Free to Dream

Bearing the Burden

Dreaming of a better life begins with clean water

Lucy Marwa rises early each morning to fetch water. Every day, two hours of Lucy's time is spent walking 12 kilometers through a dark, overgrown ravine to bring home 10 gallons of dirty water to her family. She could be using this time to study, dream, and simply be a kid, but instead she braves baboons and monkeys for water that will make her sick.

But Lucy Marwa has big dreams. She dreams of the day when she can get a job and help her parents. She dreams of being a newscaster. (Her favorite subject in school is English.) She dreams of a better life. She dreams of the day when she doesn't have to fetch dirty water, a day when her village near Kisumu, Kenya, has a clean water well.

"If I don't have to fetch water," she said, "I will study, dance, and sing with my extra time." With clean water, she wouldn't have to study late into the night. She would be safe. She would be healthy. She would be free to dream.

All around the world, it's kids like Lucy who bear the burden of the world water crisis. It doesn’t have to be like this, and it isn’t when kids are free to dream. For Lucy and the kids featured below, their big dreams of a better life all begin with clean water.

"Water can help us," Lucy said, "so that we can drink it and we can get life."

“If I don't have to fetch water, I will study, dance, and sing with my extra time.”
— Lucy Marwa

Clean Water Makes Dreams Come True

In Kenya, Living Water International works in a geographically focused program area around Kisumu and Butere, near Lake Victoria. Even on the shores of Africa's largest lake, many rural communities in this area live life without clean water. "Kenyan people have several hopes," says Living Water Kenya Country Director, Jacktone Akelo, "but one hope and one aspiration is the opportunity to access water."

Working hand-in-hand with community leaders, local government, and local experts, Living Water develops a plan to transform communities through community engagement, hygiene and sanitation education, water provision, and Christian witness.


Sarah, Sharon, and Mary (the poets in the video above), all attend Dr. Aloo Gumbi Secondary School in Kisumu. Before Living Water came, life for the students was grim. It was difficult to stay clean when they had such a small amount of dirty water with which to wash. Kids often missed school because the dirty water they had to drink made them ill. Lessons were delayed.

Living Water drilled a borehole at the school and installed a submersible pump with a water tank. The school sells water to the community from a water kiosk and uses the money to pay for repair work, electricity, and to sustain the water system. They're even using the water to construct latrines and improve sanitation.

"The school farms are green, there are vegetables for our school, cows and sheep drink water, we redeem time, the children's hygiene is admirable, and our relationship with the community is improved," said the school's principal, Lawrence Machuka. School enrollment has even gone up—from 410 to 460.


Founded in 2008 by Dominican friars, Our Lady of Grace School provides a quality education to 250 primary and secondary students who would not otherwise have access. Approximately 97% are orphans, and many have HIV.

In 2010, the school's borehole collapsed and problems cascaded. School funds were re-directed to buy water. The water was not good and kids became sick with diarrhea, typhoid, and cholera. "That was the hardest period of my life," said school administrator Mary Casiragi. "This is a dry place. When you don't have water, you don't have life."

When Living Water arrived, hope was restored. According to Mary, the Living Water team had a positive impact before they even gave the school water. They provided hygiene education and spiritual nourishment.

And then clean water was restored. "There was joy when we saw water coming up—it was so beautiful!" Mary said. "You see that gush of water coming up and you say, 'Thank you God!'" Our Lady of Grace School now has a kiosk to sell water to the surrounding community. Profits generated help sustain the pump and have allowed the school to raise chickens and grow a garden.

Sow character, reap destiny is the school's motto. With clean water restored, the children at Our Lady of Grace School have a better chance to reap the destiny they dream of. "With water," Mary said, "they have time to play and be children. They can become what Christ wants them to be."

"There was joy when we saw water coming up—it was so beautiful! You see that gush of water coming up and you say, 'Thank you God!'"

Do Something

Give now. Lucy's Kenyan village doesn't have water, but your gift can change that. Your gift can help offer Lucy and kids like her the freedom to dream of a better life. Just $25 can offer a year of first-time water access to 5 kids like Lucy. Make a difference now!


Start a Fundraising campaign and encourage friends and family to help you reach your fundraising goal to help kids like Lucy.


Click below to download advocacy resources. Download the printable poster to share Lucy's story with others. Share powerful images on social media to spread the word. Use these iPhone wallpapers to take the stories of those we serve wherever you go.




Walk through a day in the life of Lucy with this printable poster.


Social Media

Share powerful images on social media to spread the word.



Immerse yourself in our work in Kenya with these high-resolution photo downloads.



Use these iPhone wallpapers to take the stories of those we serve wherever you go.