Community

Our employee ambassadors

Our employee ambassadors

We support our employees to become ambassadors for the charity and encourage annual supports trips to visit WaterAid projects.

Each year a selection of employees from across the UK water industry are invited on a trip to one of WaterAid′s country programmes. The supporters’ trips allow our fundraising employees to see first hand how our adopted charity saves lives and gives them a vital insight to how the money they raise makes a difference. As a result of their experiences, employees who have been on a trip return enthused and inspired in their fundraising efforts for WaterAid.

We have led supports trips to raise the profile of the charity and its work, including a trip to Malawi for MPs and media partners. You can find out how the trip affected our employee ambassadors by looking at the following case studies.

In November 2014, Janine Scott from Northumbrian Water visited Uganda on a WaterAid fact-finding Mission with 13 other WaterAid supporters from water companies across the UK – click on the┬ávideo below to view the supporters trip experience.

2014 - Janine Scott, Uganda

Janine travelled to Uganda in November 2014 to see first-hand how WaterAid transforms lives.

On the first day, she visited the village of Ojolai where WaterAid hadn’t yet intervened. She met Deborah, a 24-year old with three small children who walks half a mile to the nearest water source up to six times a day, every day.

Janine said: “Deborah told us we would go with her to collect water from the ‘well’. We all expected a nice little structure with a wooden bucket, just what you imagine a well to be. Instead, we found a dirty, murky pond, with flies buzzing round it and animals defecating at the source of it. There was even a family of terrapins living in the water.

“Deborah filled a 20kg jerry can up with this disease ridden water and carried it on her head the half a mile back to her home, with her baby on her back, to drink, wash, clean and cook with it. She had no other choice.”

What struck Janine was just how huge the impact of WaterAid was. She said: “One of the most memorable moments for me was meeting Grace and Augustin at their home in Bobul village.

“This family was so welcoming and so profoundly grateful that WaterAid had built a borehole in their village three years ago. They no longer had to travel two miles to collect water from a dirty marshland - water which was killing their livestock and making them ill.

“This meant that they were healthier and had more time to spend in their garden growing crops and could therefore sell more. This in turn made them wealthier and Augustin was lucky enough to be able to afford to send all of his eight children to school, so they were educated too.

“The atmosphere was amazing, completely different to that in Ojolai village the day before. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, WaterAid really does change lives.”

You can read the blog Janine wrote while out in Uganda at www.janinescottblog.wordpress.com

2010 - Craig Holliday, Bangladesh

Craig visited Bangladesh December 2010, having helped raise thousands of pounds for WaterAid during his eight years working for us. The trip was a great chance for him to see first hand how the money he helped raise can change people’s lives.

Craig visited rural villages in the costal region that are already experiencing threats from rising sea levels. Fresh water has been contaminated by salt water meaning villagers have to walk for up to five hours a day to the nearest source. Salt water has contaminated their land so that crops cannot grow forcing people to farm shrimps. WaterAid helps protect the few water sources there are and make them safe to help reduce the risk of illness and works with communities to give them the tools and education to improve their situation.

Thousands of people flock to the capital city Dhaka every day in the hope of a better life. In reality they find themselves crammed into slums such as the Molla’r Bostee with thousands of others desperately trying to survive. Craig found it hard to describe the atmosphere in the slums. “It was incredibly hot, cramped and smelly, flies and rubbish were everywhere. Often eight to ten people live in tin shacks 8’x10’ in size, water comes from an illegal connection to the City water mains that lies open to the surrounding filth. Sanitation is from hanging latrines over a contaminated water course. Not surprisingly waterborne disease is rife, with diarrhoea, dysentery and cholera a constant threat, this stops people from being able to work, keeping them on the edge of survival.”

WaterAid has provided safe legal water supplies from the city authority and hygienic latrines for slum dwellers to use. There is real hope in areas that have had WaterAid’s support communities can see a future for themselves.

2008 - Cara Hall, Burkina Faso

Cara travelled to Burkina Faso, which is a small, land-locked country in West Africa, in 2008 and witnessed a battle of survival because of the lack of clean, safe water, effective sanitation and hygiene education. Water is vital for life but sadly some of the water people have to drink is diseased and deadly.

The week-long intensive, emotional journey involved travelling to rural villages and urban areas to witness the remarkable difference clean, safe water, sanitation and hygiene education makes to peoples’ lives.

Cara said: “Bomtenga Village is the first place we visited and one of the villagers, called Abibou, made a big impact on me. The 30-year-old collects her water, along with another 600 people, from a muddy hole in a dry riverbed. She and her four children have to drink this disgusting water, ridden with disease, every day. They don’t have anywhere safe or private to go to the toilet either. Despite the appalling conditions she lives in, Abibou was warm, welcoming, had a beautiful smile and infectious laugh. She deserves better.

“One of the worst things I saw, which made me feel physically sick and moved me to tears, was people in an urban area in the capital, Ougadougou, collecting water to drink from a canal which contained raw sewage, animal intestines, mosquito larvae and rubbish. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! People were also washing their clothes in this canal.”

2008 - Liz Scott, Uganda

Liz had been fundraising for WaterAid before her trip, so it was an opportunity for her to see for herself what life is like for the poorest people in the world, who do not have access to the clean, safe drinking water, she saw how this impacts on their lives, and how the money she was raising for WaterAid was helping.

Liz visited a village called Masindi where she met Mangdalene Tibulihwa. Mangdalene and her niece Dorine survived drinking, washing and cooking with stagnant swamp water which was also drinking water for her cattle. Liz spoke to Mangdalene about her life in the village; Mangdalene explained that she didn’t have a toilet because the pit latrines that she used to dig just collapsed in the rainy season when the water table rose, and so she and all of the local residents just used the surrounding bush, which wasuncomfortably close to their source of drinking water. Waterborne diseases were rife in the area and Mangdalene had lost three of her five children to them.

Liz also visited Kayabwe, where she met Helen Nasuma who proudly showed her the rainwater harvesting jar she had built with the help of the local women’s group with funding from WaterAid. Liz explains: “Rainwater jars capture water from rooftops before it falls to the ground and becomes contaminated. It had changed Helen’s and her whole family’s lives making them healthier and happier.

“Before I went on the trip, I found it difficult to understand why people had to walk such long distances to fetch water, witnessing how WaterAid has improved so many lives has been a fantastic experience but there are so many more people that desperately need help and this has given my fund-raising enthusiasm a real boost."

2005 - Dave Whiteley, Tanzania

Dave visited Tanzania in Africa in 2005 where his enthusiasm, ambition and emotions were put to test. Dave is a dedicated WaterAid supporter and has been for a number of years. He takes part in many and varied fundraising challenges to raise money for WaterAid, however this trip was turned out to be biggest challenge yet. He witnessed the hardship people without water suffer, having to walk several miles at least three times a day to collect water for their families.

Dave said: “Although mentally prepared for the sights I was to witness, the biggest shock for me was the awful polluted water holes that provide people with drinking water – resembling dirty dish water.”

The water available in each of the villages, Dave visited, was extreme in contrast. From having no water at all in the first village to having water from a self-built borehole in the fourth village, clearly shows evidence of the support received from WaterAid and the difference it can make to peoples’ lives.

In the villages where WaterAid is working, Dave enjoyed mucking in and giving hands-on support. From helping with the trench digging where a pipe will be laid, to making bricks that would soon make homes, Dave could not do enough to help.

“I can’t stress enough the need for our support. If anyone gets the chance to support WaterAid please take the opportunity – I have experienced and witnessed the desperate need for our help.”

2004 - Andrew Blakemore, Malawi

Andrew travelled to Malawi with WaterAid in 2004. What he experienced and witnessed was not what he expected. Andrew explains: “What struck me as soon as I got there was the absolute abundance of water; it was the rainy season, but even so the place was incredibly green. This was a surprise to me as I’d anticipated seeing quite an arid, dusty environment where I expected to see incredible shortages of water.” Just because there is water does not mean that it is safe.

He visited a village called Matekeni where people were very badly affected from dehydration and malnutrition. He’d passed through villages where the children would run alongside their vehicle, laughing and smiling… full of life. His visit to Matekeni left a very different impression; “The villagers were humble, polite and welcoming, but struggling. The children just stood and stared at us, not sure if this was in hope, desperation or otherwise.”

In contrast he worked with villagers to help install a borehole and pump, and saw how the community were actively engaged in the work with the promise of clean safe water.

Andrew’s lasting memory is speaking to the women of the village who, when asked what difference WaterAid have made, all comment on how healthy the children now are with no more recurrent chronic diarrhoea or sickness. That’s why Andrew continues to raise funds for WaterAid.

2001- Lorraine Coulson, India

Lorraine visited Tamil Nadu, in southern India, in March 2001, at the height of the foot and┬ámouth outbreak in the UK with other representatives of WaterAid supporting organisations and Graham McPherson, aka Suggs from Madness. At the time Lorraine was responsible for water conservation in what feels like one of the rainiest parts of Britain. In the UK, we don’t even think about water and its life giving qualities; we turn on the tap and flush the loo and there it is – as much or as little as we want. Before the visit Lorraine had been aware that WaterAid is a worthwhile cause, but hadn’t given a lot of thought to how it works in practice or how important sanitation and hygiene education can be. The biggest surprise to her was that using a toilet was not in the Indian culture especially as we are so used to them in the UK.

Lorraine said: “When we left the airport the heat, smells, hoards of people, beggars, cows amongst traffic and tooting car horns assailed us. We saw families with toddlers living in cardboard boxes on the street outside the hotel and a beggar sitting in a pile of rubbish he called home with an advertising hoarding for a Bollywood movie above his head. The emotions you feel about what you see when you visit areas helped by WaterAid and those not yet helped are overwhelming. Your fear for the beautiful children who greet you when you know that so many children die each year from water borne diseases is incredible.”

Previously Lorraine had no concept of the depth of the poverty trap their families are caught in or why. It soon became clear why the poverty trap exists for them - no time to go to school, no time to earn a living, dirty water, medical bills, no where safe to go to the toilet, the lack of decency and privacy and being unaware of how diseases spread traps whole families and villages in poverty. Just £15 can change their lives forever for the better and help them to help themselves out of poverty. Its sustainable, and suits the people that it helps as they are involved in deciding what they need.

The strength and leadership of the women is a thing Lorraine will always remember as it is they who are responsible for the health and well being of their families and it is they who really embrace what WaterAid tries to do for their communities.

Lorraine continued: “But the thing that most moved me on my trip is the dawning realisation that the people that WaterAid help are just that – people. They are not victims. Bar an accident of birth that could be us. They have the same hopes and fears as we do but we live in a privileged society a world apart from theirs and WaterAid is the bridge between them and us. I was humbled by my experience and the strength of the people we met who can triumph through adversity with the help of WaterAid and as little as £15 per person. We saw it. It works. WaterAid changes lives - forever.”

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