Just a year ago, the hardest part of Mukei’s day began after walking the long distance home from school: the search for clean water.
In Kitobo, a small Kenyan village near Tsavo West National Park, water is a precious commodity shared between humans and animals – both wild and domestic. Dry weather, contaminated water and distance limit access to clean water for household use.
I had to walk for many kilometers in search of water. This was so tiring that I couldn't concentrate in school.
“I had to walk for many kilometers in search of water. This was so tiring that I couldn’t concentrate in school,” 13-year-old Mukei said.
Bicycles from World Bicycle Relief’s Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program changed all that.
Today, Mukei and her fellow students carry water cans on the back of their Buffalo Bicycles when they ride to school. They fill the cans at a stream nearby after school and arrive home with clean water for their families – and energy to spare.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the burden of daily water collection usually falls to women and girls. Forty billion working hours are lost to water collection each year. The average water can, which holds 4 to 5 gallons, weighs up to 40 pounds when full. Exhausted from searching for and carrying the water, students frequently miss class or drop out entirely.
But with the implementation of WBR’s BEEP program at schools like Kitobo Primary, bicycles can transform the lives of its students and their families almost immediately.
As part of the Kitobo school’s agreement with its recipients, bicycle beneficiaries like Mukei must attend class, then fill and transport water back to their families.With access to clean water by bicycle, the benefits to children, women, and families are exponential. Less time spent walking for water means more time for school, economic opportunities, and future welfare. Riding is four times faster, and the carrying capacity of a Buffalo Bicycle allows a person to carry five times as much water per trip.
When children – especially girls – are able to save time and effort by using bicycles for water collection, they are able to focus on their education.
“When I found I was going to be a bicycle beneficiary, I was filled with joy. Now my attitude toward school has changed, and am happy I use the bicycle to carry water back home,” Mukei said. “I get home with much energy to spare some hours for personal studies.”