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Moving to a new town can, of course, be an exciting or challenging experience but it can also be both at the same time. When Yvette Ishimwe moved from Kigali to Kayonza it felt exciting and challenging all at once. The move came at a time when she had just completed my high school studies.
The challenge however, came in the most unexpected way! Yvette thought she had all the information about life in Kayonza before they had moved, though the fact that it is located in one of the Districts that suffers some of the worst water shortages was unknown. The family was supposed to build the new home when they found out that there’s not even enough water to complete the house itself! It was a nightmare.
“With no piped water, we found that the only option for us- and what has been for the residents – was buying water. This was an expensive affair as a 20 litre jerrycan of water could go for as much as Rwf. 500 (USD 0.60). My mother decided that it was best if we got the water from a nearby Lake. So she bought a water tank to store it in and a water pump which she would use to pump water from the Lake. A truck would then be hired to transport the water to our house, “remembers Yvette.
Once the house was completed and they settled in, Yvette started thinking of ways they could make the water safe for cooking and drinking because we still had to buy distilled water for this. She turned to Google and discovered a UV water filter system manufactured by Davis and Shirtliff company that is based in Kenya and happens to also have an office in Kigali. She went to see them and get to know more about the system.
“I set up the system at home and it worked perfectly. Soon afterwards I decided to take the experiment out of the house and started to sell the clean water to my neighbours. The response was overwhelming- word spread like wildfire. We would have people standing in queues for hours waiting for the truck to arrive at the house and then have the water go through the system before we sold it to them”.
At this point, Yvette decided to hire bicycle riders to deliver the water to people’s homes instead of having them queue for hours waiting to get the water. This turned out great because of the time that the women and children got to save.
“We are currently supplying water to 25 households in Kayonza. The incredible transformation that I have witnessed in the lives of these families is my greatest motivation. Women and children would spend as many as 6 hours travelling to the Lake to fetch water” explains Yvette proudly.
The women would be so fatigued by the time they got back to their homes and their chores would be piled up. Today the women tell that they have time to do other things. They just wait for the water to be delivered to their homes as they carry on with their chores and some have even started small businesses to earn themselves an additional income.
The children, on the other hand, have gone back to school and can concentrate better in class. They no longer have to wake up early to fetch water before they can go to school. They just wake up and go to school like other kids. Additionally, there have been the jobs created for the bicycle riders, as well as the jobs for the youth in the locality –many of whom are bicycle riders – and enjoy a steady flow of income.
“I would like to see this kind of transformation continue to happen and more lives positively impacted. Currently, we are drilling water from a spring in Kayonza that will provide water to as many as 500 homes,” Yvette firmly believes.
There are other parts of the country where people do not have easy access to clean water so the process of developing portable water filters that can be used easily in homes, institutions and even in refugee camps is going even further.