Maria pours me a cup of hot tea. She gestures me to sit down whilst she continues getting things ready, stoking the fire, washing utensils and stacking cups. Maria’s sister walks past me with a tray of warm sweet cakes to put outside, letting them cool before packing them for the customers. They excitedly chirp away to each other as they both get things prepared. Today is a significant day for both Maria and her sister. Today is the first day of opening their Tea Room.
Maria’s tea room is in a convenient location in Chibophe village, in easy reach of lots of customers. It gets particularly busy in the afternoon when farmers have a break from working in the fields and they all fill up the shop to stock up on tea and chat with others. But most noticeably the tea room is located near the elephant pump, a source of safe water.
Maria is proud of setting up her own business and no longer has to worry about walking long distances to fetch water for her customers or not having enough water to wash her utensils properly. She shows me the rest room she built for her customers to use. It has a place nearby for customers to wash their hands. Unfortunately it is missing a roof. This was blown off by the heavy storm a few weeks ago but Maria has plans to fix it and she reminds me that it’s still far better than before.
Before having the elephant pump life was quite different. Maria remembers how everyone used to collect their water from the dambo (swamp). There used to be a lot of reported cases of snake bites. The dambo was far from the village and in a secluded and quiet place. Women never used to go in the evening. Many of the elders of the village found this too far to walk and had to rely on others to collect their water. And it wasn’t just the distance to the dambo which was a problem. According to Maria the water was often milky in colour and sometimes had a funny smell. People were frequently ill and drinking the water only made it worse.
Now the story is different. The community of Chibophe village helped build the elephant pump which now provides safe water for the whole village, 62 people. Everyone can now go to the pump at anytime of the day without the fear of snake bites or attacks. Chibophe has also set up a Water Point Committee to help manage the water pump in case any repairs need fixing.
People in Chibophe are getting ill less and now spend more time making a living, looking after their family and leading healthy lives. As for Maria and her sister they now have two sources of income for their family; they grow maize, groundnuts and soya as well as running their tea room.
This pump project was part funded by the BPEC Foundation.
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