
Reflecting on the visit, Emma said: “The most shocking thing for me was when we heard about a woman who’d died in the Kampala slums we went to.
“She died, that morning, because she fell in the open sewers that were full to the brim from the previous night’s rains.
“She was just taking her little girl to school. Her daughter was rescued but for her it was too late.”
Emma added: “Clean water and toilets are things we take for granted here in the UK, but for some people they’re a luxury.
“Just imagine if we couldn’t turn on the tap, go to the loo, have a shower, wash our children - they have no choice but to use whatever water they can find.
“That very water could make them ill, or could cause a fatal sickness.”