Lent 2016: Meet Proscovia

10 February 2016

Proscovia looks down at the blue rosary beads she thumbs nervously. “I found it very difficult to put on a uniform after walking so long for water.”  It is hard to hear the 14-year-old’s quiet voice over the noise of her friends. “I didn’t want to go to school dirty or late.”

Her mother, Teko Anna, had taken three jobs to support the family and so the essential task of collecting water fell to the eldest girl in the home – Proscovia. “Proscovia would come back late and see her younger sisters, brothers and neighbours go to school,” says her mother. “It was heartbreaking.”

Famine due to drought

This northern region of Uganda is one of the driest in the country – making sure you have clean, safe water is a daily challenge. During the 1980s, a severe famine devastated the region – one in five people starved to death. The famine was due, amongst other causes, to increasing droughts.

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Father Paul Ngole from our church partner in the area said, “We face drought here every two years. It is very difficult. Crops die. Animals die. People die. Those who survive have to deal with it any way they can. I come from this region and I have faced these problems in the past. I will have to face these problems in the future.”

Girls under the age of 15 in the world’s poorest countries are twice as likely to be the ones to collect water. It is a terrible reality that if a family is to survive, the oldest girl often has to give up her education. But it isn’t a choice, it is a necessity: without it their families would die of thirst.

Water sources increase school attendance

A study of neighbouring Tanzania showed that if a water source is placed near a family’s home, there is a 12 per cent increase in school attendance nearby.

Turn on the taps for girls like Proscovia today

The water pump outside Proscovia’s home splutters to life. It was installed just when Teko Anna thought she would have to take her daughter from school. Proscovia’s face changes as she pumps the water – a stunning, a broad smile.

She was free to get water when the family needed it. She was free to drink, wash and clean herself. She was free to study, to get an education, to have a future. She was free to be a girl again.

The pump was installed in her village thanks to the kindness of CAFOD supporters like you. And because water flowed into her life, her dream of getting an education lived on. “When I am older,” she says, the smile lighting up her face again, “I want to be an engineer.” With water so close, Proscovia knows anything is possible.

Will you turn on the taps for girls this Lent?

Watch our Lent Appeal film (above), voiced by our ambassador, ITV Newsreader Julie Etchingham.

This Lent, we are asking you to turn on the taps for more girls around the world like Proscovia.

You can double the impact of your giving this Lent because the UK government has agreed to match each £1 you give at no extra cost to you, find out more about UK Aid Match funding from our Q&A.

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