It’s a soggy, overcast day in the rural community where Kereni, 7, lives with her mom, dad and little sister, Kobusingye. Situated in the heart of Kiryandongo District, Uganda, Kereni’s village is close to several national forest reserves. People come here from all over the world to see lions and elephants, giraffes and crocodiles in their natural habitat — and the mighty Nile that flows nearby, bringing liquid sustenance to the land that families like Kereni’s depend on for farming.
When Kereni wakes up and steps outside her house, a mud structure with a grass-thatched roof, she jumps right into her morning routine. Breaking off a small, soft tree branch to use as a toothbrush, she brushes her teeth, washes her face and heads back inside, where her mother is waiting with some milk and yogurt to start the day.
After breakfast, it’s time to go to school. Kereni washes the dishes, splashes some water on her feet, pulls on her uniform and moisturizes her skin with a bit of oil before she leaves. The walk to school is about 3 miles.
Sending children to school is a challenge for many families in rural Uganda. The government has mandated universal primary and secondary education, but families still have to pay school fees and buy uniforms and supplies. ChildFund Uganda helps families like Kereni’s with these expenses so that income level isn’t a barrier to quality education.
Kereni enjoys herself at school — especially during break time, when she gets to play outside with her friends.
Back at home, Kereni is excited to see her mom. Over a lunch of porridge and millet bread, they talk about what Kereni learned at school. Her dad is still at the market selling bananas, but he’ll be back soon. In the meantime, Kereni and her sister must attend to the most important chore of the day: collecting water.
Kereni’s family gets their water from a communal borehole drilled by ChildFund. Centrally located and easy to use, the borehole ensures that the whole community has access to clean, safe water, reducing the risk of waterborne disease. Kereni and Kobusingye pump the water into small jugs, which they carry carefully home to empty into larger jerricans. They have to collect three more rounds to fill the jerricans and store enough water for tomorrow’s use.
By the time Kereni’s chores and homework are finished, the sun has already slid beneath the palm trees, signaling dinnertime. Normally, Kereni and her family eat by the light of a kerosene lamp, but there’s no fuel today, so it’s a quick meal in the dark before sleepiness sets in. Kereni slips through the darkness into bed, belly full, pulling the mosquito net around her that will keep her safe through the night.